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Story from The Bulletin

I've found HMAS Sydney

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sensational claim by British researcher thickens the plot of World War II maritime mystery. By Roy Eccleston.

A British researcher has sensationally claimed to have solved Australia's greatest naval mystery, the location of the World War II wreck of HMAS Sydney.

The cruiser is lying on the seabed off the coast off Western Australia, marine archeologist Timothy Akers says, citing satellite imagery.

His claims are likely to again raise questions about why successive Australian governments have failed to find the resting place of the more than 600 crew who went down with the Sydney.

Akers insists his radical technique works, and that he's prepared to provide the location to the Australian Government for no charge. However, bad blood between wreck hunters and red tape is slowing progress on the search for the Sydney.

The cruiser Sydney and its 645 crew were last seen around midnight on November 19, 1941, limping away ablaze after a battle with a disguised German raider, Kormoran, which also sank. Neither wreck has been found. No Australian survived, but 317 of nearly 400 Germans did.

A prominent British naval historian and an internationally lauded underwater archaeologist are among those to tell The Bulletin that Akers has some evidence to back his claims that he can use x-ray, infrared and ultraviolet light bands to see the seabed.

Akers also says he's found Kormoran and Japanese vessels near to the Sydney, even though Japan was not in the war at the time of the battle. His claim has been rejected as nonsense by the Perth-based company HMAS Sydney Search, which has engaged the successful British-based wreck-hunter David Mearns to conduct a search.

But so far HMAS Sydney Search has failed to raise the $5m it says is needed. The company's general manager, retired navy Commodore Bob Trotter, blames Canberra for his own non-profit company's lack of funds.

He says a $1.3m grant for the hunt announced by John Howard in mid-2005 hasn't been accepted because of "onerous" and "unrealistic" conditions imposed as part of a long and complex contract. The search company may have to shut down without more Canberra cash, its directors warn.

Trotter says Canberra recently spent $8m retrieving a Black Hawk helicopter and soldier lost near Fiji in deep water, and asks why it won't spend the estimated $5m needed for a search the group believes has a strong chance of finding Sydney and its crew of more than 600.

HMAS Sydney Search chairman Ted Graham says the key is to bring "closure" to the families, including some widows still alive. But to contract a ship for the summer of 2008, the government will have to agree to boost its funding to around $4.5m by the end of next month.

But the government is unmoved. A spokesman for John Cobb, the assistant minister for the environment and water resources, says the contract offered to Sydney Search is a standard one, and won't be changed. Cobb's spokesman says other donors need to step up to fill the shortfall, and that extra money is unlikely to be available.

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The above claim has been refuted by HMAS Sydney Search. See below excerpt from the Daily Telegraph.

"...Several British experts have supported Mr Akers' findings, but Australian officials want proof.

Mr Akers has refused to divulge all of the details of the technique he used to locate the sunken vessels, which incorporate satellite images and radiation readings to detect images underwater.

He claims to have located the vessels in the Indian Ocean off Shark Bay and Carnarvon ? an area also favoured by Mr Mearns.

However, Mr Mearns has rejected Mr Akers' claimed discovery as "total bullsh*t", The Bulletin reported.

Mr Mearns said the designated search area takes in 1600 square nautical miles of depths between 2300m and 4300m.

Mr Akers has offered to tell the Federal Government the location of the wreck if a formal request is made and providing "this wreck is not robbed".

"I have also found a number of Japanese vessels ? two submarines and possibly a Japanese aircraft carrier in the general vicinity of HMAS Sydney," Mr Akers said.

"The Kormoran and another Japanese submarine is further north."

Mr Mearns said the idea of a submarine being involved "is nonsense".

Although all died on board the Sydney, 317 of the 397 men from the Kormoran survived."

Regards;

Johnsy

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I hope this is true, it would finally put all the rumours to rest and be a focal point for those surviving families. Though I'm not sure about their method!

Regards;

Johnsy

The 66-year search for the wreck of HMAS Sydney is believed to be over.

The ship, in which 645 Australians died, is believed to have been found by a group of West Australians using a grappling hook and a camera last weekend.

The Sydney sank after a battle with German raider, Kormoran, on November 19, 1941, Fairfax newspapers said.

Video film of the find shows tangled wreckage over large, much longer than any other ship known to have sunk nearby.

The search team believe the video, which shows decking bolts, radio aerials, steam tubes and signs of massive damage show the wreck is the Sydney.

The shipwreck is near Cape Inscription on the northern end of Dirk Hartog Island.

It is in about 150 metres of water.

