Breathtaking Australian naval histories told by journalist Mike Carlton.
Mike Carlton is best known as a radio, television news and current affairs reporter, foreign correspondent and newspaper columnist, but he’s also a lifetime devotee of naval history. His books – Cruiser, First Victory and Flagship – open doors to the hardships, horrors and triumphs of maritime warfare, told from a uniquely Australian point of view. From the carnage caused by German raiders in WW1 to the disastrous evacuation of Crete and the Pacific kamikaze threat of WW2, Carlton draws on the facts and impeccable research to chronicle Australia’s naval record in dazzling detail. At the same time he offers snapshots of the lives and times of those aboard our naval fleets, detailing personal stories from and societal reflections of these pivotal moments in history. Here’s an introduction to the harrowing stories he tells.
In the opening months of WW1, a German raider, Emden, wreaked havoc on the maritime trade of the British Empire. Its battle against the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney, when it finally came, was short and bloody – an emphatic First Victory at sea for the fledgling Royal Australian Navy. With new facts and Australian perspectives brought into the light of day, this is the stirring story of the opening months of the Great War and the Australian triumph that resounded around the world.
Of all the Australians who fought in the Second World War, none saw more action nor endured so much of its hardship and horror as the crew of the cruiser HMAS Perth. Most were young – many still teenagers – from cities and towns, villages and farms across the nation. Only a third of her crew survived to return home at war’s end. Many died during battles against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the Vichy French and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Many more were captured and became victims of unimaginable atrocities. Cruiser is their story.
In 1942, while safely in Australian waters, the HMAS Australia II became the unlikely scene of a murder that shocked the nation. Weeks later Australia II fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea, to stop the Japanese advance in the Pacific. In 1944 she took part in the greatest sea fight of all time, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and was struck by a kamikaze bomber, killing her captain and 28 other men. The next year, she was hit by no fewer than four kamikaze planes on four successive days. With inimitable panache and flawless research, Carlton tells the story of Australia II, her crew, and the era’s fascinating naval and social history.