Lost: The stories of all ships lost by the Royal Australian Navy. Written and published by Allen Lyne in Adelaide, 2013. ISBN 980-0-646-90375-0 in soft cover, 305 pages with plentiful b & w photographs and some illustrations. Price $32 + $3 postage or in E-Book format at $12. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allen Lyne had twelve years service as a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy where be developed a keen sense of naval history. He later attended the University of Adelaide and gained an arts degree. His first hand experience and compassion for his fellow man shows throughout his commentary.
In this book Allen has made a unique and significant contribution to the historical record in placing much of the copious information available on the tragic losses of forty-five ships in one convenient volume. In chronological sequence and with a handy index of ships by name, this covers a period of sixty years, from the first recorded loss of the submarine AE1 off New Guinea on 14 September 1914 to the last, that of the patrol boat HMAS Arrow, which was wrecked during Cyclone Tracey on Christmas Day 1974. Many know something of the stories surrounding the sinking of the cruisers Canberra, Perth and Sydney but would have not heard of their smaller counterparts requisitioned for war-time service such as Patricia Cam and Matafele. Of course losses do not just refer to ships but invariably the loss of life of those who served in them.
The book lists forty-five losses which does not include HMAS Kuru although she is correctly mentioned in providing assistance during the losses of Armadale, Patricia Cam and Voyager. Kuru was herself damaged beyond repair following a severe storm in Darwin in October 1943; she may therefore be added to unenviable tally of losses. As most losses occurred during WW11 the book virtually provides a précis of most naval actions conducted by the RAN during this war.
All information is generally well researched drawing on numerous sources in discussing details of various ships and scenarios, leading to their demise. The author follows this commentary with his own interpretation of these events and draws conclusions. Some of these appear to follow a personal bias, and may not pass the rigour of critical analysis.
The book is well laid out and easy to use both as an enjoyable history and, for later use as reference material. The work involved in gathering this information into one comprehensive volume is commendable. The lively commentary engages the reader but the style is unusual and tends towards the vernacular. There may be a further intent to invite controversy. In this the author surely succeeds as some of his findings may be hotly debated.
Reviewed by Walter Burroughs