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Another hoax it would seem, I think in future I will wait until proof positive is presented instead of getting my hopes up over what turned out to be a unsubstantiated rumour. :blush:

Regards;

Johnsy

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Well, not the Sydney, but another step closer... :jumping:

Regards,

Johnsy

Wreck of German raider Kormoran found

Sunday Mar 16 12:16 AEDT

The wreck of the German merchant raider Kormoran, believed responsible for the war-time sinking of HMAS Sydney in November 1941, has been found off the Western Australian coast.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, along with Australian Defence Force heads, announced the discovery at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on Sunday.

He said the search body called Finding Sydney made the discovery on Saturday, about 150km west of Shark Bay.

"We are one step closer as a nation to hopefully finding Sydney," Mr Rudd said.

"This is an important part in solving a 65-year-old puzzle."

Australia's greatest maritime mystery claimed the lives of the Sydney's 645 crew.

Sailing from Sumatra back to Fremantle in November 1941, the warship encountered what purported to be the Dutch freighter Straat Malakka off the West Australian coast.

But the freighter was really the disguised German mercantile raider Kormoran.

After an ensuing fight, the Sydney went down with all hands and represents the greatest ever loss of life in an Australian warship.

It was also the largest vessel of any country to be lost with no survivors during the Second World War.

The 317 survivors from the 397 crew aboard Kormoran were picked up over ensuing days, giving the only eyewitness accounts of what occurred.

?AAP 2008

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Close up of the Kormoran, identified by its flared bow. Can't wait till they get some actual photos. This should give some idea of the size the area that it is spread over, this being the object in the top-centre of the previous image.

Edited by Tiger-pie

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How deep is the water Kormoran was found in?

One step closer, indeed. Thanks. :beer:

G'da Rick, the wreakage was found approximately 112 nautical miles off the West Australian coast (Steep Point, about 800 kilometres north of Perth) lying in 2,560 metres of water.

I am very excited... :jumping:

Look forward to when the wreakage has been photographed and studied to get the full and final story.

A friend of my Mother asked me many years ago if I knew anything about the location of the wreakage as her older brother was one of the men lost. There was a definate feeling among those left behind that there was a cover-up.

Regards,

Johnsy

Link:

http://www.steeppoint.com.au/

Edited by Tiger-pie

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Posted about 12 minutes before my last post. Still not fully confirmed with images, but oh so close... :jumping::jumping:

Regards;

Johnsy

Wreckage of HMAS Sydney found off West Australian coast

Alison Rehn with AAP

March 17, 2008 09:30am

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed the wreck of the HMAS Sydney has been found nearly 2.5km underwater off the coast of Western Australia.

Speaking at a news conference about 9.20am, Mr Rudd said the discovery was a time to reflect on the bravery of all the souls lost on board.

The Sydney's entire crew of 645 went down with the ship in the Indian Ocean in November, 1941, and its location has been a mystery for more than 66 years.

The ship was found using a high-resolution geosounder to examine deep water off Western Australia, about 800km north of Perth and about 240km off Shark Bay.

The wreckage of the German merchant raider Kormoran, believed to have sunk the Australian warship, was found before the discovery of the Sydney in 2560m of water.

Early images show that the Sydney's hull remains largely intact and upright on the ocean floor.

"This is a historic day for all Australians and a sad day for all Australians as we confirm the discovery of the HMAS Sydney," Mr Rudd said.

"I'm advised that the HMAS Sydney was found 12 nautical miles from the Kormoran some 8 nautical miles from the principal battle site and at a depth of 2470m."

"The Australian Government hopes that the discovery brings some closure to the 645 families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy in 1942."

"It's also time for the nation to reflect on the bravery of all of those who gave their lives in defence of their country in this particularly bloody and brutal engagement," he said.

The HMAS Sydney was found yesterday, but the discovery was confirmed this morning.

Mr Rudd announced an interim environmental protection order to prevent the sites from being damaged, and he said that the site would be considered as a tomb to be "treated with complete respect".

A remote submersible equipped with cameras and other hi-tech equipment is expected to assess the site early next week.

Mr Rudd said that the German Government had been informed about the discovery.

Chief executive of the Finding Sydney Foundation, Bob Trotter, earlier said his organisation was "pretty confident'' evidence of the Sydney wreckage had been found.

He said the organisation strongly felt that the site should remain undisturbed.

Mr Trotter likened the search for Sydney as climbing Mt Everest.

Ean McDonald, a signalman onboard the Sydney until 1939, described reports of the finding as "momentous news''.

