- Book reviewer
- Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities, History - WW1, Book reviews, WWI operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS AE2
- September 2002 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Title: The Shores of Gallipoli
Author: Tom Frame.
Publisher: Hale & Iremonger 2000.
Reviewed by: Peter Colthorpe.
The legend of ANZAC is well known by all but few know of the RAN’s involvement in the campaign. The Navy was involved from the beginning with the successful passage of the submarine AE2 in the early hours of 25th April 1915 and at the end when the RAN Bridging Train was the last group to leave Suvla Bay.
When the troops landed at Anzac Cove they stormed into history. Prior to 25th April 1915 they were without tradition or history, but by the end of the day the amateur Australian Army was to be revered around the world. The RAN in 1915 was not at all like the Army. It was a professional force, well trained by predominantly RN officers and with a tradition stretching back to the days of Drake. The force had been blooded with the defeat of SMS Emden by HMAS Sydney in 1914 and its own loss of HMA Submarine AE 1.
This book covers the formation of the Fleet and the reasons why the new nation was prepared to invest in a powerful naval force. It has been written for people who have no prior knowledge of the RAN and the reader is well prepared for the detailed history of the RAN in the Dardanelles Campaign. However, there is plenty to interest the naval history buff.
The AE2 story is covered in great detail and leads on to the discovery and exploration of the wreck in the Sea of Marmora in 1998. The submarine had a short but eventful commission. She was the first submarine to successfully penetrate the Narrows and attacked several ships. Unfortunately, her torpedoes did not prove as reliable as the submarine and AE2 achieved little success in her mission. However, she did prove it possible to enter the Sea of Marmora and later RN submarine missions were to cause the Turkish Navy considerable problems.
AE2 herself was subsequently sunk and the crew captured. The book covers their captivity in some detail and the reader is made aware of the hard and difficult life of a POW of the Turks. Once again, not a subject that is commonly associated with the ANZAC legend, but the courage and fortitude of the crew should be recognised.
The other RAN unit covered in this book is the Bridging Train. This unit was formed and tasked with the building and maintenance of pontoon piers at Suvla Bay. The job was difficult and dangerous, with several men being wounded. The train supported the British advance up Hill 60 in building trench systems after the attack. Unlike the submarine crew, the Bridging Train was more typical of the Australian forces and they were critical of the British commanders and the lack of organisation at the front.
The Bridging Train was the last formation recovered off Suvla Bay in December 1915 and thus commenced the tradition of the RAN of protecting our troops on withdrawal. The Shores of Gallipoli is good reading and I believe most people will enjoy the style and content. It fits well with other previous books on the subject and adds to the histories of the campaign.