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Heroes of the Navy

Wed 14 Jun, 2023, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Zoom Presentation,


Heroes of the Navy” argues that there are many unrecognised heroes of the Australian force who deserve further recognition.

Some are quite well known. Hec. Waller, for example, commanded the cruiser HMAS Perth to the end. He was rewarded with only a Mention in Despatches though – a badge rather than the Victoria Cross he should have received. His fellow cruiser captain – Rooks of the USS Houston – who died alongside. was given the Medal of Honour, the USA’s highest award. Why the discrepancy?

But at least Waller got something. Robert Rankin and Ron Taylor of HMAS Yarra received no personal recognition, although their ship did, for a brave stand against overwhelming Japanese odds in defence of their convoy.

So far, the Navy has named seven ships, and some shore bases, after distinguished personnel from its past. But why stop there? Why name ships after rivers, capes, towns, and cities, when we have so many sterling heroes to draw from? This presentation outlines some possible ship names drawn from our past: Harry Howden, Ron Taylor, Francis Emms, Jonathan Rogers and more. How about HMAS Bracegirdle or HMAS Syme? There are several more in the list which could revitalise how we celebrate the best from our past.

This relevant and controversial presentation is certain to stir the imaginations and comments of those interested in Australia’s military and naval history.

Presenter: Dr Tom Lewis OAM RAN (Rtd)

Tom Lewis has combined three interesting career paths to make him one of Australia’s foremost military historians. He has integrated a 20-year RAN track, primarily as an intelligence analyst, with high school teaching, and work as an historian. His 30-year writing career followed time as a journalist, with his first publication Wrecks in Darwin Waters, which was followed by an analysis in Darwin’s Submarine of the first successful submarine RAN action of WWII, resulting in the sinking of the I-124, which still lies outside Darwin today with her 80-man ship’s company. Zero Hour in Broome analysed the second biggest air raid on Australia, and The Submarine Six presented biographies of the six who had RAN submarines named after them; while Lethality in Combat, his most controversial work, analysed the realities of battlefield combat.

Carrier Attack, an extensive technical analysis of the first Darwin raid, revealed many unknown aspects of that assault, and Teddy Sheean VC chronicled not only the fight of this naval hero but the fight to get him the Victoria Cross he deserved. Tom’s most recent publications are The Empire Strikes South, an accounting of all Japanese air raids made in Northern Australia, showing the attacks were far more widespread than first thought, and Atomic Salvation: how the atomic bombs saved the lives of 30 million. His Order of Australia medal was presented for services to naval history.


 Please join us 

Heroes of the Navy

Zoom Presentation: 11:00am. Wednesday, 14th. June 2023 

Link to Join



Wed 14 Jun, 2023
10:30 am - 12:30 pm
Event Category:


Zoom Presentation