Remembering HMAS Sydney II 80 years on

Those who tragically lost their lives in the sinking of HMAS Sydney II off the coast of Western Australia in 1941 are being remembered 80 years on.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the loss of 645 officers and crew is the greatest single tragedy in Australian naval history.

“More than a third of the crew who died were from NSW. They were our sons, brothers, husbands and partners, all of whom were dearly loved, and today we remember them,” Mr Perrottet said. Minister for Veterans Natalie Ward paid tribute to the lives lost protecting our country.

“This significant anniversary is an opportunity to pay our respects for the sacrifice they made to defend the freedoms we now enjoy,” Mrs Ward said.

The Sydney was making its way down the north coast of Western Australia when it sighted what appeared to be a Dutch merchant vessel, which turned out to be the German ship Kormoran. A deadly battle ensued and while most of the German crew survived, by midnight the Sydney had sunk with no survivors.

HMAS Sydney Association President Barry Brooks said the ship’s loss was due to the closeness of the action and Kormoran's surprise and accurate, rapid fire. “Although the Sydney's loss with all hands was a great loss to our nation, it should be remembered that her fast reaction sank the Kormoran too, taking down with her over 200 mines,” Mr Brooks said.

“Had the Germans been able to lay those mines, it’s been estimated the Kormoran could have sunk 20 merchant vessels off our coast.”

A wreath laying ceremony and memorial service will take place at the Cenotaph this morning.

For more information on the Sydney’s history, visit:

Amber Muir | Premier | 0447 695 520
Nina Stevens | Minister Ward | 0412 438 647