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HMAS AUSTRALIA II firing a torpedo

Date: c 1928
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Margaret Kiley-Balas
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: ANMS0823[208]

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    Description
    This photograph belonged to John Berchmans Kiley, who served on HMA Ships SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA and MELBOURNE. The photograph shows a torpedo being fired from HMAS AUSTRALIA (II).
    SignificanceThis postcard is a record of HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) which holds a significant place in Australian history having served in the Royal Australian Navy over four decades.
    HistoryJohn Berchmans Kiley was born on 29 January 1910 and joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1925. He began his naval service on HMAS TINGIRA, a ship for boy sailors moored at Rose Bay in Sydney, where he trained for 15 months. He went on to join HMAS SYDNEY and travelled to England, returning home on HMAS AUSTRALIA's (II) maiden voyage to Australia in 1928. Kiley also served in HMAS MELBOURNE, and undertook four years of training at HMAS CERBERUS studying a range of gunnery courses. Kiley reached the rank of Leading Seaman, and to his great disappointment was invalidated out of the navy around 1930 due to respiratory illness.

    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 - Four and a half years after the first Australian flagship HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) was scuttled off Sydney Heads

    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.

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