I wasn't sure if to post this in this existing thread or make a new one, but i posted here so thats that out of the way...
As you guys/girls might have heard, the HMAS Sydney has been found.
Before i begin, i would like to refresh everyones memories...
On November the 19th, 1941 the HMAS Sydney II was on her way back to Fremantle, when at around 5:30pm, she encounted a merchant vessel off the coast
of Western Australia, some 150 miles south-west of Carnarvon.
The Captain of HMAS Sydney, Joseph Burnett, sent a signal to the merchant vessel, requesting that the vessel identify herself. The merchant vessel
signaled back to the HMAS Sydney that it was the Dutch Freighter, the Straat Malakka. The Captain of the HMAS Sydney then requested that the vessel
identify itself by making her secret sign call. Unable to keep up the bluff, the vessel hoisted the German Ensign, revealing its true identity. Under
Camouflage, the ship was in fact the German Raider HSK Kormoran. The Kormoran was on its way to lay a minefield in the waters off the coast of Perth.
Unfortunately for the Sydney, it had moved into a vulnerable position whilst making communication with the Kormoran and was immediately fired upon.
The Sydney was struck by a torpedo within seconds, destroying her forward turrets. By 6.30pm the battle was well and truly on. The Sydney retaliated
by opening fire on the Raider. The Kormoran was hit in the engine room, starting a fire which spread quickly.
HMAS Sydney, having received about fifty hits from the Kormoran’s six 15cm guns, 3.7cm anti-tank weapons , 20mm cannon and machinegun fire, was
ablaze but continued to fight on gallantly.
When Captain Burnett realised that the Sydney was in serious trouble, he retreated (though some say drifted). By many accounts from locals, who had
seen the fire on the horizon, they recalled it “glowed for hours” before the light just simply faded away. The HMAS Sydney and all 645 souls on
board disappeared without trace, leaving behind one of Australia’s greatest maritime mysteries.
So what happened to the Kormoran ? With both ships seriously disabled, The Kormoran, under command of German Captain, Commander Theodor Detmers,
ordered his crew to abandon ship. Fearing that the Sydney had sent distress signals to other ships in the area, he also ordered the Kormoran to be
scuttled (blown up). The crew placed explosive charges around the ship, which was carrying over 300 sea mines, and as they rowed away from the vessel,
the explosives were detonated and the ship sunk. Seventy eight men from the German crew of 397, perished in the battle. The survivors were either
picked up by other ships or rowed ashore in lifeboats. Many were found along the coastline. All the survivors would spend the rest of the war in POW
camps throughout Australia. Not even Commander Theodor Detmers could shed light on the fate on the Sydney, despite being interrogated on numerous
occasions. His story never changed nor did that of the surviving members of his crew.
The HMAS Sydney was found on the 16 March 2008, As well as the HSK Kormoran.
Rumour, Speculation and Conspiracy Theories
For many years there has been rumour, speculation and conspiracy theories about the fate of the Sydney. Some believe that it was blown up by the
Germans and the survivors murdered (as many didn't believe the accounts made by the German survivors). Some believe that the Sydney was sunk by a
Japanese submarine and the crew subsequently murdered. Others even claim the HMAS Sydney was not destroyed at all, but captured and the crew murdered.
Glenys McDonald a woman who has researched the Sydney for years suggests a cover-up. Stories of unanswered distress signals, debris and unidentified
bodies washing up on the beach have all been hushed up by authorities suggesting there was more to it more than what they were telling the public.
Some believe the cover up by authorities was due to the fear that such a tragedy would destroy the Nations moral. In October 2006, the body of the
unknown sailor was exhumed from Christmas Island for forensic examination. The body was officially identified as one of the crew of the Sydney (though
no name has been released). The forensic team at the Sydney University were given the task of examining the remains and discovered a metal object
lodged in the skull of the sailor. They identified the object as a bullet from a low muzzle-velocity weapon, such as a hand gun, leading to more
speculation. However, in December, the object was confirmed to be a piece of shrapnel from a German shell and not a bullet as first thought. This has
again raised more doubts about the version of events believed to have happened on that fateful night. It seems unlikely that a mortally wounded man
could have made it into a float while the Sydney was still moving. The focus is now moving to Hans Linke (the Kormoran’s wireless operator), who
made claims in 1996 to The Australian newspaper, that both ships were virtually stationary when the Kormoran fired an underwater torpedo at the
Sydney, making her virtually disabling instantly. Under this scenario it would make sense that the ship was abandoned and the men took to the Carley
floats. It would have been in one of the floats that the unknown sailor received the fatal shrapnel wound. This scenario does little to resolve to
whereabouts of the HMAS Sydney.
Anyway, now that the two ships have been found, it still drives me crazy that all 645 sailors of the HMAS Sydney died...
I have seen recent pictures/videos on Finding Sydney
showing the lifeboats on the ocean floor
alongside the HMAS Sydney, indicates that the sailors didn't even have time to get to them.. The HKS Kormoran was really accurate with there firing,
and must have overwhelmed the HMAS Sydney...
If you guys are interested, you should check out this Website...
I guess that is the uncertiny of war...
May the 645 Souls of the HMAS Sydney now Rest In Peace.