Thevenard World War II veteran shares his story

INTERVIEW: Helen Meyer sits down to interview Clarence Dawes for the Radio Adelaide program Service Voices.
INTERVIEW: Helen Meyer sits down to interview Clarence Dawes for the Radio Adelaide program Service Voices.

Adelaide based radio station Radio Adelaide is shining a spotlight on the often forgotten members of the US Army Small Ships who served in World War II, which includes a well known local identity.

Clarrie Dawes of Thevenard will feature on a future broadcast of Radio Adelaide's program 'Service Voices', in a series focusing on those who served in the US Army Small Ships and the Merchant Navy.

Executive producer Helen Meyer is interviewing Mr Dawes about his time serving in the US Army Small Ships.

Ms Meyer said the merchant navy were instrumental in winning wars by protecting the troops, supplying them with supplies and transporting the wounded.

She said the United States commandeered, purchased and made small ships from Cairns to Adelaide and employed more than 3000 men and boys, including Mr Dawes for the US Army Small Ships.

"Clarrie's story is unique because he is such a great recorder with his journal entries and has been recording his experiences since childhood," she said.

Mr Dawes is sharing his experiences from the time he entered into the US Army Small Ships to the end of World War II.

Beginning at Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea Mr Dawes worked his way through the islands to Bougainville, Morotai off Borneo and the Philippines, and was based at Mariveles in the Philippines, where the Bataan Death March started.

Mr Dawes said the people who served in the US Army Small Ships varied, there were captains in their 80s and 90s and one person on his ship had one arm.

Mr Dawes said his duty was to help supply troops and everyone knew what would happen if they were captured by the enemy.

"We used to follow the advance of our army and we had to keep them supplied and take out the wounded," he said.

"Anytime they caught one of our blokes, we never saw them again."

Despite his service during World War II, Mr Dawes said the biggest fight was getting a discharge when he got home.

"Without a discharge, I couldn't get any medals and never got any benefits from the Americans, it was the Australian Merchant Navy that recognised us and gave us our pension like the military," he said.

"We were classed as civilians."

Ms Meyer said getting the discharge was important as a lot of the men came back and people did not understand what they did during their service as they did not have a uniform or medals.

"Some of them never really recovered and felt ashamed and they had no reason to be," she said.

"That's why Clarrie's story is so important to be told...they deserve recognition and they deserve to be proud of their service."

Ms Meyer said Mr Dawes' story would be split over two broadcasts and were targeted for June 24 and July 1 at 6pm.

People can listen to the broadcast on Radio Adelaide 101.5FM and they are available online at radioadelaide.org.au/program/service-voices.

Broadcasts are available online for four weeks afterwards.

Anyone wanting to find out more can ring Radio Adelaide on 7132 5000.

This story Spotlight on Clarrie and US Army Small Ships first appeared on West Coast Sentinel.