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Liberty ship sinking disrupts military medical mobilisation in 1942
  1. George Dennis Shanks1,2
  1. 1 Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Diseases Institute, Enoggera, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2 The University of Queensland School of Public Health, Herston, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor George Dennis Shanks, Australian Defence Force Malaria and Infectious Diseases Institute, Enoggera, QLD 4051, Australia; dennis.shanks{at}


Medical mobilisation is vital to support tropical campaigns where many disease casualties are expected. Much of the medical supplies and equipment for nine station and three general hospitals that were being placed in Australia were aboard the Liberty Ship SS Rufus King when it went aground off Moreton Island on 7 July 1942. A concerted salvage operation rescued 85% of the stores from the freighter that had broken in half on the Amity sandbar. This emergency effort allowed medical support to New Guinea to proceed without delays due to medical supplies that were nearly lost at sea.

  • HISTORY (see Medical History)

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  • Contributors GDS wrote the entire article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Australian Defence Force or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.