Australian Naval History  – Book List

Author: Ian Pfennigwerth

Bravo Zulu Cover vol1

Bravo Zulu: Honours and Awards to Australian Naval People 1900-2014

Volume 1, 1900-1974 Now on Sale

Between 1900 and 2014 almost 4,000 Australian naval people received honours and awards for their efforts, courage, sacrifice and service to the nation. Whether earning a George Cross for defusing mines during the World War II ‘Blitz’ of the UK, an American Silver Star for flying helicopters into intense enemy fire in Vietnam, or a Conspicuous Service Medal for quietly ‘just getting the job done’, these are the stories of the men and women who have been recognised for their service to the Royal Australian Navy. Some give an insight into the daily running of our Navy. Others recalling inspiring feats of courage under fire or bravery in risking their own lives in saving others, on and off duty.

For the past seven years Ian Pfennigwerth and a team of dedicated volunteer researchers have explored the background of these honours and awards – Imperial, Australian, and foreign. The outcome is a book crafted so that even those with no knowledge of things naval will appreciate the significance of each award while becoming acquainted with the history of Australia’s naval forces – and enjoying a good read.

With intense relief and satisfaction, Ian can announce that the first part of telling these stories to the nation is about to happen.  Volume 1, covering the period 1900 to 1974 will be released this month. It is a book of almost 800 pages with 24 maps and 250 illustrations. It has a 74-page Index of the recipients of honours and awards, linking the text to the recipient. The book traces, through the recipients’ stories, the formation and development of the RAN, its fortunes during World War I, its resurrection from the depths of the Depression, and its fine fighting record during World War II. Post-war the stories tell of our Navy’s growth toward independence, the exploits of its men in Korea, Malaysia, Indonesian Confrontation and Vietnam, and its development of ships and weapons system like the famous Ikara anti-submarine missile.  There are also stories about the loss of Voyager and of spectacular feats in naval flying and diving.

Volume 1 comes in two editions; the hardcover retails for $75 and the paperback will sell at $65. Postage will be $13.00 for domestic purchasers. Overseas postage rates depend on the purchaser’s address. Deliveries will take place from this month ahead of the official launch of the book by the Chief of Navy in Canberra in October.

Work on preparing Volume 2, covering honours and awards to December 2014, is well underway with anticipated delivery in early 2017. When pricing has been confirmed, it will be offered at an attractive discount to those who wish to order early.


Hard Cover – $75 + Postage

Soft Cover – $65 + Postage

Under New Management - Naval History - Ian Pfennigwerth

Under New Management

To commemorate the start of World War 1, Ian Pfennigwerth has published Under New Management: The RAN and the Removal of Germany from the Pacific 1914-15. It traces the rise of German presence in the Pacific and Australia’s response to that, outlines the development of the RAN and RAN Reserve, and describes the events of 1914 in terms of the naval strategy that underlay that. It demonstrates that as Australia’s only formed and trained military force the RAN did all the heavy lifting in expelling the Germans. Only nine months old, our Fleet was the strongest British force in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Led by shrewd Vice Admiral George Patey RN, in 1914 the ‘Wallaby’ navy not only won its spurs but began the proud record of service that continues to this day.

Visit Barrallier Books Website

$25 + Postage

The australian cruiser perth - Naval History - Ian Pfennigwerth

The Australian Cruiser Perth

Involved in wartime operations for all but two months of her short but glorious career in the RAN, the ship and her gallant company fought in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and, finally in the Java Sea before being overwhelmed by a superior Japanese force in 1942. Half her men perished in the battle or died in the Japanese captivity that followed. Her remarkable legacy of conspicuous service in the thick of things lives on in her namesake ships.

‘I just did a phone interview for my lecture tomorrow on Sunda Strait with a bloke called David Manning. In 1941 he joined Perth and as a member of P2 4-inch gun’s crew, he we was detailed as a lookout above the 4-inch crew shelter during the Java Sea and Sunda Strait actions and saw all of it.

