760 Tons (surfaced)
181' x 22' 6" x 12' 6"
4 x 18" torpedo tubes
RAN Sept 9, 1914
Captain Lt Cdr Thomas Fleming Besant (MIA / KIA)
Crew Telegraphist Cyril Lefroy Baker, 1268 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Stoker Ernest Fleming Blake, 7876 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Stoker John James Bray, 1604 (MIA / KIA) Eaglehawk, VIC
Crew Leading Seaman Gordon Clarence Corbould, 7297 (MIA / KIA) Sydney, NSW
Crew Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class James Alexander Fettes, 7290 (MIA / KIA) Sydney, NSW
Crew Able Seaman Arthur H. Fisher, 8191 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Stoker Richard B. Holt, 8266 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Able Seaman Jack Jarman, 1138 (MIA / KIA) St Kilda, VIC
Crew Stoker 1st Class John Joseph Maloney, 7299 (MIA / KIA) Chase, Southend-on-Sea, UK
Crew John Messenger, 7291 (MIA / KIA) Ballarat East, VIC
Crew John Reardon, 7474 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Robert Smail, 1068 (MIA / KIA)
Crew James Benjamin Thonas, 8111 (MIA / KIA) Sydney, NSW
Crew William A. Waddilove, 7300 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Percy L. Wilson, 7182 (MIA / KIA)
Crew Charles F. Wright, 7395 (MIA / KIA) North Kensington, UK
Missing September 14, 1914
Built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow-in-Furness, England. Laid down on November 14, 1911. Launched May 22, 1913. Commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as H.M.A. S/M. "AE1" on February 28, 1914 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Thomas F Besant,
RN with a mixed crew of Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Australian
(RAN) personnel. AE1 and her sister ship AE2 departed England bound for Sydney on May 24, 1914.
World War I
After the outbreak of the
World War I, the AE1 joined Australian naval forces assigned
Departed Sydney to take part in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) operations against German New Guinea. On September 9, 1914, AE1 rendezvoused with other RAN warships including the HMAS Australia and HMAS Encounter off Rossel Island (Yela) then proceeded to Rabaul arriving on September 13, 1914.
On September 14, 1914, the AE1 and HMAS
Parramatta departed Blanche Bay to patrol off Cape Gazelle. Last seen at approximately 3:30pm, the AE1
The Royal Australian Navy warships HMAS
Parramatta, HMAS Yarra,
HMAS Encounter and HMAS Warrego all searched for AE1,
but found no trace of the submarine. Presumed that it struck an uncharted reef and sank.
The AE1 has never been located. The Maritime Museum of Western Australia, sponsored by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) launched an unsuccessful attempt to locate the submarine in November 2003. The search area was concentrated to the south-east of the Duke of York Islands.
During February 2007, a new effort to locate the submarine was mounted by the RAN, when the survey ships Benalla and Shepparton attempted to locate the submarine off East New Britain, based on data compiled over the previous 30 years.] Benalla located an object of the appropriate dimensions using sonar on 1 March, that was reported prematurely in the The Sydney Morning Herald as "Missing WWI sub may have been found". Later identification conducted by HMAS Yarra confirmed though that this object is a rock with the same approximate dimensions.
The entire crew was officially declared dead on September 14, 1914. The entire crew is memorialized at the Plymouth Naval Memorial on panel 4 in Devon, UK. A memorial plaque to the crew of the AE1 is located in Bitapaka Cemetery.
HMA Submarine AE1 - Australia's First Submarine
AE1 Entombed: But Not Forgotten by John Foster
The Sydney Morning Herald "Missing WWI sub may have been found" March 1, 2007
The National "Missing WWI sub may have been found" March 2, 2007
AWM - AE1 (1914-1914)
Thomas Fleming Besant
Cyril Lefroy Baker
CWGC - Ernest Fleming Blake
John James Bray
Gordon Clarence Corbould
CWGC - James Alexander Fettes
Arthur H. Fisher
Richard B. Holt
John Joseph Maloney
CWGC - John Messenger
CWGC - John Reardon
CWGC - James Benjamin Thonas
CWGC - William A. Waddilove
Percy L. Wilson
Charles F. Wright
AWM Medals of Petty Officer P J Kempster, Royal Australian Navy" REL/10568.001
AWM Medals of Stoker Petty Officer J J Moloney, Submarine AE1, RAN" REL39990.001
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December 16, 2016