He queried whether the location of the Sydney and the Kormoran had been kept secret by "hierarchy''.

"There's always been that side of the mystery,'' he told ABC Radio.

Mr McDonald said the Sydney would have been sending out signals during the pitched battle with the Kormoran.

"There is this conspiracy theory which a lot of people hold.''

Australia's most enduring maritime tragedy happened as the Sydney was sunk returning to Fremantle when it met the German raider disguised as the Dutch freighter, Straat Malakka.

A battle ensued from which neither ship survived.

Eighty men from the 397-strong crew of the Kormoran perished.

West Australian Nick Walden said it had been an anxious wait for news since the Finding Sydney Foundation search team left the Geraldton port two weeks ago.

Mr Walden, of Geraldton, never knew his uncle, Albert Hollington, who was an acting leading seaman aboard the Sydney.

"I'd like to see them have a look and work out exactly what happened so we can put to rest all these stories," Mr Walden said.

Many theories about the fate of Sydney's crew have surfaced over the decades, arising from a struggle to understand why there were no survivors.

Edited by Tiger-pie

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And this sums up the depth of feeling of those left behind.

Regards,

Johnsy

Sailor's daughter cries as wreck found

Almost 67 years after her father's ship, HMAS Sydney, was sunk in battle in World War II, Adelaide woman Barbara Craill has broken down in tears on hearing its wreckage has finally been found.

Ms Craill's father, Walter Freer, was a 38-year-old anti-aircraft gunner on the Sydney when it went down without trace after a battle with German ship the Kormoran on November 19, 1941.

The Sydney and its 645 crew were last seen by some of the Kormoran's 317 survivors heading west while on fire, into the Indian Ocean, after the battle off the West Australian coast.

After wreckage of the Kormoran was found on Saturday in waters about 800km north of Perth, the Finding Sydney Foundation reported on Monday that pieces of the Sydney's wreckage had now also been found.

Ms Craill said there was great closure in the news.

"I haven't yet felt the sense of relief but I've broken down and cried," Ms Craill told the Fairfax Radio Network.

She said she and her family hoped for many years during and after the war that her father might still be alive.

"For many years we hoped and at the end of the war, when there was victory in the Pacific, we all went to town, of course, and I remember my sisters and my mother, we all searched sailors' faces, hoping that our dad was there. Perhaps he had amnesia or something like that," she said.

"I know that's a childhood thing. But we looked at every sailor's face thinking he could be back and mightn't know it and we would know him."

Speaking earlier to Channel Nine's Today show, Ms Craill said she would "move mountains" to visit the site of the wreckage and would like a commemoration service to now be held.

After so many years of uncertainty about her father and his fellow sailors' fate, Ms Craill said she would like forensic testing of the ship to uncover the truth of what happened when the ship went down.

"I would like the wreckage to be forensically examined because that's the way we will get the truth to what happened, because there's many of us believe that the truth hasn't been told," Ms Craill told Nine.

She said her mother and one sister had died without ever knowing what happened to her father.

"They didn't know. They all wanted to know and it's come very late for a lot of people who've passed on. But there's some of us still left and we've been clinging to this and we hoped and prayed that we would find the Sydney, yes."

She said her tears today followed many years of crying for her missing father.

"You get on with life ... but every time something comes up you cry, you just cry, it just happens," she said.

"The not-knowing and the fact that our men were out there and nothing had been done, and all of a sudden you get this coming together now and it's a great moment in history."

? 2008 AAP

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Great news, Johnsy.

For those of us not intimate with the tale, it seems that there are conspirary theories surrounding the action and the sinking. What? Why?

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What has always been incredibly odd is HOW a German vessel that was, after all, nothing but a freighter with a few concealed guns, managed to sink a cruiser-- and not only sink it, but have there be NO survivors.

I always assumed that the Sydney's magazines must have gone up, like HMS Hood.

But if the hull is "intact" and upright on the sea bottom, there goes the cataclysmic atomization theory.

Since the Japanese were into the war mere weeks later, presumably the government would not have wanted to panic people with German surface vessels off the west coast and Japanese bombers appearing over the north coast.

But how could a capitol ship go down with NO survivors if it had not blown part to smithereens? Even if no order to abandon ship was given, ablaze and obviously going down, somebody SHOULD have gotten off.

That's the eternal mystery of No Survivors.

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Great news, Johnsy.

For those of us not intimate with the tale, it seems that there are conspirary theories surrounding the action and the sinking. What? Why?

