The Kormoran was also sunk, but 317 of its crew of 397 were rescued. [48][54] One analysis claims that this was either a warning shot just over the superstructure, or an attempt to destroy the raider's bridge as a prelude to capture. [90] Telegrams to next-of-kin, stating that their relatives were "missing as a result of enemy action" were lodged, although naval censors advised the media that no announcements relating to the cruiser be made. [170][269], Gill claimed that because Burnett had taken command of Sydney after a shore posting, and was assigned to relatively calm operational areas, he was incautious when approaching Kormoran. [87][88] These locations were all within the 180 km coastline boundary of an enormous sheep station. [138] In mid-September 2004, the German government granted Mearns permission to film Kormoran if she were found. Following the discovery of the wrecks, a second inquiry into the loss of Sydney was held, this time by the Department of Defence. [28] As the raider was carrying several hundred sea mines and was expected to deploy some of these before returning home in early 1942, Detmers planned to mine shipping routes near Cape Leeuwin and Fremantle, but postponed this after detecting wireless signals from a warship (Australian heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra) in the area. [112] Based on this, it was concluded that the true story was being given, and that there were no widespread attempts to falsify accounts. [234] However, the presence of all but two of the ship's boats in the nearby debris field, plus indications that the davits for the two missing boats were shot away during the battle, led Mearns to believe that evacuation was attempted after the bow snapped off, but there was not enough time or seaworthy boats to do so. [63] Kormoran maintained a high rate of fire despite being immobilised—some sailors claimed that up to 450 shells were used during the second phase of the battle—and scored hits on the cruiser, although many shells missed as the range increased. The German Raider "HSK Kormoran" sank HMAS Sydney II at a location about 290 kms south west of Carnarvon in Western Australia in November 1941. [191] There were also many deliberate hoaxes, some contributing to the controversies; the most damaging were claims that the wrecks had been located, hindering serious attempts to mount a search while military assets were used to check the sites. [233] Mearns estimated that once the bow was lost, the rest of the cruiser's hull would have remained afloat for, at most, two minutes, and anyone still remaining aboard would have been killed as the ship sank. [35] Communications were initially attempted with a signal lamp to repeatedly send "NNJ" ("You should make your signal letters"), but those aboard the raider did not understand the uncommonly used signal and did not respond. 2020 [63] Kormoran discontinued salvo firing, but the individually firing aft guns scored hits as Sydney crossed the raider's stern. How and why a purpose-built warship like Sydney was defeated by a modified merchant vessel like Kormoran was the subject of speculation, with numerous books on the subject, as well as two official reports by government inquiries, published in 1999 and 2009 respectively. 14 Squadron RAAF, based at RAAF Base Pearce, began to search for the ship on the morning of 24 November. [62] The cruiser was wreathed in smoke from fires burning in the engine room and forward superstructure, and around the aircraft catapult. In this foreword he provides a brief overview of books, reports and commissions of inquiry undertaken since publication of the first edition of this guide, The Sinking of HMAS Sydney. [92] Arriving in Carnarvon on the afternoon of 27 November, the Germans were relocated from the boats to Centaur's cargo holds, where they were joined by their colleagues which had reached shore and Australian Army guards. "What may the wreck of the Sydney reveal", published in Warship Vol 42; the RUSI Journal United Service in Feb 2008, and in the Australian Naval Institute's Headmark in Dec 2007, was the first battle-damage assessment of what the wreck of the Sydney – if it was found – would look like. It came across a German raider called the Kormoran that was in disguise, but loaded with guns and torpedoes. For almost seven decades, the final resting place of the Sydney and her crew remained unknown. [183][184] Frame's work was pro-RAN and supportive of Burnett, and while he dismissed many of the alternative claims made regarding the battle, he felt that those involving German duplicity were plausible. [48][56], Subsequent salvoes from the raider were more accurate. [285] By 2011, the stele had been completed, and a fifth element—a pool of remembrance containing a map of the region and the marked position of Sydney's wreck—had been added. [234][235] The Cole Report stated that Sydney's seakeeping ability would have rapidly deteriorated, hampering any evacuation efforts. [279] Despite the list of ships scheduled to be in the area, Cole believes that Burnett's previous experiences with inaccurate shipping lists caused him to think of Straat Malakka's unexplained presence as a clerical error. Identified is 23464 Able Seaman (AB) Martin Curtis James, of Newcastle, NSW, front table