HMAS Anzac’s tribute to HMAS Sydney (II)

This article has photo gallery Published on ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (author and photographer)

Topic(s): HMAS Anzac (F150), HMAS Sydney (II), Memorial Service

HMAS Anzac held a memorial service for HMAS Sydney (II) during a South East Asia Deployment, ship's company paid their respects with a one minute silence. (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
HMAS Anzac held a memorial service for HMAS Sydney (II) during a South East Asia Deployment, ship's company paid their respects with a one minute silence.

A memorial ceremony was held onboard HMAS Anzac on 5 April near the resting place of HMAS Sydney (II) in the Indian Ocean to commemorate the tragic loss of the ship with all hands 75 years ago.

The sinking of Sydney remains Australia’s greatest naval tragedy with her fate being confirmed in March 2008 after decades of uncertainty behind her final hours.

Petty Officer Maritime Logistics - Chef Jeremy Bowman is currently serving in Anzac and has served onboard HMAS Sydney (IV). He took part in the ceremony; laying a wreath at sea to commemorate those lost.

“HMAS Sydney (IV) was the first ship I served in as a Seaman, It was a great honour and I have so much respect for the personnel who served in HMAS Sydney (II),” he said.

“I have a relative who served in HMAS Warramunga (I), I couldn’t have imagined how tough the conditions were for the personnel serving back in those days.

“The modern Navy is different now in comparison to when men served in HMAS Sydney (II).”

The ship’s company of HMAS Anzac conducted a ‘clear lower deck’ for a memorial service to honour the 645 men lost with the ship. Able Seaman Maritime Logistics - Chef Kathryn Brenton sang the Australian National Anthem during the ceremony.

“I studied music before I joined the Navy and I really felt honoured to sing the anthem in front of my ship mates near the resting place,” she said.

In 1934, Sydney (II), a modified Leander class light cruiser, was launched and tasked to conduct escort and patrol duties in Australian waters. In 1941, after celebrating her successful battles in the Mediterranean, she was tasked to escort troopships to South East Asia via the Indian Ocean.

En route, on 19 November 1941, she encountered what appeared to be a Dutch merchant vessel who failed to reply to Sydney’s interrogation signals, after which Sydney decided to approach the unknown vessel.

The unknown vessel was German raider HSK Kormoran, and once Sydney had closed within the Kormoran’s range, Sydney’s superior armament could not sufficiently defend herself which was much to the advantage of the Kormoran. The Kormoran brought all it could bear on Sydney.

Sydney fiercely battled the German Raider HSK Kormoran which struck Sydney’s forward turrets, and after a long battle between both ships Sydney’s damage was so severe she sunk with her total complement about 100 miles off the coast of Australia.

The Kormoran, also severely damaged, sunk soon after Sydney; however she managed to save 318 of her total 390 personnel onboard.

HMAS Anzac and her crew of 184 personnel are deployed to South-East Asia to participate in a number of exercises and activities including Exercises KOMODO and BERSAMA SHIELD, and the Indonesian Fleet Review.