Commemoration for AB Thomas Welsby Clark and crew of HMAS Sydney (II)
Photo: Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, Commander Maritime Border Command Rear Admiral Justin Jones and Lieutenant Commander Jared Webb salute as the Last Post is played at the memorial service to commemorate Able Seaman Thomas Welsby Clark (inset) and the rest of the crew of HMAS Sydney (II), which was sunk off the coast of Western Australia on 19 November 1941. Photo by Petty Officer Bradley Darvill.
The ceremony honoured all 645 men who lost their lives after the Australian ship was sunk during World War II.
Months after the sinking of HMAS Sydney (II), the body of an unidentified sailor washed up on the shore of Christmas Island in a life raft.
For years, Able Seaman Clark’s unidentified body remained in an unmarked grave on the island until it was exhumed in 2006 and DNA samples taken.
Previously referred to as the HMAS Sydney (II) unknown sailor, Able Seaman Clark was formally identified after extensive DNA research in 2021.
Able Seaman Clark will forever represent his shipmates who lost their lives on that fateful night of 19 November 1941.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh said Able Seaman Clark and his fellow crew members made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Australia.
“We remember them and pay tribute to the families who were left behind when HMAS Sydney (II) was tragically sunk,” Mr Keogh said.
“I would like to thank the Christmas Island community for affording Able Seaman Clark the dignity he deserved and supporting the search for his resting place.”
Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Mark Hammond said that for a ship the size of HMAS Sydney (II), which was so widely admired across the country, to be lost with all hands was simply unfathomable.
“I thank the Christmas Island community for the care and respect they provided to a very brave sailor on his journey home,” Vice Admiral Hammond said.
Senator for the Northern Territory and Christmas and Cocos Keeling Islands Malarndirri McCarthy said that as a Yanyuwa Garrwa woman, the commemoration was very sacred and the death of a loved one in war was a huge price to pay for family, the community and the nation.
“Through the story of Able Seaman Clark, we remember all of those who lost their lives making the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country,” she said.
Lest We Forget.