Vale Ernest Alfred Flint – MBE OAM ED

Ern Flint at the opening of the Mission-X ANMM Exhibition, 2013 - Photo by Andrew Frolows

Ern Flint at the opening of the Mission-X ANMM Exhibition, 2013 – Photo by Andrew Frolows

Ern Flint, who died on 3 July at the age of 88, lobbied for many years to earn recognition for the service of the more than 3,000 Australian civilians who risked life and limb serving under contract in the US Army Small Ships Section during World War II.
Nicknamed the Raggle Taggle fleet, a collection of fishing boats, tugs, steamers, motor launches, ferries, trawlers, sloops, ketches, the steel hulled US barquentine Kaiulani S-106 (commandeered in Hobart), and even showboats collected from around Australia by the US Army was crewed by men too young, too old or too unfit for Australian military service. The Small Ships supplied the Allied forces in New Guinea and the south-west Pacific war from early 1942 until 1945 and during the occupation of Japan until early 1947.

Lightly armoured, painted grey, given an S number, fitted with machine guns and flying the ‘stars and stripes’, these (mainly) little ships transported troops, nurses, food, water, ammunition and tanks to the front line and returned with the dead and injured.

Ern Flint in 1945.  Photo courtesy E Flint

Ern Flint, 1945 – photo courtesy of E Flint

Ern joined the fleet at the age of 16 as a Seaman Boy on the wooden tug Gee Bee (S-210). His 59-year-old father Ernest Alfred Flint Snr joined a year later as Bosun on the newly built OL7 Bahloo (S412). They met once for only a day in Manila during their service.

Ern went on to have a distinguished career in the Australian Army and founded the US Army Small Ships Association in 1985.

Owing to his tireless efforts, in 2009 the Australian Government granted the US Army Small Ships entitlement to the Imperial and Australian Campaign medals for service in World War II, and in 2010 the US Army Corps of Transportation inducted the US Army Small Ships Section into its Hall of Fame for demonstrating exceptionally distinguished service to the Corps in World War II.

Ern was an enthusiastic supporter of the Australian National Maritime Museum, where part of his story is told under a photo of a fresh-faced teenaged Ern in the Mission X exhibition in the USA Gallery. The exhibition closes at the end of February 2016.

7 thoughts on “Vale Ernest Alfred Flint – MBE OAM ED

  1. Thank you Richard for the lovely article in memory of my step dad, Ernest A. Flint MBE OAM ED. I miss him so much and will be forever thankful to have had him in my life. I know how hard he worked to make sure everyone who served got the recognition they deserved and fought hard to make sure all were heard. RIP dad, life won’t be the same without you in it and on behalf of Ern, thank you all for his recognition, very appreciated xoxo

    • I think this is a relative of mine, the “Ernest Alfred Flint”is a common name in my family tree, my great great grandfather was Ernest Alfred Flint followed by Ernest Leslie Flint

      • Hi Nikkie,
        If you would like me to find out then please provide further information ie: parents/siblings names of Ernest.
        My email is:
        Thank you
        Kind Regards
        Amanda Wilson

  2. Could Amanda Wilson please ring me on 08 92791524.
    My name is Allen GEORGE. Ernie was my uncle & we were staying with him in May 2015. I’m the one who put the wheel ruts in his lawn.
    regards ALLEN.

    • Hi Richard,

      Happy New Year.

      Thank you, I will contact this gentleman now.

      Daniel also advised me the Mission X exhibition will be extended until May – great news, thank you. We lost another Veteran on Christmas Day so Daniel will be coming to Sydney for the Funeral on Thursday and is bringing another Veteran with him who wanted to see the Exhibition so they are staying in Darling Harbour this Wednesday night so Dan is hoping to take Frank to see the Exhibition on Wednesday 06-01-16 which is good to know its extended so others will hopefully get to see it now too whilst they are in town for the luncheon in May.

      Thank you again and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

      Kind Regards Amanda Wilson

      Sent from my iPhone


  3. How can I contact Amanda Wilson or the US Army Small Ships Association? I believe my dad served in the Small Ships contingent and I am not having any success at finding any record of his service. I have a letter he wrote in April 1945 when he was on the M/S Deutgan that was being towed by the Point San Pedro in the Langewak Bay and Milne Bay in the China Sea.

    • Hi Mr O’Callaghan,
      If you would like to email me your father’s name, birth date & any information you have then I will refer your request onto the Secretary who will contact you. Please advise in the subject heading of email that it is for The US Army Small Ships.
      Thank you
      Kind Regards
      Amanda Wilson

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