80 years ago today

80 years ago today, Australia suffered the largest loss of life in our Navy’s history.

HMAS Sydney had been the pride of the Royal Australian Navy in the early years of the Second World War; she had been part of the bombardment of Bardia in June 1940, and played a role in the Malta-bound convoys as part of the British Mediterranean Battle Fleet.

Her sinking of the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni near Crete in July 1940 made her ‘the toast of the country’. Her civic reception in Sydney and celebrations in Fremantle made her an icon for many Australians, with people lining the streets to cheer the triumphant crew.

On 11 November, 1941, HMAS Sydney left Fremantle to escort the troop ship Zealandia for some of its journey to Singapore.

Unknowingly, it was the last time her crew would see Australian shores.

Until 2008, the only information about Sydney’s fate came from the survivors of the German Raider Kormoran. Their accounts stated Sydney had sighted them 240 kilometres south-west of Carnarvon, Western Australia.

Disguised as the Dutch freighter Straat Malakaa, Kormoran lured the technologically superior Sydney into range of its guns and torpedoes.

In the battle that followed, both ships were critically damaged and eventually sank.

While 315 of the Kormoran’s 393 officers and men survived and were rescued, none of the Sydney’s 645-strong crew were ever recovered alive, despite an extensive land and sea search.

The final hours of Sydney and the fate of the 645 men on board remained controversial until she was found. The Kormoran survivors maintained the ship drifted off into the distance and the final flickering of the burning Sydney disappeared about midnight.

After 67 years Sydney’s final resting place was discovered, finally ending the mystery surrounding her fate.

Three months after the battle the body of a sailor from Sydney washed up in a heavily damaged raft on Christmas Island.

After so much time at sea his blue overalls had been bleached white and he was unable to be identified, spending the next eight decades simply named ‘The Unknown Sailor’.

Today, 80 years after his death he has been identified as Thomas Welsby Clark, a 21 year old from Brisbane.

We want to congratulate everyone who has been involved in identifying Able Seaman Clark, may he rest in peace.

HOW TO SIMULATE BEING A SAILOR

  1. Buy a steel dumpster, paint it grey inside and out, and live in it for six months.
  2. Run all the pipes and wires in your house exposed on the walls.
  3. Repaint your entire house every month using grey paint.
  4. Renovate your bathroom. Lower all showerheads to four and one-half feet off the deck.
  5. When you take showers, make sure you turn off the water while you soap down.
  6. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, turn the water heater temperature up to 300 degrees. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, turn the water heater off.
  7. On Saturdays and Sundays tell your family they used too much water during the week, so no bathing will be allowed.
  8. Put 5W-20 lube oil in your humidifier, instead of water, and set it on high.
  9. Leave your lawn mower running in your living room 24 hours a day to maintain proper ambient noise level.
  10. Once a month, disassemble all your major appliances and electric garden tools, inspect them and then reassemble them. Do this every week with your lawnmower, weed whacker and other fuel-powered tools.
  11. Once a week blow compressed air up through your chimney, making sure the wind carries the soot across and onto your neighbour’s house.
  12. Raise the thresholds and lower the headers of your front and back doors, so that you either trip or bang your head every time you pass through them.
  13. Raise your bed to within 6 inches of the ceiling, so you can’t turn over without getting out and then getting back in.
  14. Have a fluorescent lamp installed on the bottom of your coffee table and lie under it to read books.
  15. Sleep on the shelf in your closet. Replace the closet door with a curtain. Have your spouse whip open the curtain about 4 hours after you go to sleep, shine a flashlight in your eyes, and say “Sorry, wrong rack.”
  16. Make each member of your family qualify to operate each appliance in your house i.e., dishwasher operator, blender technician, etc.
  17. Find the dumbest guy in the neighbourhood and make him your boss for the next two years.
  18. Have your neighbour come over each day at 5 am, blow a whistle so loud Helen Keller could hear it, and shout “Reveille, reveille, all hands heave out and trice up.”
  19. Have your mother-in-law write down everything she’s going to do the following day, then have her make you stand in your back yard at 0600 (6 A.M.) while she reads it to you.
  1. Empty all the garbage bins in your house and sweep the driveway three times a day, whether it needs it or not.
  2. Have your neighbour collect all your mail for a month, read your magazines, and randomly lose every 5th item before delivering it to you.
  3. Watch no TV except for movies played in the middle of the night. Have your family vote on which movie to watch, and then show a different one.
  4. When your children are in bed, run into their room with a megaphone shouting that your home is under attack and ordering them to their battle stations.
  5. Post a menu on the kitchen door informing your family that they are having steak for dinner. Then make them wait in line for an hour. When they finally get to the kitchen, tell them you are out of steak, but they can have dried ham or hot dogs. Repeat daily until they ignore the menu and just ask for hot dogs.
  6. Bake a cake. Prop up one side of the pan so the cake bakes unevenly. Spread icing real thick to level it off.
  7. Get up every night around midnight and have a peanut butter sandwich on stale bread.
  8. Set your alarm clock to go off at random times during the night. At the alarm, jump up and dress as fast as you can, making sure to button your top shirt button and tuck your pants into your socks. Run out into the backyard and uncoil the garden hose.
  9. Every week or so, throw your cat or dog into the pool and shout, “Man overboard port side!” Rate your family members on how fast they respond.
  10. Put the headphones from your stereo on your head, but don’t plug them in. Hang a paper cup around your neck on a string. Stand in front of the stove, and speak into the paper cup “Stove manned and ready.” After an hour or so, speak into the cup again “Stove secured.” Roll up the headphones and paper cup and stow them in a shoebox.
  11. Place a podium at the end of your driveway. Have your family stand watches at the podium, rotating at 4-hour intervals. This is best done when the weather is worst. January is a good time.
  12. When there is a thunderstorm in your area, get a wobbly rocking chair, sit in it and rock as hard as you can until you become nauseous. Make sure to have a supply of stale crackers in your shirt pocket.
  13. Buy a trash compactor but only use it once a week. Store up garbage in your bathtub.
  14. Invite at least 375 people, most of whom you don’t really like, to come and live with you for about 6 months.
  15. Walk around your car for 4 hours checking the tire pressure every 15 minutes.
  16. Make coffee using eighteen scoops of budget priced coffee grounds per pot, and allow the pot to simmer for 5 hours before drinking.
  17. Take a two-week vacation visiting the Far East, and call it “world travel”.
  18. Lock yourself and your family in the house for six weeks. Tell them that at the end of the 6th week you are going to take them to Disney World for “liberty.” At the end of the 6th week, inform them the trip to Disney World has been cancelled because they need to get ready for an inspection, and it will be another week before they can leave the house.