Because I am so crap at typing, I will use someone elses words. Given what was said about the hull in the article above, it leaves more questions than answers. A proper survey of the hull should reveal Sydney's final moments, though it will never be known what the actual fate of any men who went into the water was.

The general concensus was that Sydney approach the Kormoran without being closed up for action, and many of the crew were on the upper decks. If they were in normal cruising watches then none of the internal watertight bulkheads would have been secured. If Sydney had been torpedoed below the water line it is conceivable that she would have flooded at a rapid rate. For no-one to escape over the side, well that seems very strange. Even Hood had a few survivours.

The West Australian coast is a vast unpopulated and inhospitable area, even more so at the time of the sinking, so any crew would be hard pressed to survive should they have made it ashore.

Rest assured that as soon as images become available, I will post them here.

Regards,

Johnsy

From this source;

http://www.westaustralianvista.com/hmas-sydney.html

The mystery surrounding the fate of the HMAS Sydney has never been solved. The search for the ship's wreck has turned up no trace of her. The families have waited patiently for over 60 years for closure. Having decoded Commander Theodor Detmers diaries, no additional information of the whereabouts of the Sydney have been disclosed. For many years there has been rumour, speculation and conspiracy theories about the fate of the Sydney. Some believe that it was blown up by the Germans and the survivors murdered (as many didn't believe the accounts made by the German survivors). Some believe that the Sydney was sunk by a Japanese submarine and the crew subsequently murdered. Others even claim the HMAS Sydney was not destroyed at all, but captured and the crew murdered. Glenys McDonald a woman who has researched the Sydney for years suggests a cover-up. Stories of unanswered distress signals, debris and unidentified bodies washing up on the beach have all been hushed up by authorities suggesting there was more to it more than what they were telling the public. Some believe the cover up by authorities was due to the fear that such a tragedy would destroy the Nations moral. In October 2006, the body of the unknown sailor was exhumed from Christmas Island for forensic examination. The body was officially identified as one of the crew of the Sydney (though no name has been released). The forensic team at the Sydney University were given the task of examining the remains and discovered a metal object lodged in the skull of the sailor. They identified the object as a bullet from a low muzzle-velocity weapon, such as a hand gun, leading to more speculation. However, in December, the object was confirmed to be a piece of shrapnel from a German shell and not a bullet as first thought. This has again raised more doubts about the version of events believed to have happened on that fateful night. It seems unlikely that a mortally wounded man could have made it into a float while the Sydney was still moving. The focus is now moving to Hans Linke (the Kormoran?s wireless operator), who made claims in 1996 to The Australian newspaper, that both ships were virtually stationary when the Kormoran fired an underwater torpedo at the Sydney, making her virtually disabling instantly. Under this scenario it would make sense that the ship was abandoned and the men took to the Carley floats. It would have been in one of the floats that the unknown sailor received the fatal shrapnel wound. This scenario does little to resolve to whereabouts of the HMAS Sydney.

Edited by Tiger-pie

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Rest assured that as soon as images become available, I will post them here. LOL, no sooner said than done, got to love the internet.

The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders briefs the media at today's press conference which announced the finding of HMAS Sydney (2), with (LtoR) The Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Mr Kevin Rudd and Mr Ted Graham Chairman of The Finding Sydney Foundation listening on.

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Sonar image of Sydney. It can be seen on right. The wreck is clearly visible next to a well defined debris field. The height of the wreck above the seabed is causing the dark acoustic shadow just to the right of the wreck. This image covers 6kms of seabed.

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From the DoD site.

AIR FORCE DETACHMENT ON HMAS SYDNEY II

The discovery of the wreck of HMAS Sydney II helps close a chapter of Royal Australian Air Force history.

Six RAAF members were among the ship's 645 crew when it went down with all hands in 1941. This small party was a detachment from RAAF's No. 9 Squadron based at Rathmines, New South Wales. The detachment was embarked to operate and maintain the Seagull V Walrus amphibious aircraft which the light cruiser normally carried for reconnaissance, gunnery spotting, and search and rescue work.

Reports from German eyewitnesses (the only survivors of the action) later described how, during the opening salvos of the engagement, Kormoran hit HMAS Sydney II in the area between the ship's funnels, where the Walrus A2-L2177 was sitting on its catapult.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon, both acknowledged the sacrifices of the Air Force detachment when they addressed Parliament yesterday on the loss of HMAS Sydney II.

'I add my congratulations to The Finding Sydney Foundation and the Royal Australian Navy in locating HMAS Sydney II. This discovery is also a significant and emotional event for Air Force,' Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd said.

