Motor Launch
Lars Halvorsen & Son, Sydney NSW
23 December 1941
6 August 1945
Dimensions & Displacement
Length 62 feet
Beam 15 feet
Draught 5 feet
Guns 2 x .303 inch Vickers machine gun
Other Armament 4 x Mk VII depth charge, 2 x PAC projector

The Motor Yacht (MY) Winbah was a 62 foot pleasure cruiser built by Halvorsen & Sons at Neutral Bay in 1936 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. She was the last boat to be built by the patriarch and founder of the family business, Lars Halvorsen. Halvorsen passed away on 5 October 1936, aged just 49.  

Winbah was requisitioned by the Navy on 22 September 1941 and commissioned as a tender to HMAS Penguin on 23 December under the command of Commissioned Officer from Warrant Rank Eric Macpherson, RANR(S). The boat was purchased outright in July 1942.

She was employed in regular patrol and general harbour duties between Sydney and Newcastle. Winbah was in Sydney Harbour on the night of the Japanese midget submarine attack on 31 May/1 June 1942; however, her exact whereabouts cannot be established, though it does appear that at one stage she was used by the Flag Officer in Charge, Sydney, Rear Admiral Gerard Muirhead-Gould, DSC, RN, to transit about the harbour.

She was removed from the Navy List after April 1944 and entered deep refit later that year. Both her engines were removed in August for reconditioning but re-installation was delayed when the private company contracted to carry out the work reported in March 1945 that the pistons had been spoilt during machining. The engines were re-intsalled that July and Winbah spent a brief period carrying stores on Sydney Harbour in August before decommissioning on 1 September 1945.

Winbah was the last vessel built by famed boatbuilder Lars Halvorsen.

Winbah was the last vessel built by famed boatbuilder Lars Halvorsen.

Winbah was offered back for sale to Percy Christmas in September 1945; however, Christmas declined the offer and the vessel was instead sold at auction. She was purchased on 27 October 1945 by Mr Fred Harris, the former owner of HMAS Steady Hour.  

Commanding Officers


Commissioned Officer from Warrant Rank E.S. Macpherson, RANR(S)


Lieutenant R.G. Callaway, RANVR


Lieutenant J.P. Newey, RANVR


Lieutenant E.H.C. Couchman, RANVR


Lieutenant A McCulloch, RANVR


Sub-Lieutenant J.K. Rigden, RANVR


Sub-Lieutenant H.E. Arnott, RANVR