Small ships give big honour to WWII veteran

Former World War II Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force telephonist Thelma Zimmerman was presented a United States Army Small Ships medallion on December 11 for her support of the small ships’ association.

CAPTIONSenior Australian Defence Force Officer – Edinburgh Defence precinct Air Commodore Brendan Rogers presents a US Army Small Ships Section medallion to World War II veteran Thelma Zimmerman. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Jacqueline Forrester.

Commander Air Warfare Centre and Senior Australian Defence Force Officer for the Edinburgh Defence precinct Air Commodore Brendan Rogers made the presentation to the 98-year-old at a ceremony hosted by the War Widow’s Guild in South Australia.

“While her husband, Alby, served overseas with the Royal Australian Air Force in the Pacific, Thelma served in Adelaide and Melbourne as a telephonist in the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force,” Air Commodore Rogers said.

“Thelma always appreciated the incredible work the US Army Small Ships provided to personnel like her husband and has gone out of her way to support the US Army Small Ships Association in recent years.

“In return, the association wanted to present Thelma with the special medallion to recognise her support.

“It was an honour for me to present this award to Thelma and to formally recognise her valuable contributions.”

Mrs Zimmerman said she was honoured to receive the medallion.

“My husband received so much support from the small ships that supported our boys in deploying to and from the islands in World War II so I have been forever thankful to them,” she said.

The US Army Small Ships Section was raised in Australia and consisted mainly of Australians who were too old, too young, or medically unfit to serve in the Navy, Army or Air Force in World War II.

Almost 3000 Australians served in the US Army Small Ships.

The unit supported the deployment and repatriation of Australian personnel and equipment, including Air Force units, in the south-west Pacific.

US Army Small Ships Association vice-president David Lloyd also presented a medallion to Air Commodore Rogers and No. 92 Wing Warrant Officer Suzanne Hall.

Mr Lloyd asked that the medallion be displayed throughout the year and be carried by the youngest member of RAAF Base Edinburgh on Anzac Day parades as a mark of respect to those who served in the small ships’ unit during World War II.

“It was a privilege to receive the medallion and we will ensure it serves to inspire the next generation serving at Edinburgh, particularly during the Air Force centenary next year,” Warrant Officer Hall said.

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