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German New Guinea - Rabaul - Samoa : HMAS AUSTRALIA 1914 - 1918

Date: 1918
Overall: 27 x 40 mm
Medium: Enamel, sterling silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Badge
Object No: 00009325
Place Manufactured:Australia

User Terms

    This commemorative badge features the Commonwealth Coat of Arms surrounded by a blue and red legend which reads:

    "German New Guinea / Rabaul / Samoa / 1914 / 1919 / HMAS AUSTRALIA".
    SignificanceThis badge represents the involvement of HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) - one of the most powerful ships in the Pacific at the time - in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force, which resulted in the German surrender of New Guinea and other Pacific islands during World War I.
    HistoryFollowing the outbreak of World War I, the British government sought to neutralise the German colonies in New Guinea and adjacent Pacific islands. For this purpose an expeditionary force (the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force - AN&MEF) consisting of six companies of naval reservists plus an infantry battalion with additional machine gun, signalling and medical sections was formed in Sydney under the command of Colonel William Holmes.

    This combined force was embarked at Cockatoo Island aboard the P&O ship SS BERRIMA on 19 August 1914 and, convoyed by the cruiser HMAS SYDNEY and destroyers YARRA and WARREGO north to Rabaul. There they rendezvoused with the battle cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA (I).

    The Australian troops landed on 12 September and after a campaign lasting only a few days, accepted the German surrender of New Guinea. By the end of the year the German territories in New Guinea, Nauru, the Admiralty Islands and German Solomon Islands had capitulated and these areas remained under Australian control for the rest of the war.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA was an Indefatigable class battle cruiser launched in 1911 and later commissioned as the first flagship of the Royal Australian Navy. It was built by John Brown and Co Ltd at Glasgow and sailed for Australia in 1913 after extensive gun, torpedo and machinery trials. It led the Australian Fleet Unit consisting of MELBOURNE, SYDNEY, ENCOUNTER, YARRA, WARREGO and PARRAMATTA into Sydney Harbour on 4 October 1913. It was the embodiment of the Commonwealth of Australia's sea power, and as the flagship of the new Fleet, was the focal point of public interest. AUSTRALIA visited most of Australia's main ports in the first year and several songs and music compositions were dedicated to the vessel.

    In World War I HMAS AUSTRALIA was active in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans during which time the ship became the first battle cruiser to launch an aircraft in 1918 (light cruiser HMAS SYDNEY (I) was the first Australian ship to launch an aircraft in 1917). In the Pacific AUSTRALIA took part in seizing German Pacific colonies and destroying their radio networks. In the Atlantic it took part in sweeps, patrols and convoy escort tasks particularly in the North Sea and was present at the surrender of the German Fleet at Firth of Forth, Scotland in November 1918. HMAS AUSTRALIA arrived back in Australia in 1919.

    After the war, AUSTRALIA resumed normal duties in Australian waters until December 1921 when a lack of funding saw the vessel paid off into reserve. Most of the vessel's useful equipment and fittings were removed, and eventually it was decided to scrap AUSTRALIA under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 (which aimed at reducing global tonnage of warships after World War I). In January 1924 AUSTRALIA was sold for a mere £3,000, and on 12 April the battle cruiser was scuttled by demolition charges off Sydney Heads. In attendance were HMA Ships BRISBANE and ANZAC, and HM Ships DEHLI, DANAE, DAUNTLESS and DRAGON of the British Light Cruiser Squadron, and steamers crowded with spectators. The vessel disappeared amid almost as much fanfare as when it first arrived in Australia only 11 years previously.

    In March 2007 the deepest ever remote operated shipwreck survey was undertaken some 50 kilometres off Sydney. The survey was a joint venture between the Royal Australian Navy, Defence Maritime Services and the Heritage Office, NSW Department of Planning. The visiting US Navy submersible CURV descended 380 metres down to the 180-metre long, 19,000 ton shipwreck - the largest in Australian waters. The site is protected under the Commonwealth Historic Shipwrecks Act (1976).

    Source: 'Famous Australian Shipwrecks', Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, (19/04/2011)

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: German New Guinea - Rabaul - Samoa : HMAS AUSTRALIA 1914 - 1918

    Assigned title: HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) badge

    Related People
    Manufacturer: O T & S

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