Australia's Real Baptism Of Fire - WW1 New Book
September 2014 will mark the centenary of Australia's first armed conflict of World War One. Britain had declared war with Germany on the 4th August 1914. Australia followed and promised, " to help and defend her to our last man and our last shilling." On the 6th August, Britain asked for Australia to make urgent capture of German Interests to our north in New Guinea and associated islands. During the late 19th Century, Germany had made a colony in New Guinea and several Pacific island groups. Importantly, Australia was to seize and destroy a radio station located at Rabaul. Britain believed that this radio station was being used for relay communication for the German Navy ships namely the Cruisers Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau.
Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
During these early times, Australians displayed much enthusiasm for the war. A 2000 strong Force which was to be called Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (ANMEF) was quickly assembled from the large number of volunteers. In Sydney, 1000 men mostly with prior military service made up the 1st Battalion of the ANMEF. A further 500 naval reservists and 500 militia volunteers from the Kennedy Regiment North Queensland, two machine-gun sections, a signalling section, and a detachment of the Australian Army Medical Corps completed the force. The fledgling Australian Navy supplied a flotilla of ships which included the AE1 and AE2 Submarines.
On the 11th September 1914 the force arrived at Rabual and the Battle of Bita Paka was fought against the defenders. During the Battle six Australians were killed and five wounded, there was some acts of extraordinary heroism. The loss of life was swelled when the AE1 Submarine was mysteriously lost with all hands of 35 sailors.
The Germans at Rabaul surrendered on September 13, Nadang was occupied on September 24, New Ireland on October 17, Nauru on November 6, the Admiralty Islands on November 19, and the German Solomon Islands on December 9.
The ANMEF left New Guinea on January 9,1915, having been relieved by the specially recruited Tropical Force.
Click here see a detailed account of the ANMEF Military Book.