'I hope that tracing the ship's resting place provides a degree of comfort to the families of the six RAAF members and the Royal Australian Navy crew who served their nation with courage and died in this fierce battle.' AIRMSHL Shepherd said.

The Air Force members lost with HMAS Sydney II were:

Flying Officer Raymond Barker Barrey (pilot), 25, from Welland, SA

Flight Sergeant Sidney Marley (fitter 2E), 29, from Hamilton, NSW

Corporal Arthur John Clarke (fitter armourer), 34, English-born, from Edithvale, Vic

Corporal Roy Ebenezer Foster (fitter 2A), 36, from Petrie, QLD

Leading Aircraftman Richard Dodds (fitter 2A), 26, English-born, from Sydney, NSW

Leading Aircraftman Keith Homard (photographer), 27, from Maitland, NSW

Edited by Tiger-pie

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Has there been any reaction from Kormoran survivors still alive?

Any who chose/were allowed to stay on in Australia after the war?

I don't believe that any survivours stayed on in Australia, but I can't confirm that. I wouldn't imagine they wouldn't be too welcome in post-war Australia given that every state here lost someone that day.

The only comment I have seen from any German survivours was the following:

Relieved survivor: I hope I get my watch back

Miki Perkins

March 18, 2008

KORMORAN survivor Bill Elmecker has a gentle sense of humour: when asked how he feels about the discovery of the World War II German merchant raider on the sea floor off Western Australia he replies: "Well, I hope I get my watch back."

Mr Elmecker, 85, is the only remaining HSK Kormoran survivor in Victoria, and possibly Australia. He witnessed the fierce gun battle between his ship and HMAS Sydney, which vanished with her 645 crew on November 19, 1941.

On Sunday the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, revealed the wreck of Kormoran had been discovered off Steep Point, north west of Geraldton. Yesterday HMAS Sydney was also found, its hull largely intact, about four kilometres from the other wreck.

Mr Elmecker was 16 when he left the family farm in Austria and was conscripted into the German Navy as a cook, and later a gunner aboard Kormoran.

"I'm happy they find my ship but I feel pity for everyone on the Sydney. They would have been taken by sharks," he said yesterday.

"They were good fighters and their families will be happy they have been found."

Kormoran had been posing as the Dutch merchant ship Straat Malakka and when its cover was blown Mr Elmecker had been responsible for dropping the camouflage railing in front of the guns as HMAS Sydney approached. The noise of the falling metal railings was so loud that it burst his eardrums and the guns fired so rapidly that the paint peeled off the metal barrels, he said.

"For about 20 or 30 minutes we were shooting, shooting, shooting. They had big elevators bringing up all the ammunition from below," he said.

"It was too busy to think. I was running around reloading."

When Kormoran was damaged beyond repair Korvettenkapitan Theodore Detmers ordered the surviving crew into lifeboats and blew up the vessel on a time fuse with more than 300 sea mines. More than 80 dead Germans were left behind.

Mr Elmecker's lifeboat capsized and when it was righted the survivors found its provisions had floated away. They last saw Sydney drifting away on the horizon.

As the sharks circled they spent seven days adrift, able to drink only a sip of fresh water each day, until they were picked up by the Australian cargo vessel Koolinda.

Mr Elmecker, known as Internee No. 1159, and the 320 other Kormoran survivors were interrogated in Perth and later taken to PoW Camp 13, near Murchison, in Victoria.

Arthur Knee, researcher at the Tatura Irrigation and Wartime Camps Museum, said that at its height the camp held 4000 Italian and German prisoners in good conditions.

"They were well fed and there was no rationing as there was outside," Mr Knee said. Despite a daring escape in 1946, after which he slept in cemeteries and worked illegally for a local widow, Mr Elmecker was repatriated to Germany in 1947 but chose to return with his Austrian wife, Theresia.

"He's happy the wrecks have been found. We're both happy. Thank God it solved the mystery," Mrs Elmecker said.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/03/17/1205602293098.html

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Today the SV Geosounder will sail from Geraldton, West Australia, to conduct a final visual confirmation that they have found HMAS Sydney and Kormoron. They will use an ROV to take photos to identify the two wreaks.

The distance between the two ships has put to rest the persistant rumour that the Germans had machinegunned the Sydney survivours in the water.

Geraldton is the location of the HMAS Sydney memorial.

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Such was the shock of the sinking of the Sydney that the government of the day decided that they would delay the release of information. The Sydney was sunk on November the 19th 1941, it was not until November 30 that the Curtin government announced the loss of the warship, well after the first German lifeboats were being recovered.

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