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Greetings from over the Sea

Date: 1915
Overall: 140 x 90 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00044565

User Terms

    This card depicts an image of HMAS AUSTRALIA and features a patriotic excerpt from a Rudyard Kipling verse. In 1913, HMAS AUSTRALIA was declared the most powerful fighting ship to have ever entered Sydney Harbour. This postcard was produced between the ship's launch on 25 October 1911 and its commission on 21 June 1913. It was designed as a method of communication but was never written on and most likely kept as a souvenir.

    SignificanceThis postcard is representative of the Australian naval flagship HMAS AUSTRALIA. It highlights how sailors communicated with their families and the practice of keeping mememtoes of their sea voyages.
    HistoryHMAS AUSTRALIA I was built by John Brown & Co Ltd at Clydebank, Scotland and commissioned on 21 June 1913. On 4 October 1913, it was the flagship for the first Australian Fleet Unit entering Port Jackson and hailed as the most powerful fighting ship to have ever entered Sydney Harbour.

    From 11 to 13 August 1914 AUSTRALIA participated with the Australian Fleet in operations against Rabaul and then, with HMAS MELBOURNE, it escorted a New Zealand troop convoy from Noumea to German Samoa. AUSTRALIA engaged in operations which included capturing German New Guinea and the German steamer SUMATRA. When the threat in the Pacific subsided, AUSTRALIA was moved to European waters and arrived at Plymouth on 28 January 1915. On 8 February 1915 the vessel became flagship of the Second Battlecruiser Squadron, Grand Fleet, based at Rosyth with sister ships INDEFATIGABLE and NEW ZEALAND. From February 1915 to April 1916 AUSTRALIA carried out patrols and exercises with the Grand Fleet. It suffered damage on 22 April 1916 after colliding with NEW ZEALAND in a heavy fog.

    AUSTRALIA was under repair in Devonport until 9 June 1916 and missed the Battle of Jutland, during which NEW ZEALAND acted as flagship. On 12 December 1917, AUSTRALIA again suffered damage due to a collision but by 1918 was employed in experiments with aircraft. On 4 April 1918 and again on 14 May 1918, Flight Lieutenant F M Fox, RAF successfully took off in a two-seater Sopwith aeroplane from a platform created over AUSTRALIA's starboard 12-in gun turret. This was the first recorded flight from a ship at sea, and a precurser in the design and construction of aircraft carriers.

    AUSTRALIA was involved with the Grand Fleet at the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet and travelled back to Australia to take part in naval activities associated with the visit of the Prince of Wales in HMS RENOWN. AUSTRALIA's last days as an operational vessel were spent conducting training duties where it was stripped of all useful gear and equipment. It was given a nucleus crew and the role of a gunnery and torpedo drill ship at Flinders Naval Depot with a secondary role as a fixed defensive battery. In November 1921, AUSTRALIA returned to Sydney and was paid off the following month. Less than three years later, AUSTRALIA was prepared for scuttling to comply with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.

    The 1922 Washington Five Power Naval Treaty was initiated by US President Harding who called a conference between the USA, Britain, Japan, France and Italy to advocate a mutual naval arms limitation. The immediate result of this treaty was that Britain, America and Japan scrapped a number of unfinished capital ships and older dreadnoughts. For Australia, the impact of the treaty was mostly felt with the loss of the first flagship of the RAN, HMAS AUSTRALIA I. Two schools of opinion surround the loss of the battlecruiser as the Five Power Treaty contained several areas of ambiguity that may have allowed the Australian Government to mount an argument to retain the battlecruiser. The question of whether AUSTRALIA was obsolete in 1924 brought great debate as well as the inclusion of vessels with larger guns than 8" built before the conference, which were said not to be part of the Treaty. Secondly, the vessel was paid for, manned and maintained at Commonwealth expense and thus could not technically be included as part of Britain’s quota without the permission of the Australian Government. On the other hand, AUSTRALIA was taking a large slice of the RAN budget to maintain the vessel in operational status which was difficult with the Australian economy going into recession after WWI as other countries, along with Australia were paying off war-related loans.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA I was towed to sea by tugs and sunk along with its main armament in position 095 degrees, 24 miles from Inner South Head, Sydney on 12 April 1924. Prime Minister Stanley Bruce provided a eulogy which was broadcast widely the following day, stating that the passing of HMAS AUSTRALIA closed a glorious chapter in the history of the RAN and expressing a hope that the world saw the magnitude of Australia's offering for the principles of the Washington Conference, constituted in the hope of a permanent international peace.

    AUSTRALIA's steam siren remained in use for many years on top of the Powerhouse in Canberra, while the table from the Admiral's cabin was on display in the Senate Opposition Party Room in Canberra. Several streets were also named after the first flagship, creating a sense that HMAS AUSTRALIA I is gone but not forgotten.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: Greetings from over the Sea

    Primary title: Greetings from over the Sea

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