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Letter from the Australian High Commissioner's Offices to Mrs Woodland regarding the grant of a widow's pension for the loss of her husband on the submarine AE1

Date: 20 October 1914
Dimensions:
Display dimensions: 330 x 203 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Annie Goldie
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Letter
Object No: ANMS0824[003]

User Terms

    Description
    A letter from Captain F. Haworth Booth, Naval Representative at the Australian High Commissioner's Offices in London, to Mrs Woodland dated 20 October 1914. The letter informs Mrs Woodland of the Australian Government's decision to grant a pension to the widows and families of those lost on the submarine HMAS AE1.
    SignificanceThe submarines AE1 and AE2 have a significant place in RAN history, not only as the first submarines built for the navy but also the role they played in Australia’s first engagements in World War 1. AE1 as part of the Australian Expeditionary Force to New Guinea and AE2 in her heroic mission through the Dardanelles and into the Sea of Marmora.
    Crews of submarines were very much viewed as heroes, "That is why every man who joins the sub- marine service, officer and man, are among the pick of the navy, the bravest of brave. Though AE1 was not lost in action with the enemy, each man on board, from Lieutenant-Commander Besant down, ready to hazard his life in the dangerous work he had chosen in the Empire's vice “(Sydney Morning Herald, 21 September 1914).

    HistoryThe 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, HMA Submarine 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 that may 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 AE2 had not returned to Simpson Harbour as agreed. HMAS PARRAMATTA and HMAS YARRA started to search for her 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 searching, which now also included a number of smaller vessels available to the Australians, 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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