HMAS Sydney II service marks 78 years

Published: Wednesday, 6 November 2019 at 5:29:23 PM

This year marks 78 years since the sinking of the HMAS Sydney II and the legacy of Australia’s greatest naval tragedy will be remembered with a commemorative service.

Hundreds will attend the service on Tuesday 19 November which pays homage to the 645 crew members who lost their lives at sea after the ship sunk off the Geraldton coast in 1941.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said it was important to honour the significant event which has shaped the nation’s history.

“The battle of the HMAS Sydney II and the German ship the HSK Kormoran plays a rich part not only in Geraldton’s identity but also in Australia’s history,” he said.

“Every year this solemn event attracts hundreds of people and it is only fitting that we pay our respects during this commemorative service.”

Ted Graham AM, one of the founding members of the Finding Sydney Foundation (FSF), will be the master of ceremonies for the service.

Mr Graham’s long-held desire to find the HMAS Sydney II saw him create the FSF and says the belief the Foundation could locate the wreckage came down to the remarkably accurate research by Kim Kirsner and John Dunn then of UWA which saw the HMAS Sydney II located in 2008.

“The Kormoran crew observed Sydney drifting or slowly steaming, on fire then disappearing late in the night, indicating a possible sinking location, which proved true,” he said.

“Despite fierce opposition from some, and the struggles with bureaucracy, the FSF raised around $5.3 million and engaged offshore contractors DOF Subsea, Williamson and Associates and Blue Water Recoveries (David Mearns) and located the wreckage of both ships.

“This discovery brought a measure of peace to the families of around 720 men lost on both ships, including the entire Sydney crew of 645 men.”

The first Welcome to Country at a HMAS Sydney II commemorative service will take place this year and will be conducted by Vietnam War veteran and NAIDOC Male Elder of the Year, Graham Taylor.

Royal Navy Commander David Salisbury MA OBE will deliver the main address and guest speaker Luke Wagstaff will also address the crowd as a family representative.

The service will take place on Tuesday 19 November from 5:30pm to 7:00pm at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial on Gummer Avenue.

Parking is limited and guests are encouraged to take advantage of the free shuttle bus service leaving from the QEII Centre before the service from 4:50pm and returning after.

Residents are also reminded that at approximately 6:55pm a large blank cannon shot will be fired as well as a display of multiple flares off the coast.

There will also be a service for the Unknown Sailor on Monday 18 November from 2:30pm to 3:00pm. It will take place at the Geraldton War Cemetery in Utakarra.

The service takes place every year at the grave site of the Unknown Sailor to reflect and remember the servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice for their country.

For more information about the 78th HMAS Sydney II Commemoration service, contact the City on 9956 6600 or email

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