Parramatta service honours sacrifice

This article has photo gallery Published on SGT Dave Morley (author), ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez (photographer)

Location(s): Parramatta, New South Wales

Topic(s): HMAS Parramatta (F154), HMAS Parramatta (II)

Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Jasmine Smale folds the Australian White Ensign on the flight deck of HMAS Parramatta during a ceremonial sunset to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Parramatta II at Fleet Base East, Sydney.   (photo: ABIS Nicolas Gonzalez)
Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Jasmine Smale folds the Australian White Ensign on the flight deck of HMAS Parramatta during a ceremonial sunset to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Parramatta II at Fleet Base East, Sydney.

A service was held in Parramatta on 27 November to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the loss of the Grimsby-class sloop HMAS Parramatta II.

Parramatta's 
loss, along with 138 of her 162 crew, to the German submarine U559 off the coast of Tobruk, was largely overshadowed at the time by the loss of HMAS Sydney II the week before.

Commanding Officer HMAS Parramatta IV, Commander Simon Howard, said that while the story of the 'Rats of Tobruk' was well-known, accounts about those who supplied them were fewer.

“The actions of the Navy in protecting and supporting the convoys that were desperately trying to get supplies through to those besieged garrisons are less known,” Commander Howard said.

“We gather to mourn and venerate the men of Parramatta II, the 138 men who never returned, to 138 grieving families, and a nation left reeling."

“We must forever honour their memory and foster the ties that bind us to this day,” he said.

Commander Howard said Parramatta’s crew were men, mariners, officers and sailors – and they were Australians.

“Their stories and daily struggles resemble our own. They each had a family, dreams and hopes for the future, but their story stopped suddenly,” he said.

Honorary Secretary of the Parramatta Memorial Sub-Section of the Naval Association of Australia, Bruce Richens, served in the River-class frigate HMAS Parramatta III from 1976-77.

He said the memorial service was held annually to pay tribute to the men who served in Parramatta II and remembers those lost when the ship sunk on 27 November 1941.

“The service is attended by relatives of the crew, and the service along with the luncheon that follows allows the close-knit ‘Parramatta family’ to get together and support each other and remember the sacrifice of their loved ones."

“The relatives are appreciative the service is held, and some travel a great distance to attend. The Parramatta II sinking is just one of the many events and sacrifices that have helped shape our country and provide the freedom we enjoy today,” Commander Howard said.