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The Sinking of HMAS Sydney


Tom Lewis

Big Sky Publishing, 2023

Paperback ‎     540pp     RRP: $32.99


Reviewer: Adrian Catt, January 2024


What a great read!  So much more than the title indicates, this most interesting and exhaustive ‘almanac’ contains everything about Navy: - Academies, officers, ratings, training, battle cruisers, armaments, supply, signals, warfare, and the Service lives of the personnel who go to sea; in this case, and in depth, the commissioning, service and fate of HMAS Sydney II.

Sunk in mysterious circumstances off the coast of Western Australia in 1941 by the German raider Kormoran, there were to be no Australian survivors. Only a handful of German crew survived the fateful encounter and witnessed the sinking of both the Sydney and the Kormoran.

For decades, the only account of what transpired in the battle between these two ships was what the Germans were saying, and this account was viewed with strong suspicion and scepticism: How could the Sydney totally disappear, and without a single survivor? One dead Australian seaman was found on a raft; his identity was eventually confirmed after fifteen years of DNA searching, and he was accorded a burial with full Naval honours in 2021.

This book describes what happened once the wrecks of the two combatant vessels were located in 2008.  Official Australian investigation decades after the loss of HMAS Sydney found the truth, and its surprise is revealed in this exemplary text.

Even a person with no knowledge of the Navy or interest in seafaring, will be absolutely sold on the enlightening and meticulous detail contained in this book, and be at awe of the men and their ship, whilst being let-in on the ‘secret’ which sealed the fate of HMAS Sydney’s crew in 1941.

Read it – you’ll enjoy it!




The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.

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