15 May 1942
4 December 1945
Dimensions & Displacement
Length 55 feet
Beam 14 feet 6 inches
Draught 5 feet
Speed 12 knots
Guns 2 x .303 inch Vickers machine gun
Other Armament 2 x Mk VII depth charge, 1 x PAC projector

Motor Yacht (MY) Toomeree was a 55 foot pleasure cruiser built by Halvorsen & Sons at Neutral Bay in 1937 for Harold Percival (Percy) Christmas, one of the founders of Woolworths and, during World War II, controller of the New South Wales division of the Australian Defence Canteen Service.  

Toomeree had been offered for sale to the Navy in 1940 but, without an immediate need for her service, the offer was turned down. As the strategic situation in the Pacific deteriorated, however, the need for coastal patrol craft became more pressing and Toomeree was requisitioned by the Navy on 8 January 1942. She commissioned as a tender to HMAS Penguin on 15 May 1942 under the command of Lieutenant John Hanson, RANVR. Hanson, however, was demobilised less than a month later on 9 June due to an increase in his private business responsibilities. Sub-Lieutenant John Down, RANVR, who joined the Navy via the Yachtsmans Scheme, assumed command on 5 July. Toomeree was purchased outright by the Navy in February 1944.

The patrol boat had been earmarked for service in New Guinea but she did not make the journey north until February 1944. The bulk of her service in the intervening period was spent conducting general patrol, pilotage and harbour duties off the NSW coast between Sydney and Newcastle.

Toomeree was in Sydney Harbour on the night of the Japanese midget submarine attack on 31 May 1942. She, along with five other channel patrol boats, was off duty and moored at Farm Cove when the attack commenced. The commotion on the harbour soon roused their curiosity and, without waiting for orders, she and HMAS Marlean slipped their moorings to investigate. Toomeree remained on patrol into the early hours of 1 June and, like many other vessels on the harbour that night, fired at various potential, unconfirmed submarine sightings.

Toomeree departed Sydney on 27 February 1944 for New Guinea. She arrived in Merauke on 29 April, via Townsville, Cairns and Thursday Island, where she stayed for the remainder of her war service performing pilotage, air-sea rescue, patrol and general harbour duties. She departed Merauke on 2 October 1945 to return to Sydney though she experienced a difficult journey as engineering defects affected her starboard engine. In spite of this she arrived back in Sydney in mid-November, via Thursday Island, Townsville, Brisbane and Newcastle, and decommissioned on 4 December 1945. She was subsequently sold back to her original owner, Percy Christmas, in March 1946.

Commanding Officers


Lieutenant J.B.T. Hanson, RANVR


Sub-Lieutenant J.E.F. Down, RANVR


Lieutenant J.E.F. Down, RANVR


Skipper D.G. Payne, NAP


Sub-Lieutenant D.G. Payne, RANVR


Lieutenant J.A. Millard, RANVR

Reports of Proceedings submitted by the Commanding Officer of HMAS Toomeree can be found at: (AWM collection)
Reports of Proceedings submitted by the Commanding Officer of HMAS Toomeree can be found at: (AWM collection)