When discussing books on Perth, I asked him which the best was. Predictably, he noted Out of the Smoke by Ray Parkin as the best written about Perth’s crew and their experience during the actions. He then said that Carlton’s book was far too journalistic, but another by a bloke called Pfennigwerth was ‘…a vastly superior book’ and ‘the definitive account of the ship’. When I said that I knew you, he asked that I pass on his compliments regarding The Australian Cruiser Perth.

$25 + Postage

Teamed with In Good Hands – $40 + Postage

Australia Naval History - In Good Hands - Naval History - Ian Pfennigwerth

In Good Hands

Sam Stening was a Sydney paediatrician, called up as a naval reserve doctor in 1940, who served in several ships, including in the famous ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla’ of RAN destroyers in the Mediterranean. When his ship was sunk on the Tobruk Ferry run he joined the cruiser HMAS Perth. When this, too, went down off Java in 1942 he spent three and a half gruelling years as a PoW doctor in camps in Japan, for which he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross. Ill and embittered by his experiences, he nevertheless established a successful specialist practice, pioneering the treatment of children and especially the new-born, with the loving support of his wife.

What a well-told story! An easy and well-paced read. Your book brought thoughtful insights into Sam Stening’s life. It appears that In Good Hands was written very much with the readers in mind. Your book gives a pretty good picture of Sam and the contributions he made to the profession and his service to Australia, while at the same time giving just enough insight into his personal; ;life to elicit our admiration and respect for his achievements.

$25 + Postage

Teamed with The Australian Cruiser – $40 + Postage

Australian Naval History - A Man of Intelligence - Naval History - Ian Pfennigwerth

A Man of Intelligence

In an unlikely sequence of events, Eric Nave, a junior Australian naval officer, discovered he had an unmatched affinity for the Japanese language just as the British were beginning their attack on Imperial Japanese Navy codes. Within ten years, Eric was a Commander in the Royal Navy and an acknowledged expert in this difficult task. Just after penetrating the main Japanese Navy code used throughout the Pacific War in 1939, he was invalided to Australia and quickly built up this country’s capacities in codebreaking which were such an important, if largely unrecognised, contribution to the Allied cause in the eventual defeat of Japan and beyond.

Price $25 + Postage

RAN and General McArthur - Naval History - Ian Pfennigwerth

The RAN and General MacArthur 

After General Douglas MacArthur became Supreme Commander Southwest Pacific Area in 1942, amongst the forces now under his command was the RAN. There is no evidence that he held the service in any special regard but, despite this the ships, establishments, men and women of the RAN worked hard and effectively to ensure that he was able to deliver on his promise to the Philippines that ‘I shall return’. In naval battles and shore bombardments, air defence against the kamikaze menace, in charting the waters over which MacArthur’s ships must voyage, in the ceaseless escorting of vital convoys against attack by Japanese and German submarines, in amphibious assaults, in the interception of Japanese communications, and in the gallant actions of the RAN Coast Watchers, the RAN played a significant and valued role throughout the Pacific War. This book brings these disparate activities together in one account.

Price $25 + Postage


Tiger Territory

The end of World War II saw a gravely diminished and impoverished Britain attempting to reassert its authority in the Far East. Australian governments were, however, not prepared to leave issues of this nation’s defence in British hands after the debacle of Singapore in 1942. The result was a ‘Forward Defence’ policy which saw an unprecedented Australian military involvement in Southeast Asia. This book tells the story of the Australian Navy’s role in conflicts of confidence building measures in Malaya/Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia from 1950 to 1972 and its aftermath, from the Malayan Emergency to Indonesian Confrontation.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially the politics of the conflicts.  It also brought back memories and incidents I had forgotten.  I served on Barcoo until December 1963 when she paid off, we had Indonesian officers under training; we thought this a bit strange.  I also had two postings to Clearance Diving Team Two in 1966 and 1967 and we had Malayan divers under training.

Once again thanks for allowing me to relive an important part of my service career.  I won’t forget again.

Temporarily Unavailable

Note on Availability

Some of my books are reaching the end of their print runs, and are in short supply. This applies particularly to A Man of Intelligence, Tiger Territory and, to a lesser extent, to The RAN and General MacArthur. I’m negotiating with the publisher to try to move these books onto a ‘print-on-demand’ basis so that they do not go out of print, but we have not reached that agreement yet.