Ruth Whitfield Memorial Park HMAS AE2 ANZAC Tribute | Kallangur

Following the outbreak of World War 1 in August 1914, HMAS AE2 was ordered to join the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force.

Rich in history the, the Ruth Whitfield Memorial Park in Kallangur is home to a commemorative replica of the AE2; many visit the park (and other ANZAC memorial sites along ANZAC Avenue) to honour the brave exploits of its crew during the Gallipoli Campaign.

The park features a mural inscribed with World War 1 important facts about the HMAS AE2’s brave exploits along with a replica submarine monument.

World War 1 Important Facts – The Story of the HMAS AE2

The HMAS AE2 was part of an ambitious plan to help defeat Germany and its allies during World War One. Its mission was to prove submarines could make it through the heavily fortified gauntlet of the Dardenelles Strait to the Sea of Marmara – a daunting 60 kilometre journey which required outwitting the enemy while battling strong and tricky currents.

Commanded by Irish Lieutenant-Commander Henry Stoker, the AE2 manuevered through the treacherous strait by navigating a minefield, evading pursuing enemy gunboats, destroyers, tugs and smaller craft, and diving to elude surveillance sweeps and avoid traps set in its course.

“The manner in which they [the crew] performed their duties was such as to earn the most complete recommendation that I can possibly give them,” attested Lieutenant-Commander Henry Stoker upon his return to England.

The crew prevailed against the odds and made it out the other end into the Sea of Marmara, however, the mission was not yet complete, the battered submarine and its weary seamen still had a final, crucial phase to carry-out.

The next phase required the AE2 to attack mine-laying ships and ‘run amok’, disrupting transportation of enemy troops and supplies to the Gallipoli Peninsula and creating a diversion which would distract the enemy as the ANZACs and Allied forces breached Turkey’s shoreline on ANZAC Day, April 25th 1915.

Despite unsuccessful skirmishes with enemy vessels in the Sea of Marmara, HMAS AE2 did succeeed in causing chaos which resulted in fewer Allied casualties than would otherwise have transpired without the submarine’s intervention. But, AE2’s luck was soon to run out, disaster loomed as the damaged ship began to succumb to her wounds.

While diving to evade an enemy vessel, the submarine inexplicably inclined upwards, breaching the surface while the crew scrambled to submerge it again. With the diving rudders unresponsive and the forward tanks flooded, the hulking collusus dived, this time out of control, past the limit of the depth gauges – 100 feet – and further down. Control was eventually regained and it resurfaced, but only to plummet again, repeating the horrific experience once more as the enemy closed in.

The end came quickly, when AE2 breached the surface for a final moment it was hit 3 times, no longer able to dive, the crew abandoned ship as AE2 took on water and slid gracefully into the depths descending on its final, deepest dive.

AE2 World War 1 Important Facts

  • Built in Britain for the Australian Navy in 1914.
  • Half the crew were Royal Navy, the other half Royal Australian Navy.
  • 3 officers and 29 crew were aboard for its last voyage.
  • First Allied warship to make it through the Dardanelles Strait.
  • Armed only with a limited number of torpedos (no British submarine at that time was fitted with a gun).
  • During its passage through the Dardenelles its diving control was lost, its ballast tanks were damaged and leaking, and its radio transmitters and receiving intruments were also damaged.
  • All crew members survived the sinking, but became prisoners of war. 4 died as prisoners.
  • HMAS AE2 lies at a depth of 72 metres, on the floor of the Sea of Marmara. Its final resting place.

More ANZAC Tributes in the Moreton Bay Region:

Feel the spirit of the Anzacs brought to life on Anzac Avenue

Find out what is happening near you for Anzac Day

Access Ruth Whitfield Park from the Kippa-Ring to Petrie shared pathway

Discover more ANZAC memorials here! Share your adventure with us #visitmoretonbayregion

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Acknowledgement of Country - We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and waterways of the Moreton Bay Region, the Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi, Jinibara, and Turrbal people and pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging. We recognise the ongoing connection that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have to this land and recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the original custodians of this land.