HMAS Canberra : Casualty of Circumstance


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By Kathryn Spurling
Format Paperback / softback
Page Extent 256
Book Size 24 x 167 x 238 mm (H x W x D)
Imprint New Holland Publishers
Release Date 15/12/2016
Subject Classification Warfare & defence / Weapons & equipment / Military vehicles / Military & naval ships

This is the story of HMAS Canberra from from the time the ship was commissioned in 1928 to the last terrifying moments when HMAS Canberra’s fate was sealed.
Some may know the fate of HMAS Canberra on 9 August 1942 in a war-ravaged Pacific Ocean. World War II was in full force and it was about to overwhelm those  onboard the Australian Navy cruiser. But the events that lead to Canberra’s demise on that dark night are not so well known – until now. A tribute to the 84 men whose lives were lost, this book tells their stories and those of the men who survived – all share their motivations for joining the Navy and tell what it was like onboard.
If there were questions about the readiness of Australian warships for modern warfare, or about the power of the British Admiralty over Australian Royal Navy Officers, this book has the answers.
What was the role of the American fleet? Was there an international cover-up concerning friendly fire on that night?

Be informed about a significant event in our naval history. Be inspired by the stories of the men who served. But most of all, be prepared to be shocked.

Kathryn Spurling

Dr Kathryn Spurling served with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Her late father FO Maxwell Norris (RAAF) served with RAF Bomber Command during WWII. After securing her PhD in military history Dr Spurling tutored history and strategic studies and guest lectured in history at the University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra.In 2012 she was appointed a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University, Canberra and in 2014 became an Adjunct Visiting Research Associate with Flinders University. She has lectured extensively overseas on military issues.

Most significant: First Australian invited to speak at NATO HQ, Brussels, on women in the military; First Australian Summer Military History Fellow, United States Military Academy, West Point; Guest lecturer at the Dutch Defence College, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Keynote speaker at the Women’s Research and Education Institute ‘Women in Uniform Conference’, Washington DC, four times. Keynote speaker, Australian Women of the Year National Congress, Canberra. Keynote speaker ‘Women in the Australian Defence Force’, Chief of Defence Force Conference on Women in Security and the ADF. Speaker at Crime and Justice Challenges for the Contemporary Military Conference, Onati School of Sociology, Spain. Commemorative address, RAN Centenary Ceremony for the Loss of AE1 and crew, Rabaul, New Guinea.

Dr Spurling's media appearances have included features on ABC's The Drum; 4 Corners and Insight.

She has written ten books, including for New Holland Publishers:
  • Cruel Conflict: the triumph and tragedy of HMAS Perth I, New Holland, 2008. Launched by Minister for Defence onboard HMAS Perth III.
  •  A Grave too Far Away: A Tribute to Australians in Bomber Command Europe, New Holland, 2012.
  • HMAS Canberra: casualty of circumstance, New Holland, 2016.
  • Abandoned and Sacrificed: Rabaul, Lark Force and the Montevideo Maru, New Holland, 2017.
  • Upcoming - Fury To Hell, New Holland, 2022.