TRAGIC IRONY IN VC HERO’S NOTES
CAMERON BAIRD WAS A SOLDIER’S SOLDIER, METICULOUS IN HIS PREPARATION FOR BATTLE, YET A DAMAGED, MALFUNCTIONING RIFLE COST HIM HIS LIFE IN AFGHANISTAN Renewed search for missing WWI sub
AUSTRALIA will launch the most expansive maritime search since the hunt for MH370 to solve a 103-year-old mystery and assure today’s Australian Defence Force ranks a grateful nation will do whatever it takes to try to bring their men and women home.
Defence Minister Marise Payne has agreed to part-fund the largest ever expedition to find the Australian submarine HMAS AE1 that disappeared without a trace off the Papua New Guinea coast in September 1914, just weeks after the outbreak of World War I.
Senator Payne was approached by private enterprise including a maritime archeology group led by Telstra chairman John Mullen and descendants of some of the 35 AE1 men on board when she disappeared, to commit to $500,000 to find the sub and bring closure.
Matched with private donations, the search mission will be the largest ever conducted by the Commonwealth in joint venture and be launched between next month and February 2018.
“HMAS AE1 is one of the world’s great maritime mysteries
EVERY day is Remembrance Day for the Bairds. In their Burleigh Waters home set in a quiet, leafy cul-de-sac, far from the harsh conditions in Afghanistan where their son died in 2013, Doug and Kay Baird – parents of Australia’s 100th Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal Cameron Baird – are reminded daily of a talented, football-mad boy who grew into focused, professional soldier. A replica of the Victoria Cross sits with his other medals, which include the Medal for Gallantry, awarded for going to the rescue of a member of his Commando team, Private Luke Worsley, who had been wounded and subsequently died. That incident happened 10 years ago this month. A crafted wooden pen and box set made from pine that had its origins at Gallipoli, and a special medallion presented to the family by the then-US ambassador, John Berry, are among the treasured mementos that remind the Bairds daily of a young man who gave his life for his country. Ever the careful professional, “Cam’’ Baird had a and this expedition will be one of the most comprehensive searches for the submarine,” Senator Payne said.
“We owe it to the men of AE1, their descendants and the entire navy community to continue to look for those who are forever on patrol.”
The Senator negotiated with the PNG government for access to their territorial waters. rushed into action in one of the last missions conducted by Australian special forces in the Khod Valley on June 22, 2013, pursuing Taliban fighters who were known to be itching to reclaim control of the region as soon as the Australians withdrew from the war.
Baird and his men were fighting their way through the streets of a village to reach a mate who had been shot and at risk of dying if he could not be evacuated within an hour.
But to reach him, they had to kill or be killed as a group of up to six Taliban fighters unleashed machinegun hell from a room in a building that was later found to be a virtual armoury.
In the gun battle that ensued – described by another soldier as “an epic shitfight’’ – Baird led the attack on the room in which the enemy fighters were barricaded.
But then his M4 rifle failed. The weapon he had spent countless hours cleaning and maintaining had done all he
Cameron Baird consults a map during Bravo Company’s final Afghan Rotation.
Submarine HMAS AE1 has been missing since 1914.