The story of a small ship that significantly impacted the Australian Army


Jack Peel

Crows Nest, NSW: Big Sky Publishing, 2020

Paperback   188pp   RRP $24.99


Reviewer: Roger Buxton, June 2021


Tarra was the third last of the 300-ton, 125-foot wooden cargo vessels built for the Army wartime small ship fleet, and the author completed his engineering training in her.

Launched in July 1945, just too late to take part in the Pacific War, Tarra was seaworthy and easy to handle, but subject to hogging and sagging in a seaway and required a reinforced keelson among other modifications.

AV 1379 Tarra was intended to join the fleet of small vessels operating in coastal waters to support the Army, but her life was spent with Army Small Ships after World War II. After builders’ trials and working up she was used for transport and training, and then in transporting surplus ammunition from Sydney and dumping it at sea, a dangerous task that led to the sinking of a sister ship. Later she was seconded to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, then to the Commonwealth Department of Territories to transport copra in New Guinea and finally to support the Pacific Islands Regiment on ‘The Vanimo Shuttle’.

Declared ‘beyond economical repair’ in 1965 she was sold and foundered on her first voyage with her new owners.

The story of Tarra is supported by an extensive review of Army Water Transport and its personnel, especially of those who served in Tarra where hard lying was the order of the day.

This is recommended reading anyone interested in small ship support for the Army.




The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.