Australian submarine AE2 arriving at Portsmouth, England, 1914. ANMM collection.

War at Sea - The Navy in WWI

The histories of Australian soldiers at Gallipoli and the Western Front are well documented and studied; less well known is the involvement of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). This travelling exhibition will tell this history through the personal stories of those who were there - some of them for the first time.

This exhibition holds rare WWI artefacts from the collections of the Australian National Maritime Museum, the National Film and Sound Archives and the Australian War Memorial. It includes multimedia and interactives that will highlight the lived experience of the fledgling Australian Navy during WWI. While the exhibition looks at some of the navy's well known triumphs such as the battle between HMAS Sydney and the German raider SMS Emden, it includes less well known stories such as the role of the RAN Bridging Train and the submarine AE2 at Gallipoli.

War at Sea focuses on the stories of sailors and includes a number of diaries and journals from various naval personnel including Douglas Fraser Ballantyne - who describes the experiences of the RAN Bridging Train unit that built pontoons at Suvla Bay and were the last Australian unit to leave the shores of Gallipoli.

Other firsthand accounts are from unknown hands, such as the 'Ship's Log' from HMAS Sydney. The exhibition invites people to add information about these diaries, as well as any personal family histories or stories about the navy in WWI.

Apart from diaries and journals there are over 130 objects in the exhibition, including medals, souvenirs, photographs, letters, paintings and other personal momentos. These objects will be explored in detail in the exhibition and online.

The exhibition opens on 12 September 2014 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Australia's first casualties of WWI. Not widely known in Australian memory of The Great War, these first casualties were mainly naval personnel from the Australian Naval and Military Expedition to German New Guinea. Then, only 2 days later, the next Australian casualties were the loss with all hands of the submarine AE1 off the coast of New Guinea.

War at Sea - The Navy in WWI travels to regional museums around Australia from 2015 to 2018.

Navy | Royal Australian Navy | naval warfare | submarine

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Australian National Maritime Museum

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