Tom Lewis (author)

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Thomas Anthony Lewis
Born 1958
Nationality  Australia
Occupation Military Historian and Author

Dr Thomas Anthony "Tom" Lewis, OAM (born 1958) is an Australian author, military historian, editor, and former naval officer. An author since 1989, Lewis worked as a high school teacher, and served as naval officer for 20 years, seeing active service in Baghdad during the Iraq war, and working in East Timor.

After reconstituting the Royal Australian Naval College Historical Collection – with which his Order of Australia is largely connected – Lewis was the Director of the Darwin Military Museum from 2009 until April 2014, when he took up full-time research on several World War I and II projects. Amongst these are his role as Lead Historian and Creative Designer for The Borella Ride, the re-enactment of the journey of Albert Borella VC to sign up for military service in 1915.

Dr Lewis is now Lead Historian for The Territory Remembers, a project of the Northern Territory Government to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first attacks on Australia during the Second World War.

Lewis is the author of 12 books, all of which are works of military history except for one which charts the Tasman Bridge disaster – he was raised largely in Tasmania, although born in London. He was the editor of Headmark, the Journal of the Australian Naval Institute, from 2005 until 2016. His most recent works are Carrier Attack (Avonmore Books), which is a forensic examination of the air raids of 19 February 1942 on Darwin. and Honour Denied – Teddy Sheean, A Tasmanian Hero (Avonmore Books), which was launched in Hobart on 31 May 2016 by the Tasmanian Premier.

In late 2013 Lewis was elected to the Chairmanship of the Order of Australia Association (NT) for a three-year term. In 2015 he was appointed the Chairman of the Northern Territory Place Names Committee for three years.

Dr Lewis is currently working on The Empire Strikes South, a history of the Japanese aircrews who were lost over northern Australia in World War II. This book will be released in February 2017.

In June 2003, Lewis was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for meritorious service to the Royal Australian Navy, particularly in the promotion of Australian naval history.[1][2]

Academic qualifications[edit]

Lewis holds the qualifications of Doctorate of Philosophy (Charles Darwin University 2004); Master of Arts (University of Queensland 1993); Diploma of Education (University of Tasmania 1984); and Bachelor of Arts (University of Tasmania 1983).


  • Darwin Sayonara, Boolarong, 1991 – children's novel centred on the events of WWII in Darwin, Australia, 1942.
  • Wrecks in Darwin Waters, Turton and Armstrong, 1991 – details the ship and aircraft wrecks, many from attacks in WWII and Cyclone Tracy in 1974, that may be found in waters near Darwin, Australia.
  • Sensuikan I-124, Tall Stories, 1997 – dealing with the sinking of IJN submarine I-124 by HMAS Deloraine.[3]
  • A War at Home, Tall Stories, 1999 – about the Japanese attacks on Darwin on 19 February 1942.[4][5]
  • By Derwent Divided, Tall Stories, 2001 – tells the story of the Tasman Bridge disaster in the state of Tasmania, and the subsequent maritime events.[6]
  • Australian Naval Leaders. A study of nine naval officers of the Royal Australian Navy, with analysis of their careers and effectiveness. RAN College, 2006.
  • 10 Shipwrecks of the Northern Territory. (Co-author, Edited by Paul Clark). Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, 2008.
  • Captain Hec Waller – a Memorial Book. (Co-author, Edited by John Waller). Drawquick Printing, 2008.
  • Zero Hour in Broome. Avonmore Books, South Australia, 2010. Analyses the second biggest air raid, in terms of fatalities, ever made on Australia.
  • Darwin's Submarine I-124. Avonmore Books, South Australia, 2011. A study of the combat action of 20 January 1942 which sent this 80-man submarine to the seabed, where it remains intact outside Darwin today.
  • The Submarine Six. Avonmore Books, South Australia, 2012. Biographies of the six men after whom the Collins-class submarines were named: Robert Rankin, John Collins, Emile Dechaineux, Hec Waller, Teddy Sheean, and Hal Farncomb.
  • Lethality in Combat. BigSky Publishing, Australia, 2012. A study of the reality of battlefield behaviour, across six wars. Examines battle enthusiasm, prisoner-taking, and actions against civilians as combatants, and shows the reality if far more grim than usually understood.
  • Carrier Attack. Avonmore Books, South Australia, 2013. A forensic study of the first air raid against Australia, which took place on 19 February 1942. With many appendices disproving many of the myths of the raid.
  • 'Honour Denied – Teddy Sheean, A Tasmanian Hero. Avonmore Books, South Australia, 2016. A study of the last fight of HMAS Armidale, and the action taken by Teddy Sheean which many argue should have been rewarded with a Victoria Cross.


