SS William Dawes

On the 22nd of July 1942 the 7,176-ton American Liberty ship SS William Dawes was torpedoed off Turingal Head by the 2,900-ton Japanese submarine I-11. On route from Adelaide to Brisbane with a crew of 39 Merchant Seamen, 15 Naval Armed Guards and 3 army soldiers, the ship was carrying a cargo that included ammunition, lorries, jeeps, field ambulances and half-track vehicles. At about 4.30 p.m. the ship sank stern first with five lives lost. The William Dawes’ lifeboats with 58 survivors were heading for land when Merimbula fishing trawler The Lass reached them. After linking them together with lines, they were towed back to the jetty in Merimbula. Four wounded men, including Bill Minton shown below, were transported to Pambula District Hospital while the remainder were taken to Twyford Hall where the community rallied to give them support and accommodation in local homes. The Museum has a pamphlet for sale with more details of the event.