second from right, left side of table, second from table end. [51], At around 17:30, after the raider had failed to reply for 15 minutes, Sydney signalled by light "Show your secret sign"; Detmers knew that Kormoran was in trouble. According to German accounts—which were assessed as truthful and generally accurate by Australian interrogators during the war, as well as most subsequent analyses—Sydney approached so close to Kormoran that the Australian cruiser lost the advantages of heavier armour and superior gun range. Sydney sailed from Fremantle on Armistice Day, 11 November, 1941 to escort the troopship Zealandia to Sunda Strait where she was to be relieved by the British cruiser HMS Durban for the last leg of the voyage to Singapore. The Australian War Memorial acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia. While debris from Sydney was found, there were no survivors from the 645-strong complement. The voyage was without incident and at noon on the 17 November Zealandia was turned over to Durban and Sydney then proceeded back to Fremantle … On 16 November, Captain JA Collins, RAN returned to Sydney to relieve Captain Waller, RN as her Commanding Officer. [260][261][262], The inquiry recommended that the grave be found, the body exhumed, and its DNA compared to relatives of Sydney personnel. Accession Number: [131] WHOI staff did not believe that the search area could be sufficiently narrowed down—shipwreck hunter Robert Ballard commented that searching for the ships could not be described as a needle in a haystack, "because the haystack has not yet been found"—and the WHOI withdrew its support. [247], Olson lists two groups of sailors that could have been mistaken for pantrymen, but had a reason to be where Detmers saw them. [71] The rest of the ship sank shortly afterward, and glided upright for 500 metres (1,600 ft) underwater until it hit the seabed stern-first. Other sources state that 317 survived, including two Chinese. [124][125] This was due to the lack of a detailed location, a problem which was compounded by supporters of alternative engagement theories, who believed that the Germans were lying and that the ships would be found further south and closer to shore. HMAS SYDNEY (II) 19 NOVEMBER 1941. [255] A post-war RAN investigation determined that as the raft's description did not match those manufactured for the RAN, this claim was incorrect. She did not arrive as expected and the District Naval Officer, Western … [154][155] The two wrecks were 11.4 nautical miles (21.1 km; 13.1 mi) apart, with Sydney to the south-east. Evacuation began on 17 February with Japanese forces occupying the island on 23 March. One of the souls lost with Sydney II’s sinking was  Petty Officer Stoker Arthur John Richter. Just before 4.00 pm a warship was sighted and Commander Detmers turned the Kormoran west into the sun, … [83], Wireless signals to Sydney ceased, as it was assumed that if the cruiser had survived, battle damage or operational reasons prevented her reply. [145] Mearns focused on finding Kormoran first: the German wreck's approximate location could be predicted, and while the same was not true for Sydney, there was a wealth of information indicating her position relative to Kormoran. An official portrait of the ship's company, date unknown. [263] A 2001 search by the RAN failed to find the grave, but they were more successful during a second search in 2006. Would like to contact the HSK Kormoran Association re some Legal Liabilities they still have from the 19th and 20th November 1941. davidangwin@hotmail.com Would like to contact the Families of the IJN I 67 in Japan as well. Until 2008 none of the attempts to locate the Sydney had succeeded. [58] After the sixth German salvo, Sydney resumed fire with her aft turrets: "Y" turret fired less than four times with little effect, but multiple shots from "X" turret struck Kormoran, damaging the raider's machinery spaces, wounding the sailors manning one of the guns,[clarification needed] and starting a fire in an oil tank. The loss of HMAS Sydney almost without trace in November 1941, following an encounter with the German raider Kormoran off the Western Australian coast, remains one of the most intriguing mysteries of Australia's wartime history. [135], American shipwreck hunter David Mearns first learned of the battle and mutual destruction of Sydney and Kormoran during a conference in 1996, and started studying the battle in 2001. [200][201] The proximity meant that the advantage would go to the ship that fired first; while Burnett likely assumed that Sydney was dealing with a merchantman, Detmers was ready for Kormoran to surprise the cruiser, and the raider's gun crew knew where to aim for maximum effectiveness. [204], The 2009 Cole inquiry concluded that the German ensign was raised before the first shell was fired. [76][77] Warships were expected to maintain wireless silence unless absolutely necessary; none of these were sufficient reason to break silence and inform Fremantle of the delay. [63][68], Sydney was proceeding on a south-south-east bearing, apparently not under control. Both ships were destroyed in the half-hour engagement. [134] Subsequent examination of the most popular southern site by DOF Subsea Australia vessel SV Geosounder in March 2007 