Lost sailors remembered at annual memorial

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author), LSIS Bradley Darvill (photographer)

Location(s): Augusta, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling

Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling, Captain Brian Delamont, RAN, gives a brief history of the N-Class Destroyers during the HMAS Nizam 73rd anniversary memorial service at Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia. (photo: LSIS Bradley Darvill)
Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling, Captain Brian Delamont, RAN, gives a brief history of the N-Class Destroyers during the HMAS Nizam 73rd anniversary memorial service at Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia.

Sailors lost at sea from an N-Class destroyer have been remembered in an commemoration in Augusta, Western Australia.

HMAS Stirling Commanding Officer Captain Brian Delamont said it was a significant part of Royal Australian Navy history when gave the keynote speech at the annual N-Class Destroyer Memorial.

The N-Class destroyer squadron, raised during the early years of WWII, consisted of five ships which were loaned to the RAN by the Royal Navy.

They served with distinction in various theatres of war across the globe.

In February, 1945 HMAS Nizam experienced tragedy when a freak wave struck the ship off Cape Leeuwin, Western Australia as the ship was making her way to Fremantle.

Ten sailors were swept overboard as the ship rolled heavily and their bodies were never recovered.

Since then, former N-Class destroyer officers, sailors and their families have gathered at Augusta, near Cape Leeuwin, to remember their shipmates.

Speaking at the 2018 memorial, Captain Delamont said it was fitting that the officers and sailors of N-Class destroyers should be remembered in such a formal fashion.

He referred to a mission assigned to HMAS Norman in 1941 when the vessel became the only Royal Australian Navy ship to operate in Russian waters during WWII.

“I think this serves as a great example of how the crews completed the most demanding of missions and survived terrible conditions,” Captain Delamont said.

The task in question involved transporting a number of British trade unionists from Scotland to Russia as part of an Anglo-Soviet Trade Union Council.

Battling mountainous seas and freezing conditions, Norman, under the command of Commander Henry Burrell, completed the almost 5000-nautical mile round trip without a single loss of life.

Captain Delamont said Norman’s successful Arctic voyage became part of our national and naval heritage.

“It sets the standard for today’s Navy,” he said.

Following the cessation of hostilities, the remaining four destroyers ships were handed back to the Royal Navy.

The five N-Class Destroyers of the RAN were Napier, Nizam, Nepal, Nestor and Norman. Unfortunately, HMAS Nestor was lost in June, 1942 after an engagement with enemy aircraft off the coast of Crete.

Additional imagery is available at the Navy Image Gallery: http://images.navy.gov.au/S20180196