THE sailors who lost their lives when the HMAS Sydney II was sunk off the WA coast during World War II will be honoured in Fremantle again this year.
The Fremantle Surf Life saving Club will hold its annual HMAS Sydney II Memorial Service tomorrow (Sunday November 24) at 8.30am on Leighton Beach, with president Jack Dowie saying they had a close connection to the doomed ship’s crew.
Mr Dowie says many of the Sydney’s crew had taken part in club activities during their downtime.
“For many of these sailors, this beach was a home away from home and I am sure it was a welcome break from the discipline of active war duty,” he says.
“In February 1941, the crew of the HMAS Sydney II presented the Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club with a handmade surf reel, in appreciation of the hospitality shown to them.”
In November that year, the Sydney came across German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran about 200km off Shark Bay.
In the ensuing battle both ships were crippled; while some Kormoran crew survived to tell the sale, all 645 men from the Sydney went down with the ship.
“Fremantle Surf Life Saving Club recognises and will continue to annually recognise the ultimate sacrifice given by the crew of the HMAS Sydney II,” Mr Dowie says.
The resting place of the two ships was shrouded in mystery until 2008, when the Kormoran’s wreck was discovered; five days later the Finding Sydney Foundation had also located the Sydney.
In 2015 an expedition team supported by the Australian government, Curtin University, WA Museum and other organisations, surveyed the wreck in detail.
The team took more than half a million photos which are being used by the engineers of Curtin University’s Hub for Immersive Visualisation and eResearch to create a virtual 3D model of the shipwreck.
Dr Andrew Woods, manager of HIVE, told Create magazine the team was still a few years away from completing the ambitious project.