Lake Macquarie History

HMAS Sydney. November 1941

“During the action with the Cruiser [HMAS Sydney] he could see the men on the Cruiser’s aircraft shot to pieces before it could take off.” Summary of interrogation Albert Ruf, Komoran survivor picked up by the British tanker MV Trocas. Collection of the National Archives of Australia NAA.012.0380_RUF

photo: hmas sydney

In 1941 HMAS Sydney was carrying a Supermarine Walrus I and a 9 Squadron detachment from Rathmines when the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran was sighted off Carnarvon, Western Australia. Kormoran falsely signalled that she was a Dutch merchant vessel before hoisting the German ensign and uncovering her guns.

Aboard HMAS Sydney, the Walrus’ engine was running. The aircraft was ready to launch and investigate. The fifth salvo from Kormoran destroyed the aircraft and spread burning aviation fuel on Sydney’s decks.

The engagement crippled both vessels. HMAS Sydney sank with all 645 personnel including the detachment from Rathmines.

RAAF personnel aboard HMAS Sydney were not officially accepted to have been amongst those lost until June 1942. The wreck was not discovered until 2008.

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