Now, who’s ready to go back to sea?

 

WHY DO SAILORS HAVE SUCH EXTREME BEHAVIOUR?

This is from a Navy subscriber:

 

I’m not sure who wrote this, but it says it all.

When I read this, I understand why I am like I am. Offering no excuses. Would I do it again? My answer is yes. The bond and camaraderie last a lifetime.

 

WHY DO SAILORS HAVE SUCH EXTREME BEHAVIOUR?

I’ve often heard said that Sailors drink too much, fight too much and they carry a joke that one step too far.

It’s easy to condemn them for their loutish behaviour and their gallows sense of humour.

If you have never served in the Navy it’s easy to get the wrong impression of Sailors because clearly, Civvies don’t understand them and we struggle sometimes to understand ourselves.

Sailors tend to have more extreme behaviour not because they have mental health issues, though some of us did, but because of environmental impact and learned behaviours.

Try living in a steel box, in beds three high in a confined space, with 50 others for months on end. Living in a steel box that is full of fuel, electricity, complex electronics and weapons. A steel box that catches fire so frequently so you have to prepare for the worst every day.

Our ability to entertain ourselves without TV the internet or Amazon. How as a young Sailor our infatuation with ladies of the night and establishments that “normal” people would not step foot in was considered healthy.

A place where there is no room for privacy, for “me” time or longed for solitude. A place where getting contact from the outside world has a huge impact on your well being.

Try living a life that’s full of uncertainty, not knowing if your important plans will come to fruition due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

Work hours on end until the job is done regardless of how tired you are. Be aware that Shipmates rely on you to pull your weight and conversely you rely on them, for only teamwork will achieve our goals.

Knowing in your heart when you leave that it will be difficult at best, to replace the camaraderie the esprit de corps the bond forged in adversity, the life we took for granted and embraced that others will never understand can never be replicated.

And that is why for some of us we struggle to fit into a society that can never comprehend what our lives were and think our behaviour is extreme.

Look after yourself and enjoy life.

Vendetta Veterans’ Association (Qld) Division

You’re invited to the 

Vendetta Veterans’ Association (Qld) Division 

Christmas Luncheon

 to be held on

Sunday 5th December, 2021

 at the

 Legends Bar

Goodna Services Club

Woogaroo Street. Goodna

 Commencing at 12 noon

 (food and drinks at bar prices)

 Please RSVP via email to [email protected]

or phone 0428 881 702 or 0417 700 531

Vendetta Veterans’ (Qld) Division

You’re invited to the Vendetta Veterans’ (Qld) Division Christmas Luncheon to be held on Sunday 5th December, 2021 at the Legends Bar Goodna Services Club Woogaroo Street. Goodna

Commencing at 12 noon (food and drinks at bar prices)

Please RSVP via email to [email protected]

or phone 0428 881 702 or 0417 700 531  before 1st December.