19th November 2016 marks the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Sydney.
HMAS Sydney was a modified Leander-class light cruiser launched in 1934 for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). At the start of the Second World War she was patrolling in Australian waters and acting as convoy escort. Between May 1940 and February 1941 she was part of the British Mediterranean Fleet; where she was involved in multiple shore bombardments, supported the Malta Convoys, and sank two Italian warships. After her posting home she resumed her patrol and convoy escort duties. On 19th November 1941 she encountered the disguised German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran (HSK-8 ex merchant vessel Steiermark) off the Western Australian coast. In the ensuing battle both vessels were sunk taking all 645 men on board HMAS Sydney down with her. A large proportion of the Kormoran’ s crew made it to shore. Their respective losses of human lives were not reported to the Australian public until November 30th. The locations of HMAS Sydney and Kormoran were unknown until 2008 when they were discovered off the coast near Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia.
For their service, we remember and thank the following four local men who lost their lives on the HMAS Sydney.
Ramsay, Ernest Wilson (SIN: 21459 RAN)
Photograph sourced from Western Mail 04.12.1941 p.9.
Born 22°d December 1918 Bolton, England, to George and Catherine Louisa (nee Fallows) The family arrived at Fremantle, W.A., in 1926 and settled at Rockingham; where his father was a Presbyterian minister serving the local area including East Rockingham in the late 1920s, and 1930s. In the 1936 the family were living at Block 333, Group 80, Peel Estate, near Wellard; where he was listed as a labourer. Shortly afterwards, in April 1937, he joined the Royal Australian Navy to serve at sea on HMAS Stuart, HMAS Albatross, and HMAS Hobart prior to the start of World War II. He served from September 1938 until February 1941 on board HMAS Hobart on overseas duty; rising from an Ordinary to Able-Bodied Seaman; before a short stint at HMAS Cerberus and joining HMAS Sydney in May 1941. He was on board when she was sunk off the W.A. coast on the 19th November 1941. His death was the second tragedy for the family as their daughter, Kathleen, lost her life at 2 years when she was kicked in the head by a foal on a property at East Rockingham. Only a younger son remained of their three children.
Bodman, Anthony (“Tony”) Arthur (SIN: 22395 RAN)
Born 23rd February 1921 at Perth, Western Australia, to Hubert Victor and Phyllis Amelia (nee Griffiths) Bodman. As a small child he moved with his parents to Mandogalup (location 679), and attended Christian Brothers’ College, Fremantle, A. He joined the Royal Australian Navy, aged 17 years, in 1938 and was posted to HMAS Sydney soon afterwards. On 19th November 1941 he went down with the ship off the W.A. coast. He was his mother’s only son.
MacKinnon, Murdo (SIN: 20310 RAN)
Born 25th January 1918 Stornaway, Scotland to Frank and Janet MacKinnon . The family arrived at Fremantle,W .A., in 1923 to settle on Group 80, Peel Estate, near Wellard. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy in August 1934. In the years before the Second World War he rose from the rank of ordinary seaman to Acting Petty Officer and served at sea on board HMAS Canberra and HMAS Voyager before joining HMAS Sydney in October 1939. After receiving training at HMAS Cerberus for four months in 1940 he returned to HMAS Sydney to be confirmed Petty Officer in October of the same year. In the week leading up to this his engagement was announced to Jean Margaret Lewis of New South Wales. On the 19th November 1941 he went down with HMAS Sydney off the W.A. coast. He left his Wellard-based parents, nine siblings, his fiance, and other relatives to mourn his loss.
Turner, William Ross (SIN: F2686 RAN)
Born 7th December 1920 at Subiaco, Western Australia, to Leslie Houston and Jessie (nee Eddy) Turner. He moved with his parents to Group 81, the Folly, near Wellard, Peel Estate, in 1933 and left in 1936; when his parents moved back to West Subiaco, W. In January 1939 he enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy, and was mobilized on September 2nd the same year; a day after the Second World War was declared; to HMAS Sydney. On 19th November 1941 he lost his life on board HMAS Sydney when it sank while under attack off the W.A. coast.
Photograph sourced from Western Mail, ‘Commonwealth and State,’ 13.02.1941 p.42.