Wednesday, November 19, 2008

67th Anniversary of the Sinking of HMAS Sydney

A memorial service was held at the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane city this morning to mark the 67th anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Sydney in World War II. I was able to take some photos. All photos can be clicked on for a larger image.

HMAS Sydney was sunk on 19 November 1941 with the loss of all 645 hands, which represented the greatest loss of life in an Australian warship, and the largest Allied vessel to sink with all hands during the war.

At about 4.00pm on 19 November 1941, off the West Australian coast, the Sydney sighted and challenged what was initially thought to be a merchant ship. The merchant ship was actually the German merchant raider Kormoran disguised and sailing under a false flag. The Sydney closed to within about 1000 metres when the Kormoran surprised her by opening fire at point-blank range with concealed artillery and torpedoes.

The Kormoran was also badly damaged in the exchange and had to be scuttled by the crew. German survivors reported last seeing the Sydney on fire as she disappeared over the horizon. The fate of HMAS Sydney and her 645 crew has been a mystery for over 60 years. It was only on 16 March 2008 that the wreck was finally discovered.

The wreck of the Sydney will be treated as a war grave and protected under the 1976 Historic Shipwrecks Act.

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