Naval tragedy

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Apr 11, 2005
South East Queensland
I thought I would post this story because I wasn't sure if many people were aware of the tragic loss of the HMAS Sydney. The sinking of the Sydney in WWII was, and still is, the worst naval disaster in Australian history.
The following is a short history about this event taken from

On November 19, 1941, the cruiser HMAS Sydney (eight 6 inch guns and eight 21 inch torpedo tubes), was commanded by Captain Joseph Burnett, RAN, and approximately 150 miles south-west of Carnarvon, W.A., and steaming on a southerly course to Fremantle, W.A.

About 5.30 p.m (WA time). she sighted a merchant vessel about 12 miles range. As the range closed Sydney tried to ascertain the stranger's identity. After confused signalling the other ship identified herself as the Dutch ship Straat Malakka. She was actually the disguised German raider Kormoran (six 5.9 inch guns and six 21 inch torpedo tubes).

When the HMAS Sydney ordered her to make her secret call sign, the German Captain, Commander Theodor Detmers, realised he could not bluff his way clear and had no alternative but to fight.

At 6.30 p.m (WA time)., Kormoran unmasked her guns and opened a devastating fire on the Australian cruiser, simultaneously hitting her with a torpedo.

The Sydney was soon ablaze with her forward turrets wrecked. However, her after guns returned a short but effective fire, hitting the Kormoran in the engine room and causing a fire that eventually was to prove fatal to the raider. Down by the bow, she turned as if to ram the German ship or to bring her starboard torpedo tubes to bear. She passed close astern of Kormoran and narrowly missed her with a salvo of torpedoes. All the time she was under fire from the raider's guns.

She limped off into the evening well ablaze and her glare could be distinguished until 11 p.m (WA time). after which only occasional flickerings could be seen and these had vanished by midnight. Meanwhile, Kormoran's crew had abandoned ship and the raider blew up at 1.30 a.m (WA time). Seventy-eight of Kormoran's complement of 393 were lost. The survivors were picked up by other ships or reached the West Australian coast.

None of Sydney's 645 men survived.

For more info and to see the memorial built to honor these men cheak out the website I printed above.
i wouldnt be suprised if some of the german crew were attacked by sharks.i wouldnt wish a shark attack on my worst enemy.
If none had survived from the Kormoran either the only record would have been a lost at sea note in a filing cabinet at least there fate and bravery is known.
Good on yer Aussies :salute:
Atleast the men of the Sydney took out their eventual killer.... Thats saying quite a bit about the bravery of the men onboard...


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Another naval disaster from World War 2 that is pratically forgotten is the sinking of SS Khedive Ismail taking British and West African troops to Burma. It was sunk on the 12th of February, 1944, by I-27. Out of 1,297 aboard only 260 survived.

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