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HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) sweetheart brooch

Date: 1939-1945
Overall: 25 x 18 mm, 30 g
Medium: Gilt, enamel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Ross Leek
Object Name: Brooch
Object No: 00014514

User Terms

    This azure blue sweetheart brooch features the Commonwealth of Australia shield and star, with the HMAS AUSTRALIA legend beneath. This brooch is believed to have belonged to the wife of a shipwright who was serving aboard HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) when war broke out.

    The practice of giving brooches to wives, sweethearts, mothers and sisters started with servicemen in World War I and continued in World War II.
    SignificanceThis brooch illustrates the impact of separation on families and loved ones during World War II, and represents HMAS AUSTRALIA which served with distinction in WWII.
    HistoryInitially a British tradition, the act of giving a sweetheart brooch to a loved one was adopted by Australian troops serving overseas in World War I. Using their creativity some servicemen crafted brooches from the scarce materials available using pieces from military badges, buttons or scraps of metal from damaged aircraft and armoury. Other soldiers commissioned jewellers or metal-working businesses to create their sweetheart's token.

    Due to the distance from their home and the young age of many troops, the unmarried soldiers often sent brooches to their mothers and sisters, instead of a sweetheart. Although sweetheart brooches were less popular with Australian servicemen than their British and American counterparts, many Australian wives, sweethearts, mothers and sisters received them from members of the Royal Australian Navy during World Wars I and II.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) was a County class heavy cruiser built by John Brown & Co Ltd of Clydebank, Scotland and launched in March 1927. AUSTRALIA was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 24 April 1928, and four months later departed Portsmouth arriving in Sydney on 23 October. The vessel spent six years with the Australia Station, and in December 1934 sailed for England. AUSTRALIA served with the British forces until July 1936, and returned to Australia arriving in Sydney on 11 August 1936. The ship remained in Australian waters, with the exception of cruises to New Zealand and New Guinea between April and July 1937. On 24 April 1938, AUSTRALIA was paid off into Reserve, but was recommissioned in August 1939.

    During World War II, the ship's complement increased from 679 to 848, and AUSTRALIA conducted operations in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans acting as a convoy escort and protecting shipping routes. The ship also served in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal invasion, the Battle of Leyte Gulf and allied landings at Lingayen Gulf.

    On 21 October 1944 AUSTRALIA was damaged when a Japanese fighter plane collided with the ship, killing the commanding officer Captain E F V Dechaineux and several others. Whether or not it was a kamikaze attack has been the subject of much speculation. After attacks in January 1945, AUSTRALIA underwent a major refit in the UK and stayed there for the remainder of the war. AUSTRALIA returned to Sydney on 16 February 1946. The cruiser was mainly used as a training ship, and was eventually sold for scrap in January 1955 and broken up at Barrow-in-Furness, UK in 1956.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) sweetheart brooch

    Assigned title: Sweetheart brooch from HMAS AUSTRALIA

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