Part of AE1‘s hull, showing extensive corrosion. After 103 years since her loss, AE1 was located in waters off the Duke of York Island group in Papua New Guinea in December 2017. Image: Find the Men of AE1 Ltd.
Australia’s greatest naval mystery is solved at last
It is more than a century since Australia’s first submarine, HMAS AE1, disappeared without trace in the waters off Papua New Guinea. Its fate remained a mystery until late last year, when the most recent of many searches finally found its wreck.
My uncle John Messenger, known as Jack, was born in Ballarat, Victoria. He became a fitter and turner and studied to be a draughtsman. He was the eldest son, with six siblings. My father Albert was the second youngest. Jack was 20 when he was born.
Jack moved to Melbourne and enlisted in the Royal Navy as a crew member on the Australian Station in 1909.
Impression of AE1 Memorial (Image courtesy Artist Warren Langley).
Win one of two $300 cash prizes and a trip to the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney!
On 14 September 1914, in the first few months of World War One, Australia’s first submarine HMAS AE1 disappeared without a trace off Duke of York Island, near present-day Papua New Guinea. All thirty-five Australian and British officers and crew members were lost. To this day, AE1 has not been found.
To commemorate this tragic event, the Australian National Maritime Museum presents the Remembering AE1 National Speech Competition. It is open to Year 9 students who would like to investigate the story of AE1 and offer their insights on ideas of commemoration, war and the place of this tragic yet unsolved event in Australian history.
Two winners will each receive a $300 cash prize and be flown to Sydney to present their speeches as part of the official opening of a commemorative art installation on Monday 14 September.
The art installation, The Ocean Bed Their Tomb, will appear to float on the water outside the museum’s new Warships Pavilion (due to open in November, 2015) to commemorate the loss of AE1 and the thirty-five men aboard, and encourage visitors to reflect on its meaning. The form – a wreath – is also about loss in general, and so can speak to anyone who has lost someone at sea in war service.
Click here to enter, and for more details about the competition. HURRY, just three-and-a-half weeks to go – entries close 12pm Thursday 6 August.