  • Headmark – Journal of the Australian Naval Institute – 2005–2016.
  • Officer of the Deck, Kriloff, Herb (author), Adelaide: Avonmore Books, 2012.
  • Journal of the Arms Collectors Association of the Northern Territory, 2014-present.


  • Albany's ANZAC Convoys, Cunnington, Roger, (author), Albany: Western Australia Digger Press, 2014.

Select articles[edit]

  • “Aussie heroes of the world wars deserve long-awaited recognition" Hobart Mercury, Aug 2016
  • “Time to rectify injustice to war heroes." Launceston Examiner, Aug 2016.
  • “Not shunned by the Navy: the strange story of HMAS Armidale’s Lieutenant Commander David Richards". RUSI Journal; Australian Naval Institute website; Gunplot website – mid-2016.
  • "10 facts you didn’t know about Anzac Day". Over60 magazine. April 2016.
  • "What aircraft carrier is that? LHDs on display." Australian Naval Institute website. April 2016.
  • Numerous articles on Albert Borella VC, and the Borella Ride
  • “Why MH370 will likely never be found." Australian Naval Institute. June 2014.
  • “The Myth of Government Cover-up in the first Darwin Raids." 2014 NT Literary Award Winner in the Charles Darwin University Essay Category
  • “Anzac spirit must not be cheapened." Hobart Mercury, 8 May 2014
  • “A Baghdad Tea Ceremony." Under the Queens Colours. Penny Legg. Spellmount, 2012.
  • “Which Fairmile is that?" Northern Territory Historical Studies, No. 24, 2013: 62–73
  • “Our Afghan war dead have not died in vain.” RUSI Journal United Service Sep 2013
  • “Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine option.” RUSI Journal United Service Feb 2013
  • Maritimea Encyclopedia – 12 articles including: histories of the sinking of the Titanic; Battles of Leyte Gulf; Trafalgar, Coral Sea etc.; sinking of HMAS Sydney; the Falklands War; ship development through the ages, 2012
  • "Naval Intelligence and the ADF." Headmark – Dec 2009
  • "Naval Leaders: Vice Admiral Creswell." Headmark, September 2010
  • " John Collins and HMAS Sydney in 1940." Wartime – the magazine of the Australian War Memorial.
  • "Land-based aircraft for warship protection?" Headmark magazine. Issue 129, September-2008.
  • "The truth about Sydney – conspiracy theorists should crawl back into the bilges." Wartime magazine, Issue 45, mid-2008.
  • "What has the wreck of the Sydney told us?" Warship magazine. Issue 44, mid-2008.
  • "Needles and Haystacks – Why finding the wreck of the Sydney was so difficult." Wartime magazine, Issue 43, mid-2008.
  • "What may the wreck of the Sydney reveal." – Warship Vol 42, RUSI Journal United Service Feb 2008, Headmark Dec 2007.
  • "The Importance of Audience Perception in Communications from the Maritime Battlespace Environment of the Future – King-Hall History Conference, July 2007
  • "Military History this week" – 54 articles within Victory Times – Iraq Coalition Troops newspaper, June–December 2006
  • Media implications from the Gulf War. Army Journal. June 2006
  • Heroes of the Navy – Rear Admiral Sir David Martin – Warship magazine, Dec 2006
  • "Lethality in Tactical Air Combat – a study of the image and the reality of fighter combat, and some consideration of the ethics involved". ADF Journal No. 167, 2005
  • "The Myth of Land-Based Aircraft for Naval Defence." Paper presented at the 2005 King-Hall Naval History Conference
  • "Unsung Heroes of the Royal Australian Navy." Paper presented at the International Conference of Historical Sciences, July 2005.
  • "Infantry Lethality in Vietnam: My Lai was Inevitable, and not alone." Paper presented at The Legacy of the Vietnam War Conference, University of Newcastle, April 2005
  • Encyclopedia of Maritime History – Oxford University Press – "Naval Wages". 2005
  • The Canberra Times – book reviews: July 2004 – October 2006
  • "The Navy’s Finest Fighting Leader – Captain ‘Hec’ Waller, DSC" – The Journal of Australian Naval History, October 2004
  • "Australia's Airpower at Sea – a new proposal for a flexible and mobile force" – winner of the 2003 Naval Officers’ Club Essay Competition. Published in the Australian Army Journal, November 2004. Also published in March 2005 in United Service – the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute.
  • "Naval Interdiction in the North – Haphazard and Hazardous" – Paper presented at the 2003 King-Hall Naval History Conference
  • “Myths concerning the number of deaths in the first Japanese attacks on Darwin in February 1942” – Wartime magazine, May 2003
  • “Wreck Finding – Dreams and Reality: the true nature of finding the wrecks of HMAS Sydney and the Kormoran”. Australian Sea Heritage. Winter 2003
  • “Deterrence, Capacity and Skill Retention: some thoughts on the acquisition or removal of platforms within the ADF” – ADF Journal – July 2002
  • “What do the Public Think? – about the effectiveness of Australia’s Offshore Surveillance and Interdiction Effort” – Maritime Studies – June 2002


