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Ribbon for British War Medal

Date: 1918
Overall: 220 × 30 mm
Medium: Silk
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Ribbon
Object No: 00054672

User Terms

    This British war Medal was awarded posthumously to HMAS AE1 Chief Engine Room Artificer Joseph Wilson. Wilson was aboard AE1 when it disappeared on 14 September 1914 while on patrol off Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.
    SignificanceThe medal is significant for its association with Joseph William Wilson, a member of the crew of submarine HMAS AE1 which disappeared without trace on 14 September 1914 while on patrol off Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. The loss of the submarine and its crew was sorely felt by the fledgling Royal Australian Navy, and its disappearance remains a mystery to this day. The medal is significant as a link to the service of Joseph Wilson.
    HistoryThe submarine AE1 was put into service in September 1914 as part of the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force into New Guinea in the attempt to eliminate German presence there and ensure their wireless communication stations were not able to be used by them. On September 14, AE1 and HMAS PARRAMATTA were directed out into the St Georges channel around New Britain and New Ireland in attempts to locate any enemy ships still be in the area.

    Although seas were calm, it was noted that the day itself was hazy and by mid-afternoon visibility on the water was reduced to five nautical miles. At 1520 HMAS PARRAMATTA spotted AE1 off Bernard Point. However, by 2000 that night AE1 had not returned to Simpson Harbour as agreed. HMAS PARRAMATTA and HMAS YARRA started to search for AE1 that night but no trace was found. The next morning the search was widened and now included HMAS ENCOUNTER and HMAS WARREGO. At the end of three days the search was concluded with no trace or clue as to what had happened to AE1.

    In a report back to the Admiralty, Vice Admiral Patey suggested that AE1 most likely had struck and an underwater reef and sunk in the deeper waters of the channel. There was also always the possibility that an on-board fault or explosion might have led to her loss.

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