Stories of the Royal Australian Navy


Wednesday 10 July, 2019

On this day in 1911, The Royal Australian Navy is formed. HM King George V bestowed on the Permanent Naval Forces the title 'Royal Australian Navy' and approved of Australian ships of war being called ‘His Majesty’s Australian Ship’. The image shows RAN personnel opening Christmas hampers, 29 December 1944. This anniversary will be acknowledged in the Shrine's Monthly Memorial Service next Thursday 18 July in the Sanctuary at 11.30am. All are welcome to attend.

Here we have curated for you a selection of Shrine podcast episodes that feature stories of the Royal Australian Navy. Happy listening.


Entranced by the myths surrounding the army’s Kokoda campaign in Papua, few Australians appreciate or even know of the role played by the Royal Australian Navy between December 1941 and August 1945. Ian Pfennigwerth demonstrates that our ships and men were in the forefront of the fighting, not in backwaters, and their professionalism and skills in many warfare areas were respected, applied and recognised with awards by US Commanders.

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Meet some of our last surviving Second World War navy veterans Jim Paizis, Norm Tame, Hiram Ristrom, Ray Leonard and Pamela Nicholls of the WRANS as they recount tales of their service. From taking part in the Battle of Coral Sea to decoding and encoding war-winning intelligence, these vets reflect upon their time at sea. Chaired by Shrine Trustee Tracey Curro. This talk was part of a series of programs in support of the Shrine’s special exhibition Nerves and Steel: The Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific 1941–45.

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Second World War navy veteran Ray Leonard recounts the fateful day in December 1942 when HMAS Armidale came under attack by thirteen Japanese aircraft off the coast of Timor.

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Naval historian, Ian Pfenningwerth discusses the important and often overlooked role of the Navy during the First World War. Hear about the significant role this new Australian fleet had in persuading the German Navy to leave the Pacific.

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HMAS Perth I AND HER MEN: Commemorating the 70th anniversary of her loss in the Battle of the Suna Strait.

2012 marked the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the HMAS Perth I and USS Houston in the plucky Battle of the Sunda Strait on 1 March 1942. Pattie discusses the men's attempts to survive, escape and the POW years on the Thai Burma Railway and in Japan.

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In 2008 the finding of HMAS Sydney, sunk by the German Raider HSK Kormoran on 19 November 1941, touched the heart of the nation and brought a measure of peace to the families of the 645 Sydney men who were killed. This talk tells of the Finding Sydney Foundation (FSF), from its inception to success, and the research that predicted the position of the raider Kormoran and provided accurate and efficient search boxes for both wrecks.

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During the Second World War, heavy cruiser HMAS Australia (II) protected our nation’s borders, trawled the Atlantic for German battleships and served alongside US forces in the Pacific where she survived both the Battle of Coral Sea and the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She withstood mutiny, the first on an Australian war ship and multiple kamikaze attacks. Join journalist and author Mike Carlton as he delves into the intriguing history of the last ship to bear Australia’s name.

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