When the American submarines arrived in Fremantle on 3 March 1942, there was a real fear of an attack by the Japanese forces.  To prevent the possibility of losing the fleet, it was decided to split it into two sections. The submarine tender USS Holland and five submarines were sent to Albany, where they arrived on 17 March.

No warning had been given to the Australian Army gunners at the Albany forts who were quite alarmed to see a large vessel and several submarines entering the harbour. Much to their relief, they soon identified the Holland's flag as the Stars and Strips of the United States of America.

Holland was stationed at Albany until July 1942, when it was relieved by the Pelias, which stayed at the port until October. During this time, 31 submarines visited the port. Most of them were refitted by the submarine tenders' technical staff, assisted by the crews. The submarines were tied up at the Albany jetty and at the quarantine station, whichbwas used for rest and recreation. 

The USN took over a number of buildings in the town. Wesfarmers building, at the bottom of York Street, housed the periscope shop, and the periscopes were brought there by rail from the deepwater jetty. Steam trains from Perth brought torpedoes and other supplies, and transported servicemen on leave to and from the capital.

Then in March 1944, when the Japanese attack on Fremantle was feared, the two submarine tenders, Pelias and Otus, were sent to Albany for safety. They left Albany after less than a week, when the scare proved to have been a false alarm.

Many of the submariners made lasting friendships with local people, and some traveled from Albany to Perth to spend their leave with Albany friends. Number of local girls married US servicemen. USN veteran Homer White, who married a local girl and returned to live in Albany, served on the USS Holland. He recalled the friendly small-town service provided by the local businesses, visits to local farms, kangaroo shooting trips and other entertainments.

Acknowledgements:

Malcolm Traill, Museum of the Great Southern, for providing an excerpt from the book Secret Fleets by Lynne Cairns, and Jim Lever, local and most valued member of Naval Association of Australia, Albany Sub-branch. 

The Submarines at Albany

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