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B31/1994 SERVICE DETAILS OF AUSTRALIAN WWII MERCHANT MARINERS
DATE OF ISSUE: 1 AUGUST 1994
SERVICE DETAILS OF AUSTRALIAN WWII MERCHANT MARINERS
This Instruction is to advise sources of information on WWII mariners and on the quality and type of information available.
With effect from 1 July 1994, the Seamen's War Pension & Allowances Act (SWP&AA) and statutory regulations have been repealed and eligible mariners are now veterans for benefits under the Veterans' Entitlements Act (VEA).
Claims or applications for benefits which were not determined prior to 1 July 1994 are now deemed to have been made under the VEA and will be determined under the VEA. No new application form is necessary. Under VEA Section 14 (3) any new claim by a mariner on or after 1 July 1994 should be on form D2585.
Pending changes to the Compensation Claims Processing System, Disability Pension claims from mariners will have to be processed manually. A further instruction will be issued when CCPS is modified.
Responsibility for investigation.
Section 17 of the VEA places responsibility on the Secretary to investigate claims by veterans. Contrary to the previous Departmental Instruction (B50/92 - now superseded) on obtaining information on mariner's service, when necessary the Department will now make necessary enquiries to verify specific information supplied with Disability Pension claims.
In support of their claims, mariners should be encouraged to supply as much detail as possible on relevant events and on the ships in which they served including the route, destination and dates of engagement and discharge. No verification is required if this information is supported by:
original documents, or
a statement from the Department of Transport & Communication, or
a statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, or
a statement from the Naval Historical Section of the Department of Defence,
In the event that official records are absent or inadequate the provisions of Section 119 of the VEA will apply.
Periods of Service
WWII Australian mariners served on ships registered in Australia, Britain and most other allied countries. Some mariners will have multiple eligible periods of service reflecting the voyages undertaken.
Mariners should have the original discharge certificates from each ship which require no further verification. If it is necessary to verify service, the correct agency to contact will depend on the country of registration of the ship.
If service was on an Australian ship or, a British ship where the seafarer was engaged/discharged at a port in Australia, enquiries should be directed to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).
Where Australian seafarers served on ships operated by allied governments during World War II eg. Norwegian, British, Dutch, U.S. small ships etc. it will be necessary to seek details from the relevant authority in that country (see attached list).
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
AMSA's main purpose is to provide an employment service for the Australian merchant navy. Provision of an archival service and historical research is only incidental and a fee for service applies. At present Departmental enquiries, that are essential to determine a claim, are exempted from fees.
AMSA can provide a certificate or statement of sea service which will list the ships on which a mariner served and the periods of engagement. If requesting a certificate or statement of service they will need the full name of the mariner concerned, the date and place of birth as minimum requirements and as much detail on the names of the ships and dates of voyages as possible.
For the time being essential enquiries from the Department in connection with claims lodged by mariners will be answered without charge. However, AMSA will not verify information contained in previously issued statements or contained in original documents without prepayment of the normal fee charged.
Where a claimant seeks information beyond that which is needed by DVA to determine a claim, they should be given the address of AMSA and advised of the charges. The Department will not refund costs incurred by a veteran seeking information from AMSA.
Should a person wish to make private enquiries, AMSA's normal fees are set out below. In the case of a deceased mariner, AMSA will only undertake private research if it is requested by the next of kin who must provide documentary evidence.
Application and search fee$25 (this amount is not refundable if search fails to locate required information, but is deducted from the cost of any service provided)
Statement of sea service$43 per hour (this statement contains information on approximately 5 years of service)
Copies of /or extracts from
source documents$43 per hour
Provision of research$43 per hour
The contact address is:
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
P.O. Box 272
WORLD TRADE CENTRE
Accidents and Illnesses
The ship's log book should have recorded any significant occurrence and particularly so where a mariner may have been injured or taken ill. But, as with veterans of the armed services, some incidents were not reported or not recorded or, if recorded, the document may have been lost either through sinking of the ship or otherwise over the years. Minor injuries or illnesses may not be recorded.
Given adequate details of when an accident or illness occurred AMSA can conduct a search of an Australian Registered ship's log to see if there is a record of an accident or injury. To conduct a search AMSA requires the mariners name, a description of the event, accident etc, the name of the ship, and as accurately as possible the date or period concerned.
AMSA also requires the purpose of the enquiry so it can avoid unnecessarily detailed research and expense. As mentioned above, for the time being essential enquiries from DVA will be answered without charge.
Significant attacks by enemy forces on merchant shipping in Australian waters and the South West Pacific Area were recorded for intelligence purposes during WWII.
However, records of many minor or unsuccessful attacks were either not made or were not officially reported to the Navy. The Naval Historical Section of the Department of Defence holds those reports that were made.
There are no fees for research service at present.
In order to verify an incident the Naval Historical Section requires similar details to AMSA, particularly the name of the ship and the date or period of the occurrence.
The contact address is:
Naval Historical Section
Department of Defence (Navy Office)
Canberra ACT 2600
Records of Proceeding
In addition to the Ship's Log, each vessel was required to lodge a monthly report; a Record of Proceeding. The quality of these reports vary enormously and they appear to be drawn from information in the ships log. Records of Proceeding are held in the Australian War Memorial (AWM).
The AWM no longer provides free research for the Department. Any enquiry it receives from Branch Offices is passed on to Central Office. Queries dealing with Disability Pension issues are dealt with by a research officer in Compensation Section.
Any enquiry that involves access to AWM records should be referred to:
Director (Compensation) Central Office. or by electronic mail to C-B-CP-2
In common with other agencies that hold records, as much detail as possible should be provided including the reason for requiring the information.
NATIONAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR
ADDRESSES FOR OVERSEAS CONTACTS
BermudaRegistry of Shipping
PO Box 1628
Registry of Shipping
OTTAWA CANADA KIA
DenmarkDanish Maritime Authority
DK-211 Copenhagen E
PO Box 326
GreeceMinistry of Mercantile Marine
18 II Mararhias Street
Mercantile Marine Office
Harbour Building 3/F
38 Pier Road
Telex - 64553
Fax - 852-5-449241
IndiaDirector-General of Shipping
Ministry of Shipping and Transport
Walchard Hirachard Marg,
BOMBAY - 1 INDIA
IrelandDepartment of Transport and Power
General Register & Record Office
26/27 Eden Quay
DUBLIN 1 IRELAND
NetherlandsDirector of Shipping Policy & Marine Affairs
Hoopd van de Scheepvaartinpectie
Ministrie Van Verkeer
Directorate for Seamen
PO Box 8105-DEP
OSLO 1 NORWAY
SwedenSwedish Merchant Seamen
Central Seamen's Register
United KingdomGeneral Register & Record Office of Shipping & Seamen
Department of Transport
PO Box 165
GABALFA CARDIFF CF4 4UX
GeneralDepartment of Transportation
United States Coast Guard
Division of Merchant Vessel Personnel
WASHINGTON DC 20591 USA
Small Ships onlyNational Personnel Records Centre
9700 Page Boulevarde
ST LOUIS MISSOURI 63132