Annual tribute moves online

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Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
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Paying their respects at a HMAS Sydney II memorial service.
Camera IconPaying their respects at a HMAS Sydney II memorial service. Credit: Matthew Woodley/The Geraldton Guardian

The HMAS Sydney II memorial service on Thursday week will be pre-recorded and delivered to the public online.

The 79th anniversary of Australia’s greatest naval tragedy, in which 645 men lost their lives when their ship sunk off the Geraldton coast, has a very different look because of COVID-19 crowd restrictions.

Only a handful of people will attend the “on-site” service in the early evening of November 19.

Commander Greg Swinden, of the Royal Australian Navy, will provide the main address and the chief officer of the HMAS Sydney V, Commander Edward Seymour, will be the guest speaker.

The wreath-laying service will be live streamed on the City of Greater Geraldton’s Facebook page and YouTube channel from 5.45pm.

About 7pm, a large blank cannon shot will be fired and multiple flares will be launched from the coast.

A heavy fog reduces visibility from the HMAS Sydney Memorial.
Camera IconA heavy fog reduces visibility from the HMAS Sydney Memorial. Credit: Liam Beatty/Geraldton Guardian

The City worked with the HMAS Sydney II Warden, Naval Association of Australia, RSL, the HMAS Sydney II Advisory Committee and other bodies to pre-record the service.

Mayor Shane Van Styn said it was “still extremely important for us to deliver this service as the tragic event played such a big part in our nation’s history”.

“I encourage the community to tune into the online broadcast,” Mr Van Styn said.

On Sunday, November 15, there will be a service for the Unknown Sailor at the Geraldton War Cemetery in Utakarra between 10am and 10.30am.

The annual gravesite service reflects and remembers the servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice for their country.

It is combined with the Pilgrimage to the Cemetery.

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