Remembering the Battle for the Atlantic
Today Australia pays tribute to the more than 72,000 Allied naval and merchant mariners who lost their lives during the six-year Battle of the Atlantic.
The Battle of the Atlantic began with the sinking of the British passenger liner SS Athenia on 3 September 1939, and concluded with the surrender of Germany in May 1945. The battle was a crucial victory for the Allies during the Second World War.
Thousands of Australian service personnel and merchant mariners were involved in the battle, the longest military campaign of the Second World War. Royal Australian Navy vessels escorted convoys across the Atlantic, providing essential support to merchant vessels carrying troops, war materiel, food and fuel from North America and other parts of the globe to Britain.
For the Allies, victory at sea meant the millions of troops and vast amounts of materiel required for the invasion of Europe could be shipped to Britain in relative safety.
Some 3,500 Allied merchant ships and 175 warships were sunk and over 72,000 Allied naval and merchant mariners were lost.
We know the Atlantic Star was awarded to some 5,000 Australian service personnel and merchant mariners in recognition of their service in this decisive battle; however many others who served in this lengthy battle would also have been eligible for other honours and awards.
To learn more about Australians in the Second World War, visit the Anzac Portal.
(Image: The Queen Mary, a former Cunard liner requisitioned for wartime use as a troop ship by the Admiralty, steams alongside the Kent class cruiser HMAS Canberra.)