found no evidence of a shipwreck: the two searches firmly discrediting the alternative engagement area. [241] Other individuals or groups have made claims that they heard or witnessed the receipt of messages (either voice or morse) from Sydney, or saw transcripts of these messages. [143], Mearns' plan was to determine a 'search box' for Kormoran by plotting the possible starting points of the two rafts from the raider through a reverse drift analysis. It was the largest loss of life in the history of the Royal Australian Navy, the largest Allied warship lost with all hands during World War II, and a major blow to Australian wartime morale. [85] Six nearby merchant vessels (Pan Europe, Saidja, Herstein, Sunetta, Centaur, and Hermion) were instructed to pass through that location and keep a lookout for survivors or wreckage of either ship, while four RAN auxiliaries (HMAS Yandra, Heros, Olive Cam, and Wyrallah) sailed from Fremantle to search the area. [160] Six ROV dives were made over a five-day period, during which the main hull and debris field were inspected, filmed, and documented. In mid-March 2008 the Australian Government announced that the wreckages of both HMAS Sydney II and HSK Kormoran had been found, approximately 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, Western Australia. The Finding Sydney Foundation has been searching for the vessel in the hope of finding the location of HMAS Sydney, which was sunk following a battle off the WA coast in November 1941. [18] Renamed Kormoran, she was the largest and newest of nine[b] raiders, referred to as Hilfskreuzer (auxiliary cruisers) or Handelsstörkreuzer (trade disruption cruisers). The Sydney's entire crew of 645 went down with the ship in the Indian Ocean and its location has been a mystery for 66 years. [33][38] By 16:35, with Sydney 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) away, the malfunctioning engine aboard Kormoran was repaired, but Detmers chose to keep it in reserve. is reliant on assertions that had been proved false, unreliable sources (including a 'sailor's report' found to be a translation of an inaccurate Australian newspaper article), and selective use of German accounts that fit the hypothesis, and Montgomery is generally credited with igniting the controversy surrounding the battle. [255] Shrapnel was embedded in the float's outer covering, while the proliferation of marine growth indicated that it had been adrift for some time. It all started on 19 November, when Sydney crossed paths with HSK Kormoran, a German raider. [172] According to his book, Kormoran had fired on Sydney while flying the flag of a neutral nation, a Japanese submarine was involved in the battle, and any Australian survivors were killed to hide the involvement of the Japanese. Terrible was handed over to the RAN on 16 December 1948, and was commissioned at noon as HMAS Sydney. An insight into the Genesis and Evolution of the HMAS Sydney Controversy. [109] This was initially hampered, as the sailors had been ordered to obfuscate the enemy by falsely answering all questions. [137] Mearns's organisation entered a partnership with HMAS Sydney Search Pty. [135][192] One not only involved a claim to have located the wreck off Dirk Hartog Island, but it also referred to the location of a grave there.[193]. 1.1 The loss of HMAS Sydney1 in November 1941 was a tragedy on a number of levels. [202], The claim of Japanese involvement, specifically a submarine operating with Kormoran, is based on several elements. [119] Shortly after returning to the camp, Detmers was hospitalised for three months following a stroke. 75 years on, surveys from the oceans depths are beginning to unravel what happened that fateful day. 11 November: 1941: Opening of the Australian War Memorial: By the time a memorial to the dead of the First World War was ready to open, Australia had been involved in the Second World War for over two years. [126][127][128], The survey ship HMAS Moresby conducted multiple unsuccessful searches for Sydney and Kormoran between 1974 and 1991, when the ship was based in Fremantle. [256][259] The JCFADT inquiry concluded "on the balance of probability, that the body and the carley float ... were most likely from HMAS Sydney. On the afternoon of 19 November 1941 the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran (Commander Theodor Detmers) was steaming on a northeasterly course off the coast of Western Australia, approximately 150 miles south west of Carnarvon. [221] The JCFADT report concluded that there was no evidence to support the presence of the Japanese. HSK Kormoran found on 12 March 2008 . [114] The sailors were placed in No. The German Raider "HSK Kormoran" sank HMAS Sydney II at a location about 290 kms south west of Carnarvon in Western Australia in November 1941. [127][131], Following the 1999 government report into the Australian cruiser's loss, which recommended that a seminar be organised to again attempt to identify the most likely search area for the warships, the HMAS Sydney Location Seminar was organised by the RAN's Sea Power Centre and held at the Western Australian Maritime Museum. 1941 November 17 HMAS Sydney (II) turned Zealandia over to Durban for further escort to Singapore. 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