Defence remembers fallen sailor

Defence Connect

Defence recently re-dedicated the remains of Able Seaman Thomas Welsby Clark to the War Graves at Geraldton Cemetery in Western Australia, having lost his life at 21 following his service on board the HMAS Sydney II over eighty years ago.

Able Seaman Clark, formerly referred to as the HMAS Sydney II unknown sailor, was identified in 2021 following extensive DNA research. Aged just 21, Able Seaman Clark’s remains were discovered in a raft off Christmas Island three months after the ship was lost.

The re-dedication service for Able Seaman Clark was attended by his nephew Colin Clark, who travelled from Queensland.

According to Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Matt Keogh, the re-dedication ceremony honoured Able Seaman Clark and all those 644 who lost their lives aboard the HMAS Sydney II, which was sunk following a battle with the HSK Kormoran.

Able Seaman Clark and his fellow crew members made the ultimate sacrifice in service to Australia. Today, we remember them and pay tribute to the families that were left behind when HMAS Sydney II was tragically sunk,” MIN Keogh said.

The HMAS Sydney II was sunk 200 kilometres west of Steep Point in Western Australia.

“In youth, and strength, and loyalty, Thomas Clark gave everything we can ever hope to give – his sacrifice for our safety.”

The identification process required DNA specialists as well as forensic pathology, dentistry, anthropology, archaeology and history experts, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan confirmed.

“This was a massive undertaking, spearheaded by the Sea Power Centre. I commend everyone involved,” VADM Noonan said.

The Australian Federal Police supported in the identification of Able Seaman Clark.

“The AFP is honoured to have assisted with the DNA identification of one of Australia’s fallen heroes. This would have been impossible without the dedicated work of the Royal Australian Navy and team of forensic specialists over an 80-year long investigation,” Associate Professor Jodie Ward, head of the AFP National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons said.

“This is an example of how advancements in forensic science can provide fresh hope for previously unsolvable cases, help answer long-standing questions, and reunite families with those they have lost.”



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