Thomas Anthony Lewis
|Popular Military Historian and Author
Thomas Anthony Lewis, OAM (born 1958) is an Australian author, popular military historian, editor, teacher, and former naval officer. An author since 1989, Lewis worked as a high school teacher, and served as naval officer for 20 years, seeing active service in Baghdad during the Iraq war, and working in East Timor. In June 2003, Lewis was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly in the promotion of Australian naval history.
After reconstituting the Royal Australian Naval College Historical Collection, with which his Order of Australia is largely connected, Lewis was the Director of the Darwin Military Museum from 2009 until April 2014, when he took up full-time research on several World War I and II projects. Amongst these are his role as Lead Historian and Creative Designer for The Borella Ride, the re-enactment of the journey of Albert Borella VC to sign up for military service in 1915.
Lewis was also Lead Historian for The Territory Remembers, a project of the Northern Territory Government to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first attacks on Australia during the Second World War.
Lewis is the author or co-author of 18 books, all of which are popular works of military history except for one which charts the Tasman Bridge disaster – he was raised largely in Tasmania, although born in London. He was the editor of Headmark, the Journal of the Australian Naval Institute, from 2005 until 2016. His most recent works are: Honour Denied – Teddy Sheean, A Tasmanian Hero (Avonmore Books), launched in Hobart in May 2016 by the Tasmanian Premier; The Empire Strikes South (Avonmore); launched in Darwin on 15 February 2017 by the Administrator of the Northern Territory, and Darwin Bombed! A Young Person's Guide to the Japanese attacks of 19 February 1942. In July 2020 Big Sky Publishing released his Atomic Salvation, a controversial analysis of the 1945 A-bomb attacks on Japan.
From 2013-2020 Lewis was the Chairman of the Order of Australia Association (NT). From 2015-2018 he was the Chairman of the Northern Territory Place Names Committee. In 2018 he was elected an alderman of the City of Palmerston, until August 2021. Lewis has been a high school teacher in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Lewis holds the qualifications of Doctorate of Philosophy in Strategic Studies (Charles Darwin University 2004); Master of Arts in American Science Fiction and Cold War Politics (University of Queensland 1993); Diploma of Education (University of Tasmania 1984); and Bachelor of Arts in English (University of Tasmania 1983).
HMAS Sheean is the fifth of six Collins-class submarines operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
HMAS Castlemaine (J244/M244/A248), named for the city of Castlemaine, Victoria, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially crewed and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
HMAS Deloraine (J232/M232), named for the town of Deloraine, Tasmania, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). In January 1942 she evaded an attack by the Japanese submarine I-124 north-west of Darwin and was jointly credited with the submarine's sinking after inflicting the initial damage. She was present at the bombing of Darwin and survived unscathed.
Between February 1942 and November 1943, during the Pacific War of World War II, the Australian mainland, domestic airspace, offshore islands, and coastal shipping were attacked at least 111 times by aircraft from the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force and Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. These attacks came in various forms; from large-scale raids by medium bombers, to torpedo attacks on ships, and to strafing runs by fighters.
The Bombing of Darwin, also known as the Battle of Darwin, on 19 February 1942 was the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. On that day, 242 Japanese aircraft, in two separate raids, attacked the town, ships in Darwin Harbour and the town's two airfields in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases to contest the invasion of Timor and Java during World War II.
USS Peary (DD-226) was a Clemson-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was commissioned in 1920 and sunk by Japanese aircraft at Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, on 19 February 1942.
There was considerable Axis naval activity in Australian waters during the Second World War, despite Australia being remote from the main battlefronts. German and Japanese warships and submarines entered Australian waters between 1940 and 1945 and attacked ships, ports and other targets. Among the best-known attacks are the sinking of HMAS Sydney by a German raider in November 1941, the bombing of Darwin by Japanese naval aircraft in February 1942, and the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. About 40 Allied merchant ships were damaged or sunk off the Australian coast by surface raiders, submarines and mines. Japanese submarines also shelled three Australian ports and submarine-based aircraft flew over several Australian capital cities.
Edward "Teddy" Sheean, was a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War. Born in Tasmania, Sheean was employed as a farm labourer when he enlisted in the Royal Australian Naval Reserve in April 1941. Following training at HMAS Derwent and the Flinders Naval Depot, he was posted to Sydney, where he joined the newly commissioned corvette HMAS Armidale in June 1942. Sheean served aboard Armidale as she took part in escort duties along the eastern Australian coast and in New Guinea waters. In October he transferred with the ship to Darwin, where Armidale was tasked with assisting Australian operations in Timor.
