‘The Mystery Of The AE1’ by Kathryn Spurling
Australia’s first submarines, AE1 and AE2 entered Sydney Harbour on 24 May 1914 after a voyage from Britain that The London Times declared: ‘Manifestly the most remarkable yet performed by a submarine — 83 days, 60 of which were spent at sea. Australians were fascinated by their submarines and proud that their young navy was bravely at the forefront of such technology. Britain declared war against Germany on 4 August 1914 and the British Admiralty despatched the Australian fleet to capture German New Guinea and destroy the German Pacific fleet, and was seen off Duke of York Island in St George’s Channel.
Then AE1 simply disappeared. This was the first loss of a military unit during World War I and the beginning of a terrible war for Australians. An ensuing search found no trace, and for the families of the 35 officers and sailors within AE1 life would never be the same.