19 July 2006

Sunk but not located: more on HMAS Sydney

Today's Australian has a story about HMAS Sydney which was sunk somewhere off the Western Australian coast
in November 1941, apparently by a German raider Kormoran acting alone. Because no Australians of the Sydney's 645 complement survived, while about 320 of the Kormoran's did, some questions have been raised about the exact circumstances of the former's demise. Some have alleged that a Japanese submarine was involved (bear in mind that this was a few days before Japan entered the war) , that the Sydney survivors were machine gunned in the water and that the Australian government concealed all the evidence.

The Australian has found a 92 year old ex-Kormoran officer, Reinhardt von Malapert, living in Chile. He has offered to help locate the Sydney's resting place. A consortium including David Mearns, described by the paper as "the world's leading shipwreck hunter", and a non-profit organisation HMAS Sydney Search Pty Ltd, is seeking additional funding to proceed with the search. They have already received $2m support from the Federal, WA and NSW governments but, according to another report (not online) on p5, need an unspecified additional amount.

Rumours about the fate of the Sydney's crew (as opposed to the ship itself) have abounded for years. While locating the wreck may not answer all the questions, it may fill in a few more pieces of the jigsaw. I therefore support the search for the Sydney's wreck. I'd even be prepared to make a modest donation to HMAS Sydney Search Inc if they contacted me.

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