Officers and Sailors of HMAS Stuart have gathered on the ship’s flight deck for a memorial service to remember the 725 lives lost in a battle on 19 November 1941. As Stuart passed near the final resting place of HMAS Sydney (II) and HSK Kormoran, members of ship’s company remembered the battle vividly described by historians as Australia’s greatest wartime loss and worst naval disaster.
The specifics and chronology of the sea battle in 1941 remain unknown, not only to the family and friends of the sailors of Sydney, but the entire nation. Leading the memorial, Chaplain Grant Ludlow explained, “Because the entire crew of 645 were lost from Sydney, the only accounts were those from Kormoran’s survivors.”
On 17 March 2008, the Australian government announced that the wreckages of Sydney and Kormoran had finally been found. The find helped bring some closure to the families who never knew for sure how their loved ones had died, and signified an end to one of the biggest mysteries for the Royal Australian Navy.
Knowing Stuart would be in the vicinity of the site, Leading Seaman Electronic Warfare Paul Winn proposed the memorial service be conducted to mark the occasion.
Leading Seaman Winn explained, “It’s important that we remember those who came before us. They, and their families, sacrificed so much for our country.”