Australian Folboats

December 30, 2009

Hello Mac,

I have just come across your excellent website and am remiss for not seeing it much earlier.

Of particular interest was your posting of Bob Quinn's letter  (26.11.04) re advantage of folboats over other small craft means.
You may be interested to know that my father invented the type of folboat that the Australian Army ordered from 1942 to1945.

A total of 1024 were produced by him in his backyard workshop in Alphington and a larger firm called Hedley's in South Yarra.

Wartime documents recently accessed by me from NAA and AWM, together with dad's documents, photos etc.show much of the history.

Many people think that most of the folbats used in the Pacific Campaign came from England. This is totally false.

I have since written a book on the development, production and use by Australia commandos of these folboats.I hope the book will be published soon.

The earlier folboats : 1942 & 1943 were "Folboat-Kayak Type" and the later ones: 1944 & 1945 were designated "MKIII". There was a small amount made with narrower beams to fit through submarine hatches for operations in the Pacific.These had a star stamped alongside the MKIII on the identity plates. Many identity plates were removed before clandestine operations for obvious reasons.

Peter Beasley of Moe South, President of the 1st Commando Association has 2 fine examples which are now used for demonstrations and exhibitions. (Jaywick 60th. Memorial, Gellibrand etc).The 1st attachment shows Sgt Len Holmes,SBS instructing 2 commandos on the use of the Australian MKIII folboats, with Major John Slim, RHS, son of Sir William, looking on.

I also recently helped to discover the earliest MKIII which had languished under a Melbourne house for some 30 years!

Best regards,
John Hoehn. Ex-pat Australan , currently in Switzerland.
Member AAA ( CMF 2fd. rgt. RAA, Batman Ave. 1950-51)

Dear John,

Thank you for your informative and quite fascinating E-Mail.

One just never knows how something on AHOY will strike a chord somewhere else across the world, and another piece of a puzzle drops into place.

Here I am here in Melbourne on St Kilda Road, not far from both Alphington and South Yarra, and you are far away in Switzerland, yet a common interest draws us together.

Over 1950 -1953 I was Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General Sir William McKell, who of course was succeeded by Sur William Slim, he wanted me to stay on to break in his UK personal staff, but my boss sent me back to sea, Sir William Slim was responsible for me being awarded a Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal.

With kindest regards,

January 06, 2010

Dear Mac,

Do you know if Bob Quinn is still around, as he seems to know a bit about folboats used in the Pacific Campaign and could possibly help me.

If you do, can you please give me his contact details / whereaboats.

For your interest I was born in Melbourne and spent most of my life there, founding & running several engineering / manufacturing Cos. Attached is a press release by The Argus when Dad tried to promote his kayaks, ( the first ever in Oz ) for water sports. Unfortunately the Great Depression intervened and no one wanted kayaks at that time.

Kindest regards,


Unfortunately Bob Quinn died some time ago, he was a great character, and we never met but had a lively exchange over a period.

Go to this URL "Information about Welfreighter" on AHOY to view his comments, it may be useful to you.

Best regards, 

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