AE-1 -  by Del M'Cay

She faced no battle flame, she heard no German gun,
The ship without a name, the luckless AE-1.
Yet were her sailor's lives no less for Empire lost,
And mothers, sweethearts, wives must pay the bitter cost.
Australia's warships sweep the broad Pacific main,
But one from out the deep will never rise again.
Yet we shall not forget, through all the years that run,
The fate that she has met - Goodbye to AE-1.

Pent in their iron cell, they sank beneath the wave,
Untouched by shot or shell, they drifted to the grave.
Until their painful breath at last began to fail;
Upon their way to death let pity draw the veil.
They could not strike one blow, but out of sound and sight
Of comrade or of foe they passed to endless night;
Deep down on Ocean's floor, far from the wind and sun,
They rest for evermore - Goodbye to AE-1

A harder fate was their's than men's who fight and die,
But still Australia cares, and will not pass them by;
When Honour's lists are read, their names will surely be
Among the gallant dead who fought to keep us free.
Their winding-sheet is steel, their sepulchre is wide;
Their's is a Monument of History, begun
When down to death they went - Goodbye to AE-1.

Transcribed from the diary in possession of H. Willis, 54 Denman Avenue, Lakemba, NSW, Australia. Rec'd by me on the 26th April 1990.


Will Lawson,  (born in England in 1876, resident in New Zealand since 1880, author of The red West Road, &c.), in The Bulletin. Published in 1914.

They heard no clamor of battle,
No charging squadron's cheers;
No murderous Maxim's rattle
Was dinned in their dying ears;
For,wrapped in the ocean boundless
Where the tides are scarcely stirred
In deeps that are still and soundless,
They perished, unseen, unheard.
O! brave are the heroes, dying
'Mid thunder of charge and gun;
But our half-mast flags are flying
For the crew of the "AE1."

Lean hull through the light waves leaping
Afar o'er the seas she sped,
Patrolling the long swells sweeping
With the sunlit clouds o'erhead.
One touch of the hand that steered her,
She answered swift to her helm;
Yet the scattering spray that cleared her
Could smother her and o'erwhelm.
And, into the deeps that bind her,
She plunged with a swirling run.
We may seek, but we shall not find her,
Or the crew of the "AE1."

The cruisers were dimly creeping
Like ghosts 'neath a dawn-lit sky,
Seeking, searching, and sweeping;
But the deps made no reply.
Hour after hour, they waited
For the lift of a conning tower,
And a periscope that vibrated
To her engines eager power,
Or the gleam of white wake hissing
In the rose of the rising sun.
They have posted them sadly,
"Missing -
The crew of the "AE1."

When Australia's brave sea story
Is written and told we know
Their names will be lit with glory;
And, wherever the six stars go,
Wherever, with bugles blowing,
Australia's flag shall wave,
It will tell of a dark tide flowing
O'er a lonely ocean grave.
And the sound of women weeping
For husband, lover, and son
Shall stir them not in their sleeping -
The crew of the "AE1.

Transcribed from the 'The School Paper', No. 181 for 2nd November 1914, Education Department, Victoria. Sent to me by Peter Smith, SHC, HMAS Platypus.