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The Sinking of HMAS Sydney: Consequences and Memory

Author(s): Claire P. Phelan ; Janet Adamski

Year: 2017

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This paper will examine the sinking of HMAS Sydney in the Indian Ocean on 19 November 1941, by the German raider, SV Kormoran. All hands on the Sydney were lost, a total of 635 men, one-third of the nation’s Navy. The fate of the Sydney has always remained controversial, due to the lack of survivors.

Despite numerous attempts, investigators consistently failed to trace the wreckage of either ship until 2008, when the crew of SV Geosounder located both vessels, thus closing one of the most tragic episodes in the history of the nation.


Further to reviewing the circumstances that led to the sinking and discovery of the Sydney, this paper will analyze the enormous impact the vessel’s loss had on the people of a country in great peril of invasion. Government sources, the print media, and personal diaries have been consulted to add an additional dimension to the narrative.

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The Sinking of HMAS Sydney: Consequences and Memory. Claire P. Phelan, Janet Adamski. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435696)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 430

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America