Memorial to the men of the HMAS Sydney
In memory of, and to honour the men of the HMAS Sydney
. To bring a measure of closure to their families and to comfort them in the knowledge that they are not alone in their grief, and that the whole nation grieves with them.
This memorial is located on Mount Scott, Geraldton in Western Australia overlooking the City and the Indian Ocean. The same ocean where HMAS Sydney
fought its last battle and was sunk with the loss of all 645 men.
On November 19, 1941, the cruiser HMAS Sydney
(eight 6 inch guns and eight 21 inch torpedo tubes), was commanded by Captain Joseph Burnett, RAN, and approximately 150 miles south-west of Carnarvon, W.A., and steaming on a southerly course to Fremantle, W.A.
About 5.30 p.m (WA time). she sighted a merchant vessel about 12 miles range. As the range closed Sydney
tried to ascertain the stranger’s identity. After confused signalling the other ship identified herself as the Dutch ship Straat Malakka. She was actually the disguised German raider Kormoran (six 5.9 inch guns and six 21 inch torpedo tubes).
When the HMAS Sydney
ordered her to make her secret call sign, the German Captain, Commander Theodor Detmers, realised he could not bluff his way clear and had no alternative but to fight.
At 6.30 p.m (WA time)., Kormoran unmasked her guns and opened a devastating fire on the Australian cruiser, simultaneously hitting her with a torpedo.
was soon ablaze with her forward turrets wrecked. However, her after guns returned a short but effective fire, hitting the Kormoran in the engine room and causing a fire that eventually was to prove fatal to the raider. Down by the bow, she turned as if to ram the German ship or to bring her starboard torpedo tubes to bear. She passed close astern of Kormoran and narrowly missed her with a salvo of torpedoes. All the time she was under fire from the raider’s guns.
She limped off into the evening well ablaze and her glare could be distinguished until 11 p.m (WA time). after which only occasional flickerings could be seen and these had vanished by midnight. Meanwhile, Kormoran’s crew had abandoned ship and the raider blew up at 1.30 a.m (WA time). Seventy-eight of Kormoran’s complement of 393 were lost. The survivors were picked up by other ships or reached the West Australian coast.
None of Sydney
’s 645 men survived.
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