Kenworth M1A1 heavy recovery tow truck at Alice Springs workshop during WW2

121 Australian General Transport Company lend lease vehicle

Kenworth M1A1 heavy wrecker

Kenworth wrecker

This particular vehicle was assigned to the 121 Australian General Transport Company as a recovery and service vehicle for workshop and road convoy duties.

It was delivered in September 1944 and based at the Alice Springs workshop in the Northern territory.

The unit and vehicles relocated north to the Gorrie airfield workshop near Larrimah rail head in 1945.

It's primary role was as convoy support vehicle for the heavy Mack Lanova diesel truck/trailer combinations in use during the latter stages of the war.  These were the first diesel trucks used by the AIF.

My father is seen in the second photo above as the assigned operator/mechanic of 156838 during it's entire period of war service.

In one operation it successfully lifted a steam locomotive back onto rail tracks on the Gorrie to Darwin line during a night time operation.

The LHD vehicle had a petrol engine, 6x6 drive (all axles), front and rear winches, and carried a large range of vehicle repair and recovery gear, including oxy welding and cutting equipment - total loaded weight for convoy duty of over 12 tons.

Fuel economy was recorded as 0.3 miles per gallon for local use.

This was one of three model 570 wreckers said to have been brought into Australia at that time.

This one went to the Northern Territory (NT) and the other two were supposedly located in the eastern states.

The NT vehicle remained at the Alice Springs workshop when the unit demobilised.

Vehicles were brought back to Adelaide by rail at wars end.

It is reported that an M1 A1 was used by the the Commonwealth Post-Master General's Department (PMG) Adelaide workshop in later years.   This may have been the same unit.

Pathetic treatment of war veterans by the AIF and the Australian Government

The 121 Australian General Transport Company (AIF) served a vast expanse of Australia from Adelaide to Eucla, Mount Gambier to Oodnadatta, Alice Springs to Larrimah and Darwin from Truscott in North-West Australia to Mount Isa in Queensland from 1941-1946.

Army transport were the vital link between the railheads of Alice Springs, Mount Isa and Larrimah. Their work has been hailed as one of the greatest transport efforts of World War II. 
It encompassed a mammoth haulage of essential supplies, equipment and personnel into the war zone.

The 121 AGTC operated in a declared theatre of war, convoying into Darwin. Truscott air field, and otherfront line air bases during the period of Japanese air hostilities.  Convoys were under regular surveillance by Japanese aircraft.  There is no record of a road convoy being attacked in the NT region.

Despite this, members of the 121 ADTC were almost universally denied a war service pension or any financial recognition of their efforts by the Australian Government.

The reason - their "record of service" was blank and showed no information regarding areas servicemen had operated in.  So they couldn't possibly have been in a war zone, even though that was what they did as a unit on a daily basis.

To put it plainly, the AIF failed to maintain accurate records of individual troop movements in their "record of service" for the duration of the war, and had no idea where they were deployed to. 

On this basis they were deemed not to qualify for a war service pension.

A truly unjust and pathetic approach by the AIF and the Australian Government which remains to this day - despite numerous submissions by veterans of the 121 Australian General Transport Company to rectify the situation.

| Home |

South Australia