74th anniversary of sinking commemorated

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Natalie Staples (author), ABIS Chantell Brown (photographer), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney

A banner stating the battle honours of HMAS Sydney is displayed during the 2015 HMAS Sydney II memorial held at Martin Place, Sydney.  (photo: ABIS Chantell Brown)
A banner stating the battle honours of HMAS Sydney is displayed during the 2015 HMAS Sydney II memorial held at Martin Place, Sydney.

The 645 sailors and officers who lost their lives when HMAS Sydney II was sunk by the German raider Kormoran in 1941 were commemorated at a ceremony at the Cenotaph Martin Place on 19 November.
 
Captain Guy Holthouse, a former Commanding Officer of HMAS Sydney IV addressed those gathered and said there has been no greater tragedy in the history of the Royal Australian Navy.
 
“The loss of Sydney came as a tremendous blow to the entire Australian nation, during a particularly dark period of the Second World War, with Japan entering the war in the Pacific around the same time,” Captain Holthouse said.
 
According to German accounts, on 19 November 1941, relatively close to Australia, about 130 miles off the Western Australian coast, Sydney encountered a vessel and closed to identify it. The vessel was, in fact, the German raider, Kormoran, disguised as a Dutch merchant ship. In the ensuing battle the ships destroyed each other. Sydney was last seen by the crew of Kormoran, on fire, and slowly heading in a south-easterly direction.
 
On 24 November, five days after the conflict, a passing tanker rescued stranded German seamen and this provided the first evidence for Australia that Sydney had been involved in an engagement.  No personnel were ever recovered and Sydney had not yet been positively located. The only objects recovered were a life float and life belt.
 
“Today is an opportunity to represent and respect the legacy of those brave men and boys who made the greatest sacrifice, for our family, 74 years ago," Captain Holthouse said.
 
Ships bearing the same name continue to honour this sacrifice and Sydney’s achievements prior to this event.
 
“Every sailor in the Royal Australian Navy salutes the mast of the first of our family member Sydney I when rounding Bradley’s Head in Sydney Harbour, in this beautiful city. 
"It will not be long before we are introduced to our next family member, the destroyer, HMAS Sydney V in 2019,” Captain Holthouse said.