US Submariners Memorial
The annual US Submariners memorial service is a tribute to the United States Submariners who operated from the Port of Albany during World War II.
“Still on Patrol.”
It’s here overlooking Princess Royal Harbour that we recognise the bravery of the Submariners who battled war and dreadful conditions. Life on board a submarine was tough with long patrols in overcrowded conditions, with little water, little or no air conditioning and the fear of being blown up or trapped in the depths in a disabled submarine.
Submariners were an elite breed of men, they had a special kind of personality, and today we honour their memory.
It is here we recognise the history of Albany and Australia’s home-front role in World War II, to ensure that the history lives on through generations to come. During the first two years of the War, the lives of people at home in Australia were affected by increasingly obtrusive security measures. Reality of war for most was something happening far away in Africa, the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
By 1941, fears were growing that Japanese aggression might also bring war to the South Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. The War with Germany had already invaded Australia’s mote and a number of vessels had been lost in the seas around Australia. In November 1941, Australians were shocked into a new awareness of threat when HMAS Sydney was lost after a clash with a German Raider off the undefended Western Australian coast. Two weeks later the War was to become worldwide and the new battle grounds were on Australia’s doorstep.
The strategic importance of the Fremantle base is one of the best kept secrets of World War II. The very nature of Submarine Warfare, together with strategies and internal politics of the US Command, also tended to hide Fremantle’s role. The submariners went about their deadly business silently and invisibly.
When the Submariners arrived at Fremantle 3rd March 1942, there was a real fear of attack by Japanese forces.
To prevent the possibility of losing the fleet, it was decided to split it into two sections. The submarine tender Holland and five submarines were sent to Albany, where they arrived on 17th March 1942. Australian Army gunners based at the Albany forts were given no warning of the intended arrival into Albany, much to their relief the US flag was recognised. The submarine tender Holland was stationed at Albany until July 1942, when it was relieved by the Pelias which remained there until October.
During this time 31 submarines visited the port. The submarines were tied at the Albany jetty and the quarantine station.
Without the safe havens provided by the harbours of Fremantle and Albany it would have been impossible for submarine fleets to carry out their vital role.