Pilot Officer Cecil Mason, in Eric Feldt's excellent book The Coastwatchers, folboats

April 12, 2010 7:23 PM

Dear Mac,

I have just read your interesting story 'The Lonely Vigil. Australian Coast Watching in the Pacific War' and the name Paul Mason rang a bell.

I remembered reading about another Mason, Pilot Officer Cecil Mason, in Eric Feldt's excellent book The

In the book (p 52), you may recall that this Mason was deployed by folboat from a US submarine on 3 July 1942, to locate and endeavour to pick up two local administrative officers Kyle and Benham. He was also to
reconnoitre, trying to locate Sub-Lieutenant Page, a one-time plantation manager who was also a coastwatcher for Feldt's team.

The same day he returned by folboat to Amir Island for a further search. On the following day he again went
ashore by folboat, but did not return. Later information revealed that Mason, Kyle, Page and Benham had been captured.

In my research for my forthcoming book Commando Kayak about folboats during the Pacific Campaign, this is the earliest account yet that I have come across of WW2 folboat usage in the southern Pacific waters.

If no earlier account comes to life, I will treat it as historically important.

At that time, July 1942, my father had only built a few folboats in Australia on private requests for recreational use.

We know that the Army searched Australia around this time sourcing folboats but only came up with one example, a British 'Folbot', used by Melbourne Grammar rowers for exercise. It was found to be unsatisfactory, see attachment. 

The following month, Lieutenant Colonel Hoare, Deputy Director of Military Operations, Vic Barracks and Captain Sheppard, MGO Wesley College, made an approach to Dad to manufacture them, and the rest is history.

It may very well be that the folboat Mason used was 'locally acquired' by military or coastwatch authorities for this singular operation, as Hoare did mention to Dad that they had used a folboat similar to my father's (July '42) , but it had been 'lost'. 

With kind regards,
John Hoehn. 
Ex-pat Oz, Switzerland.

Hello John,

My thanks for your kind words about my piece on the Coastwatchers of WW2, it was a thankless task full of danger, but most rewarding in the information disseminated.

The folboat had its part to play in the Pacific War, please let me know when your book is available so that I may get a copy.

Best regards,

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