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Arms, Equipment and Uniforms Discuss details of WW2 armament, tanks, uniforms, insignia and other equipment

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Old 24-06-2011, 12:01
forenaft forenaft is offline
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Default WWII Commando Folboat Found

Latest news: WWII Commando ‘veteran’ found under suburban house.

A surprise discovery was made recently when a lady in Ringwood Victoria Australia asked a local boat reparier to remove an ‘old canoe’ from under her house. On dragging it out and inspecting the contents of two bags, the boatman Carl Shadbolt realised that they contained a 1943 folboat, still in remarkable condition. The lady explained that her husband had used the boat for fishing trips in the late 40s.

Kayak enthusiast Jack Scott later bought the folboat and had it shipped to his home in Sydney. On further inspection, Jack rightly thought that the craft had something to do with Australian commandos during the war. He contacted wartime folboat authority John Hoehn who explained that given the very early serial number, date and manufacturer on the identity plate it was indeed a war veteran. John was able to ascertain that this folboat had seen service with our Australian commandos at either Z Unit Cairns, Fraser Island, or Mount Martha training camps prior to embarking on secret Z raids such as the well publicised Jaywick and Rimau operations.

John had been researching Australian folboats for some time and has now published a book Commando Kayak on the subject. It traces the history from the raging white waters of Switzerland in 1924 to the end of the Pacific war and contains copies of the original folboat technical drawings. The National Secretary of the RSL, Derek Robson AM has written a foreword for the book.

‘SRD Melbourne’, which stood for Services Reconnaissance Department was clearly marked on the two carry bags. It was the cover name for the highly secret military intelligence organisation, initially headed by Singapore veteran Major Mott. Until now, little was known about these remarkable craft. National documents marked as ‘Secret’ have only been recently released. They reveal that, had it not been for a Swiss immigrant, Australian commandos may have been greatly disadvantaged in carrying out their secret and daring operations.

Many of these folboats were manufactured by the author’s father in a Melbourne suburbs backyard workshop, but not without skulduggery and chicanery from those who controlled the contracts. The first two folboats were rushed to Major Lyon’s highly secret Camp-X at Refuge Bay, NSW, where he was training commandos for Operation Jaywick. Some were also later used in the ill-fated Operation Rimau. The commandos blew up many Japanese ships in Singapore Harbor by paddling noislessly during the night and placing magnetic mines on the hulls.

The role of the folboat in Australian war history may have to be re-written as we now realise that their development and production was largely an Australian-Swiss effort.

Jack has now donated the folboat to the Australian War Museum Canberra where Chris Goddard, who considers the find important, is supervising restoration. It should be on view when fully restored.
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Old 24-06-2011, 12:11
forenaft forenaft is offline
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Default Re: New book + WWII Commando folboat found

Yes, here are images of that WWII MKIII commando folboat, recently found:

Jack Scott testing the boat, after assembly, in waters near Sydney Harbour.
The 'Z' unit carry bags, clearly marked 'SRD', the Australian clandestine undercover organisation: Services Reconnaissance Department.
Nameplate, No. 199, which makes it the earliest yet WWII Australian folboat still existing.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Scott Folboat Above2CrewColor.jpg (34.1 KB, 10 views)
File Type: jpg Scott Hedley bags #6, on grass..jpg (94.2 KB, 7 views)
File Type: jpg Scott Hedley Ident.Plate 199,whole.jpg (63.9 KB, 3 views)
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Old 24-06-2011, 20:30
John Odom John Odom is offline
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Default Re: WWII Commando Folboat Found

What a find! An important artifact.
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Old 25-06-2011, 19:17
jainso31 jainso31 is offline
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Default Re: WWII Commando Folboat Found

Thank you very much forenaft, for sharing the news of this extremely important "find" -it will no doubt become an artifact of some consequence.

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Old 28-06-2011, 06:30
forenaft forenaft is offline
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Default Re: WWII Commando Folboat Found

Thank you Rear Admiral Jainso 31

Full information about these remarkable craft can be found in my new book Commando Kayak.
The Australian built folboat MKIII, of which well over 1000 were ordered by the military was very well regarded and enjoyed the longest run of any WWII folboat. It was extensively used in the Pacific Campaign to penetrate many of the islands.

The book covers development, its first use in Australia in 1928, plus testing and use by Australian commandos throughout WWII. The first two Australian folboats were rushed to Major Ivan Lyon's secret Camp-X at Refuge bay in 1942, to train the commandos for 'Operation Jaywick'.

There is also coverage of other Australian built foboats up to 1972, with full-page A4 copies of original folboat drawings and the patent drawing.


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Old 28-06-2011, 06:41
forenaft forenaft is offline
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Default Re: WWII Commando Folboat Found

Thanks Rear Admiral John Odom.

This find is a significant addition to our heritage on WWII folboats. With serial number 199, it becomes the earliest known MKIII still in existence and according to restorer Chris Goddard at the Australian War Museum, it is an important find. A comprehensive history of Australia's wartime folbats is covered in the new book Commando Kayak.

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