  • Australia's Secret Submarine – Darwin Military Museum, 2012
  • The Bombing of Darwin – Artemis Productions, 2012
  • An Anti-Aircraft Gunner Remembers – Darwin Military Museum, 2010
  • Neil Oliver's "Coast Australia – Great Southern Film & Television, (Darwin episode), 2013
  • Sir Tony Robinson's Tour of Duty, 2015
  • Borella VC – Outback Journey (Working title), in production.

Literary awards[edit]

  • Jessie Litchfield Literary Competition 1992 – Highly Commended for novel Darwin Sayonara
  • Kath Manzie Memorial Prize runner-up for "The Navy and Cyclone Tracy" – 1994 NT Literary Awards
  • Kath Manzie Memorial Prize for "The Navy in Darwin in WWII" – 1995 NT Literary Awards
  • Recipient of NT History Award for travel to Japan to research the WWII Imperial Japanese Fleet submarine I-124 – 1995
  • Kath Manzie Memorial Prize for "The Finding of the Wreck of the Rachel Cohen in Darwin Harbour" in the 1997 NT Literary Awards
  • NT University Open Essay Prize for "Which Fairmile is that?" in the NT Literary Awards 1998
  • NT Literary Awards 1998 – Highly Commended Essay: "First Contact: a brief analysis of the strategic implications of the Imperial Japanese Navy Sixth Submarine Squadron's deployment in northern Australian waters in 1942". (Subsequently, published by the Naval History Association.)
  • Naval Officers Club National Essay Competition – 1st Place winner – "The importance of teaching naval history within the Royal Australian Navy" – 2001
  • Naval Officers Club National Essay Competition – 1st Place winner – "Australia's Airpower at Sea – a proposal for a flexible and mobile force" – 2003
  • Charles Darwin Essay Prize, for "The Myth of Government Cover-Up in the 1942 raids on Darwin" in the NT Literary Awards 2014
  • Shortlisted in the NT Chief Minister's History Book of the Year 2014, for Carrier Attack
  • Recipient of NT History Award for travel to Japan to research Japanese aircrews who died across the Top End in WWII' – 2015


  1. ^ It's an Honour – Honours – Search Australian Honours
  2. ^ "Talk with Dr. Tom Lewis OAM" (PDF). Northern Territory Library. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-22. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  3. ^ David M. Stevens. "Japanese submarine operations against Australia 1942–1944". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  4. ^ "Quarterly Newsletter" (PDF). The Australian Association for Maritime History, March 2000.
  5. ^ A War at Home
  6. ^ Lewis, Tom (September–October 2002). "Deterrence, Capacity and Skill Retention" (pdf). Australian Defence Force Journal (156). ISSN 1320-2545. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 

External links[edit]