HMAS Sydney II Memorial Dedication
The Memorial in Geraldton was dedicated on 18 November 2001, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the sinking where It overlooks the Indian Ocean where HMAS Sydney II was lost.
Premier, Geoff Gallop’s Statement:
The sinking of the HMAS Sydney was a mystery that had haunted Australians for 60 years, Premier Geoff Gallop said today.
“That battle remains the greatest single loss of life in Australian naval history,”
“To this day, that loss is felt not only by the friends and family of the crew, but also by the nation. In particular, the people of Western Australia feel that loss.
“Today is a historic occasion for Geraldton, WA and the nation. It is because of this community-driven initiative that the sacrifice of these men has finally been acknowledged in a memorial of national significance.”
The project to build the memorial was initiated by the Rotary Club of Geraldton in July 1998. The City of Geraldton, the Shire of Greenough, the Geraldton RSL, the Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association and the Mid-West Development Commission supported the rotary club.
The local community raised funds for the project with contributions from the Commonwealth, State and local governments. Local councils, local businesses, interested volunteers, work for the dole participants and inmates from the Greenough regional prison came together to help build the memorial.It is a credit to the tenacious spirit of the vibrant community of Geraldton that they were able to work together over several years to complete the memorial,” the Premier said.
The memorial at Mt Scott includes a domed roof of silver gulls, representing the souls of the 645 men who lost their lives. A black granite wall of remembrance bears the names of those men. An eternal flame symbolically keeps their spirits alive. The bronze figure of the waiting woman represents the families of all those who failed to return.
The HMAS Sydney II was launched in September 1934 and named after the HMAS Sydney which sank the Emden during World War I. It was involved in a number of major actions, including in July 1940, when she and three British destroyers engaged two Italian warships, sinking the cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni.
HMAS Sydney II returned home in 1941 and began operating chiefly in Australian waters. On November 19, 1941, while returning from convoy duty in Java, HMAS Sydney II was engaged by the German Armed Merchant Cruiser Kormoran, approximately 130 miles off the Western Australian coast, somewhere off Steep Point between Carnarvon and Geraldton.
Exactly what happened has never been discovered, but it is believed the Kormoran, posing as an unarmed Dutch merchantman, avoided replying to HMAS Sydney’s requests for identification and moved to about a mile from the Australian ship before opening fire. HMAS Sydney apparently suffered enormous damage and returned fire, damaging the Kormoran and forcing its crew to abandon ship. All of the 645-crew members on the HMAS Sydney were lost.
The loss accounted for more than 35 per cent of Royal Australian Navy servicemen killed in action between 1939 and 1945.
HMAS Sydney visited Geraldton on a number of occasions in her career, the last occasion less than four weeks before she was lost. The memorial will mark the 60th anniversary of her sinking. ” Dr Gallop said.
19th Nov 2001
Watch Video Be of the Dedication of The Memorial