Feature Histories

Title Summary Author Year
Fixed Naval Defences in Darwin Harbour 1939-1945 Between late 1941 and early 1942 Darwin underwent a significant metamorphosis, rapidly emptying of civilians and becoming an almost solely military town... Pat Forster 1939
Australian Sailors in the Battle of the Atlantic The Battle of the Atlantic is one of the most well known campaigns of World War II. Yet, it does not refer to a single battle, engagement or action... Petar Djokovic 1939
The RAN’s Chinese Coastal Steamers With the onset of World War II in September 1939, the RAN began requisitioning merchant vessels to supplement the fleet and release warships for operational duties around the world. Petar Djokovic 1939
The Australian Corvettes The corvettes were handy and reliable, and in addition to minesweeping, patrol and escort work they were employed on an endless variety of tasks including the carrying of troops and stores, participation in bombardments and assault landings, surveying and towing operations. Dr David Stevens 1939
The Invasion of Sicily - Operation HUSKY Throughout the dark days of 1940 and 1941 ships of the RAN were present in the Mediterranean operating alongside the Royal Navy and supporting Army operations... JH Straczek 1940
Petty Officer Humphries and the George Medal The George Medal was established by King George VI in September 1940 primarily to honour civilian acts of courage. However it also served to recognise service personnel for acts of great bravery not conducted in the face of the enemy... Petty Officer Peter Cannon 1940
Tobruk - The Lifting of the Siege 9 December 2016 is the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the siege of Tobruk, the port on the north coast of Libya, that proved such a thorn in Rommel’s side during the eight months that the siege lasted. The Australian War Memorial describes it as one of the longest sieges in British military history. Commander Peter Poland OAM RN (Ret'd) 1941
RAN in the Pacific War In the morning of 8 December 1941 Japanese troops commenced landing in Northern Malaya. This assault was co-ordinated with the Japanese strike against the United States Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor (7 December, local time). As a consequence of these actions the Royal Australian Navy found itself facing a new enemy and fighting a new war... RH Pelvin and JH Straczek 1941
The Yachtsman and the Mighty Hood On 24 May 1941, the pride of the Royal Navy, the battle cruiser HMS Hood, was sunk with the loss of 1415 men. Among that number were four members of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve who enlisted in Britain's time of need under the Dominion Yachtsmen Scheme. John Perryman 1941
HMAS Yarra and Operation MARMALADE During 1941 a number of Australian ships were serving overseas under British Admiralty control, including the escort sloop HMAS Yarra under Commander Wilfred Hastings Harrington RAN. Petty Officer Peter Cannon 1941
Battle of the Coral Sea In early 1942 as the list of military defeats and reversals for the Australian, British, American and Dutch military and naval forces began to mount the feeling in the general populace of Australia was one of depression and a general expectation that the Japanese would invade at any moment... Joe Straczek. Edits by John Perryman 1942
Japanese Midget Submarine Attack on Sydney Harbour On 31 May 1942 the Japanese launched an audacious midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour... John Perryman 1942
USN Submarines Based in Brisbane during World War II Following the Japanese advance throughout SE Asia and the Pacific during WWII the US made a strategic decision to base a number of its submarines in Australia. From those bases a determined submarine offensive was launched against Japanese sea lines of communication. Mr John Perryman 1942
New Guinea WW2 - A Maritime Campaign To most Australians the campaign fought against the Japanese in New Guinea during WW2 is typified by images of Australian diggers and ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ struggling along the Kokoda Track or fighting hand to hand at Milne Bay. Jozef Straczek 1942
Australians at Guadalcanal, August 1942 Whereas most Australians are familiar with the determined resistance and subsequent counter-offensive by Australian soldiers along the Kokoda Track, the concurrent actions of Australian sailors at Guadalcanal are often forgotten, Dr Gregory P Gilbert 1942
The British Pacific Fleet After the fall of Singapore and the subsequent raids on Ceylon in early 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) had expelled the Royal Navy (RN) from the Pacific and effectively restricted British naval operations to the fringes of the Indian Ocean... 1942
RAN Beach Commandos The Naval Beach Commandos hold a unique place in Australian naval history. From 1942 to 1945, around 1000 Royal Australian Navy (RAN) sailors trained in amphibious warfare alongside their compatriots from the army and air force, and large numbers of United States (US) servicemen... Petar Djokovic 1942
Battle of Savo Island - Loss of HMAS Canberra (I) On the morning of the 9 August 1942 the Royal Australian Navy’s heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra (I) was sunk after being severely damaged during a naval battle off Savo Island in the Solomon Islands group... JH Straczek 1942
Krait and Operation JAYWICK On 2 September 1943, a captured Japanese motor sampan set out from Exmouth in Western Australia bound for Singapore, well inside Japanese controlled waters. Petar Djokovic 1943
Operation RIMAU: The tragic sequel to JAYWICK The 2009 Defence White Paper noted the need for the ADF to maintain a strategic strike capability to carry out ‘operations against various strategic and operational military targets’... Petar Djokovic 1943
The Great Amphibious Invasion: D-Day, 6 June 1944 One of the clearest demonstrations of sea power occurred on 6 June 1944, when the Allies landed in German-occupied Normandy in the greatest sea-borne invasion in history. Jozef Straczek 1944
Battle of Leyte Gulf (1944) Following the initial Japanese advance in late 1941 and early 1942, and the halting of the offensive in the Solomons and New Guinea, the United States, supported by its allies, began its trans-Pacific assault. Jozef Straczek 1944
German U-Boat Operations in Australian Waters The Paukenschlag, or Operation DRUMBEAT, alluded to by the commander of U-862, was the code name for the German U-boat offensive against the American Atlantic coast that began in January 1942. In the first two weeks of the campaign, a mere five U-boats sank 25 allied ships totalling 200,000 tons. In the four months it took for the Americans to introduce effective anti-submarine measures, 137 ships of almost one million tons would be lost. For the Allies it was a major disaster, for the U-boat commanders it would become regarded as the second ‘Happy Time’ of the Battle of the Atlantic. Dr David Stevens 1944
Borneo 1945 - An Amphibious Success Story Sixty years ago Australian forces successfully led the Allied liberation of Borneo, the world's third largest island, from Japanese occupation in the OBOE series of operations. Dr Nial Wheate and Dr Gregory P Gilbert 1945