Tribute to lives lost on Sydney II

Geraldton Guardian

A commemorative service will be held today to honour the 645 lives lost when the HMAS Sydney II sunk in 1941.

The annual ceremony will mark 76 years since the ship sunk off the coast of Shark Bay and the loss of all hands in a battle with the German cruiser HSK Kormoran.

The service will be held at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial on Gummer Avenue.

HMAS Sydney II Memorial warden Don Rolston urged community members to attend the ceremony and pay their respects.

“I would certainly encourage those who haven’t been to a HMAS service before to join us,” he said.

“They would gain a great deal of knowledge on such an important event in Australia’s naval history and the service is full of emotion and gratitude.

“It pays appropriate tribute to those who made the extreme sacrifice, and this anniversary is all about remembering and honouring those people.”

The loss of the HMAS Sydney II is considered Australia’s worst naval tragedy.

While escorting troopships to Southeast Asia along the west coast in 1941, the Sydney encountered the Kormoran. on November 19.

As the Sydney approached the Kormoran, which was disguised as a Dutch merchant vessel, the Kormoran used the advantage of surprise and attacked.

While both ships sunk, 318 of the Kormoran’s 390 crew survived.

For years the final resting place of both the Sydney and the Kormoran was a mystery, until renewed efforts in 2008 discovered both wrecks about 100 nautical miles west of Shark Bay.

City of Greater Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn said it was important to commemorate the significant tragedy in Australia’s history.

“The battle plays a rich part not only in Geraldton’s history but in Australia’s history, and it is only fitting that we pay our respects,” he said. “Every year the event attracts hundreds of people who had ties with the HMAS Sydney II or those who want to remember the lives lost during the tragedy.”

During the ceremony Commander Milton Treeby will give the keynote address on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy and Naval Association of Australia State president Ian Holthouse.

The memorial carpark will be closed from 2pm to 8pm.

A free shuttle bus will transport people from the QEII Seniors and Community Centre to the memorial from 4pm.

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