THE HON WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Defence Science and Personnel and Indigenous Health
18 November 2010
On the 69th anniversary of Australia’s greatest wartime naval tragedy, the Australian Government has announced funding to complete the HMAS Sydney II Memorial in Geraldton, Western Australia.
The HMAS Sydney II tragedy resulted in the loss of 645 Australians. The wreck was located in 2008 off the West Australian coast, more than 60 years after it sank.
The HMAS Sydney II Memorial was originally dedicated in 2001, and declared a military memorial of national significance in 2009.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, said the extra funds will be provided to go towards the construction of the final element of the Memorial—a pool of remembrance.
“The HMAS Sydney II Memorial has become an important place of reflection for the loved ones of those lost in the tragedy and the Australian Government is committed to ensuring its completion.
“The pool will feature 645 seagulls symbolising the number of Australians lost in the tragedy. The 645th seagull’s wing will touch a granite map marking the final resting place of HMAS Sydney II,” he said.
“This Memorial has become a national and international place of pilgrimage for the families and friends of those lost in the tragedy, and on behalf of the Australian Government I want to thank all those involved in the project for making it a reality.
“This has been a tremendous journey for all those involved and I hope the impending completion of the memorial will bring some closure to the families and friends of those lost,” Mr Snowdon said.
Overall, the Australian Government will have provided more than $290,000 to help construct the memorial which is due for completion in 2011. The remaining funds were raised by the Rotary Club of Geraldton.
Background on sinking of HMAS Sydney II
On 19 November 1941, HMAS Sydney II was engaged by the German ship Kormoran 130 miles off the West Australian coastline. It is believed the Kormoran, posing as an unarmed Dutch merchantman, avoided replying to requests for identification from HMAS Sydney II before opening fire.
The Sydney II was severely damaged. Returning fire, Sydney II damaged the Kormoran forcing its crew to abandon ship. Survivors of the Kormoran reported the Australian ship was last seen heavily on fire.
For more information on HMAS Sydney II visit the AWM website.
For more information on the memorial visit www.hmassydneymemorial.com.au.
Media inquiries: Minister Snowdon: Alice Plate 0400 045 999
Dept of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203