- Flagship: The Cruiser – HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan
Flagship: The Cruiser – HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan
In 1924, the grand old battle cruiser HMAS Australia I was sunk off Sydney Heads. Once she had been the pride of the navy and the nation. She had saved Australia from an attack by a German squadron in the Pacific in the First World War.
But after the war she was obsolete, and a victim in the race to disarm after the First World War. It was a day of national mourning when they blew the bottom out of her; she went to her sea grave smothered in flowers and wreaths sent from around the country.
Four years later, in 1928, the RAN acquired a new ship of the same name, the fast and modern heavy cruiser HMAS Australia II. Australia saw her first action of the Second World War against the Vichy French, during the abortive 1940 attempt to install the young General de Gaulle as free French leader in Dakar, West Africa. In a feat of amazing seamanship she rescued the crew of a downed RAF Coastal Command aircraft in the teeth of an Atlantic gale. She was later bombed by the Luftwaffe in Liverpool.
Australia returned home to join the war against the Japanese, and as the flagship of the RAN fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea near Papua New Guinea, the first sea battle to stop the Japanese advance in the Pacific. In 1945, she was hit again and again, by no fewer than four kamikaze planes on four successive days, with 44 men killed. She was, in fact, attacked by more kamikaze aircraft than any other allied ship in the Second World War.
That ended her war. She retired gracefully, laden with battle honours, and was scrapped in 1956 - the last of her name, for the navy no longer uses ‘Australia’ for its ships.
Details: Non-fiction, published 2017.
Format: Soft cover, 656 pages.
Dimensions: 23.3 cm (h) x 15.5 cm (w) x 4.6 cm (d) / 852 grams.