The Cruiser HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan
In 1924 the grand old battle cruiser HMAS Australia I, once the pride of the nation, was sunk off Sydney Heads. She had saved Australia from a German attack in the Pacific in World War I, but after the war she was a victim in the race to disarm. There was a day of national mourning when they blew the bottom out of her.
In 1928 the RAN acquired a new ship of the same name, the fast, heavy cruiser HMAS Australia II, and she finally saw action when World War II began, patrolling the North Atlantic on the lookout for German battleships. By March 1942 Australia had returned home, where the ship was stunned by a murder.
One night one of her sailors, Stoker Riley, was found stabbed and bleeding to death. Before he died, he named his two attackers, who’d tried to kill him because, he said, he’d threatened to expose their homosexual activities.
At a hastily arranged court martial, the two men were found guilty and sentenced to death under British Admiralty law. Only weeks later Australia fought in the Battle of the Coral Sea near Papua New Guinea, the first sea battle to stop the Japan.
Mike Carlton is one of Australia's best-known broadcasters and journalists. In a 40-year career, he has been a radio and television news and current affairs reporter, foreign correspondent, radio host and newspaper columnist. He was an ABC war correspondent in Vietnam in 1967 and 1970, and for three years was the ABC's Bureau Chief in Jakarta. He also reported for the ABC from London, New York and major Asian capitals. In television, he was one of the original reporters on the ABC's groundbreaking This Day Tonight in the 1970s.
Mike turned to talk radio in 1980, first at Sydney's 2GB, and then for four years in London at Newstalk 97.3FM, where he won a coveted Sony Radio Academy award in 1993 for Britain's best talk breakfast program. In television, he reported and hosted Indonesia: A Reporter Returns, a three-part documentary for SBS in 2008. He has recently retired from the Radio 2UE breakfast program in Sydney and has returned to writing a column for the Saturday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald. Mike has had a life-long passion for naval history and is the author of Cruiser and, his most recent book, First Victory.