HMAS Coonawarra is a Royal Australian Navy (RAN) base located in Darwin, Northern Territory, and is home to seven fleet units of the RAN. The current commander is Captain Moses Raudino, ADC, RAN.
HMAS Armidale (J240), named for the then town of Armidale, New South Wales, was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
SS Zealandia, nicknamed "Z", was an Australian cargo and passenger steamship. She served as a troopship in both World War I and World War II. Zealandia transported the Australian 8th Division. Her crew were the last Allied personnel to see HMAS Sydney, which was lost with all hands in 1941. Zealandia was sunk in the air raids on Darwin of 19 February 1942.
HMAS Warrnambool (J202), named for the city of Warrnambool, Victoria was one of 60 Bathurst-class corvettes constructed during World War II, and one of 36 initially manned and commissioned solely by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Warrnambool sank after she hit a mine in the Great Barrier Reef on 13 September 1947. She was one of only four Bathurst class corvettes lost while in Australian service, and the only one lost after World War II.
I-124, originally named Submarine Minelayer No. 52 and then named I-24 from before her launch until June 1938, was an I-121-class submarine of the Imperial Japanese Navy that served during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War II. During the latter conflict, she operated in support of the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and was sunk during anti-shipping operations off Australia in January 1942.
Attacks on continental Australia during World War II were relatively rare due to Australia's geographic position. However, axis surface raiders and submarines periodically attacked shipping in the Australian coastal waters from late 1940 to early 1945. Japanese aircraft bombed towns and airfields in Northern Australia on 97 occasions during 1942 and 1943. Papua New Guinea was a part of Australia's overseas territories until 1975, and so the large Japanese invasion in 1942 was a significant invasion of territory under Australian control.
HMAS Matafele was a small cargo and passenger vessel which was operated by Burns Philp from 1938 to 1942 and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from 1943 until she was lost with all of her crew as a result of an accident in June 1944.
The Pensacola Convoy is a colloquialism for a United States military shipping convoy that took place in late 1941 as the Pacific War began. The name was derived from that of its primary escort ship, the heavy cruiser USS Pensacola. Pensacola was officially designated Task Group 15.5 and Army sources may use the term Republic convoy for the senior convoy vessel. The convoy, dispatched in peacetime, was intended to reinforce the United States Army Forces Far East (USAFFE), created to defend the U.S. Commonwealth of the Philippines and commanded by General Douglas MacArthur, with artillery, aircraft, munitions and fuel, as the threat of war with the Empire of Japan loomed. After war broke out, and Japanese forces attacked the Philippines, the convoy was diverted to Brisbane, Australia.
HMAS Melville is a former Royal Australian Navy (RAN) shore base located in Darwin, Northern Territory, in Australia. The base was in use between 1935 and 1974.
Don Isidro, delivered in 1939, was the second and larger of two Krupp built motor ships of De La Rama Steamship Company, Iloilo, Philippines in inter-island service. The ship was under charter by the United States Army as a transport during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. As defending forces became cut off from supply by the Japanese blockade Don Isidro was one of eight ships, only three of which were successful, known to make an attempt to run the blockade. In that attempt, under her captain Rafael J. Cisneros, Don Isidro became involved in the 19 February Japanese attack on Darwin, Australia where, though not in the port, she was strafed, bombed and left off Bathurst Island burning with all lifeboats destroyed. The captain attempted to make land when she grounded about three miles off Melville Island to which survivors swam. Of the sixty-seven crew and sixteen soldiers aboard eleven of the crew and one soldier were killed or missing. Survivors were rescued by HMAS Warrnambool, taken to Darwin, treated at the hospital and then awaited orders at the 147th Field Artillery camp.
The Fujita salvage operation was a two-year marine salvage operation of World War II shipwrecks in Darwin Harbour in the Northern Territory of Australia from 1959 to 1961.
Naval Base Darwin was a United States Navy base built during World War II at Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The first US operations at Darwin was Naval mine depot, built to supply Australia with mines to support the Pacific War. As the US Navy expanded in the Island hopping campaign, Naval Base Darwin expanded to include a Port Darwin submarine base, PT boat Bases, and other facilities. US Navy operations started in 1942 and ended after the war in 1945.