Anzac Day – The ‘silent’ success of Australia’s first submarine service HMAS AE2

Retired Australian Navy submariner Lloyd Blake wants Australians to not just honor the lives lost in the First World War on Anzac Day this year, but also recognize the success “silent” of Australia’s first submarine service.

Mr Blake, a resident of Mt Hawthorn – who served as an Australian Navy submariner for 10 years – will enlighten participants at the Mt Hawthorn Anzac Day Service at Axford Park on April 25 on the success of “ Silent ANZAC” – Her Majesty’s Australian AE2 Submarine.

“At dawn on April 25, 1915, as ANZAC soldiers landed at Gallipoli, HMAS AE2 was the first submarine to successfully negotiate the complicated Dardanelles sea route to the Sea of ​​Marmara. . . the Turkish military supply route to Gallipoli,” Mr Blake said.

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“The disaster on the lands of Gallipoli could have been worse if the supply route to Gallipoli had not been closed.

Camera iconAustralian stamp issued in 2014 celebrating the centenary of military aviation with the arrival of HMAS AE2 in 1914 Credit: Photo provided

“Captain Dacre Stoker of HMAS AE2 reported the success to the ANZAC Flotilla and reported details of the submerged navigation of the Dardanelles Passage.

“Eleven allied submarines followed AE2’s advice through the Dardanelles to the Sea of ​​Marmara.”

After five days of technical difficulties and Turkish gunfire action, HMAS AE2 was scuttled but no lives were lost.

“It was damaged to the point that it could no longer dive – no one was hurt in the AE2 conflict so they scuttled the boat and sent it to the bottom and the crew just swam out of the boat, picked up by the Turks and ended up in POW camps,” Mr Blake said.

The 78-year-old said the only success of the Gallipoli campaign was the entry of HMAS AE2 through the Dardanelles sea route and the submarines that followed.

Lloyd Blake was in the Australian Navy in submarines, he will address the public at the Mt Hawthorn ANZAC Day Service at Axford Park.  Andrew Ritchie
Camera iconLloyd Blake was in the Australian Navy in submarines, he will address the public at the Mt Hawthorn ANZAC Day Service at Axford Park. Andrew Ritchie Credit: Andrew Ritchie/Perth now

“I think almost every Anzac Day is about remembering the loss of people which is important, but also reminding people that there have been successes,” Mr Blake said.

“It was the first Australian Navy submarine and it was the start of Royal Australian Navy submarine service, and Australians served on that boat as well as some West Australians.”

Mr Blake said two West Australians served on the crew of HMAS AE2, including Seaman Jim Cullen who was released from prison and later returned to a family dairy farm in Midland Junction.

Lloyd Blake was in the Australian Navy in submarines.  He will address the public at the Mt Hawthorn ANZAC Day Service at Axford Park.  Andrew Ritchie
Camera iconLloyd Blake was in the Australian Navy in submarines. He will address the public at the Mt Hawthorn ANZAC Day Service at Axford Park. Andrew Ritchie Credit: Andrew Ritchie/Perth now

Once, a member of the HMAS AE2 crew, engineer George Suckling, was released as a prisoner of war from Turkey. He married and opened a butcher’s shop in Fremantle. He died in 1983, outliving all of his shipmates who boarded HMAS AE2.

“The message of Anzac Day, and it runs throughout Anzac Days, is that those honored – living or dead – are ordinary Australians doing fantastic things,” Mr Blake said.

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