At dusk on 30 August, amidst the rolling waves of the Indian Ocean, the crew of HMAS Sirus gathered on the flight deck to celebrate the life and service of Richard "Dick" Vincent Radcliffe, in the vicinity of the HMAS Sydney II wreckage.
Dick had an amazing 12 year career in the Navy serving on board HMA Ships Voyager I, Sydney II, Rockhampton, Napier, Nepal and Quickmatch. For his service, Dick was awarded the Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with clasp “Japan” and the Australian Defence Medal. Dick’s service in Nepal was recognised when he was awarded a Mention in Dispatches on 11 June 1946 for “Distinguished service during the war in the Far East whilst serving in Nepal”
Dick posted off Sydney II only a short time before her fateful battle with German HSK Kormoran on 19 November 1941, which resulted in the loss of her entire 645-strong compliment; representing the largest loss of life in the history of the RAN. Of note there are now only five ex-serving members of Sydney II still with us.
Commanding Officer of Sirius Commander Darren Grogan recalled that Sydney II sustained significant damage at the outset of battle, though the crew persisted in adverse conditions to sink Kormoran.
"In addition to prior victories achieved by Sydney II, reports of the battle from this day attest to the worthy and enduring reputation of Sydney II as one of Australia’s finest warships", he said.
In a Eulogy officiated over by Commander Grogan, the ship’s company stood attentive and mindful of Royal Australian Navy members and families, present and past.
As the sun set, Petty Officer Bosun Liam Apps had the honour of scattering the ashes into the sea in the presence of a solemn and respectful silence.
Following the ceremony, Able Seaman Bosun Stephanie Hourigan commented on how the service made her feel.
"It was remarkable to recognise the enduring connection Dick had with Sydney II and his shipmates, and fitting that he is laid to rest with them.
"It was a special moment, which made me proud to serve in the RAN", she said.
Following the conclusion of the ceremony, Sirius continued her passage en-route to India in company with HMAS Arunta, on the first leg of her North East Asian deployment, humbled by the memory of Sydney II, and in particular, the efforts of those who served in her.