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Wednesday, 19 May 1915

Mr JENSEN (Bass) (Assistant Minister of Defence) .- I ask permission to make a statement.

Leave granted.

Mr JENSEN - I regret very much, sir, that I have to make a statement in connexion with submarine AE2. The following cablegram, relating to the reported loss of the submarine and the capture of her crew, was received from the Admiralty to-day: -

No communications having been received from submarine A E2 since 26th April, her loss must be presumed. From a report received through diplomatic channels at Athens, it would appear that three officers and seventeen men were taken prisoners out of the total of three officers and twenty-nine men. Every effort is being made to ascertain further particulars of the survivors.

Board of Admiralty desire to record their deep regret at the loss of this vessel with so many of her gallant crew, after a memorable feat of arms, and congratulate the Commonwealth on the high qualities of their officers and seamen.

Directly news is received by the Minister of Defence as to the condition of the members of the crew who were known to be on board, the next of kin will be at once communicated with. We all deplore the loss of the submarine AE2 and those on board of her. We feel that they have not been wanting in daring feats. There is no doubt that they have risked their lives in the Dardanelles and performed good work. It must not be forgotten that since their arrival in Australia, the two submarines AE1 and AE2 have travelled thousands and thousands of miles - a feat practically unknown in submarine warfare. Submarine AE2 was recently up at Rabaul. I was on board of . her when she returned to Sydney, and conversed with the captain and the crew, who told me of all their dangers while at New Guinea and off the coast of Australia. It appeared to me from the information I then received that the feats which they performed were marvellous. Considering the hardships which the men had to endure on such a small vessel, it was simply astounding that they were able to perform their arduous duties under such conditions. The space where thirty-odd men had to live was hardly as large as a room in an ordinary house. It is something terrible to endure the heat and the air in such vessels. Our hearts go out in sympathy to every one of the relatives of those who were on board of the submarine AE2, because of the loss they have suffered. We trust that at least the three officers and seventeen men who were taken prisoners may be yet alive ; it is possible that they are. There is no doubt that the feat of this submarine in getting through the Dardanelles into the

Sea of Marmora was a very daring one. If it should prove that they have been lost in that sea, we at least recognise their good qualities and daring action in the interest of the Empire.

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