The Rest is Silence – In Memory of HMAS Sydney

The Rest Is Silence – Lest We Forget

On 19 November 1941 during World War II, HMAS Sydney was involved in a mutually destructive engagement with the German auxiliary cruiser Kormoran. The Sydney was lost with all hands (645 in all). Most of the German crew from the Kormoran survived. I have seen some of the lifeboats the German crew used when rescued off the coast near Carnarvon.

The wrecks of both ships were lost until 2008: HMAS Sydney was found on 17 March, five days after her adversary.

The purpose of today’s post is to appreciate the concept of the memorial dedicated to HMAS Sydney through the pictures we took during our visit to Geraldton back in November 2020:

The main approach to the HMAS Sydney memorial
The “Dome of Souls” Each seagull depicted represents one of the 645 persons that lost their lives.
Beneath the Dome of Souls – Seagulls were used, because during the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the Sydney, seagulls flew overhead at the exact moment the ceremony began.
One of the honour boards dedicated to those who lost their lives with the sinking of HMAS Sydney
Our youngest son, Jonathon looking towards the representative bow of the Sydney
The Lady looking towards where the engagement happened at sea. This statue was put on the exact alignment of the sea battle, a number of years before the wrecks were found!
Looking over the Pool of Remembrance, towards the Port of Geraldton
The Pool of Remembrance depicting the exact location of where the Sydney sank off the coast of Western Australia

Memorials are important because they remind us not only of who was lost regardless of whether friend or foe, but the futility and inevitably, of war. It also reminds us of the tough decisions leaders need to make when committing to a course of action without a guaranteed outcome. Australia has a war or Anzac memorial in every town throughout its length and breadth for this very reason. Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

Some of the wars Anzacs have fought in have been the major conflicts in modern times: WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam and of course those wars since then we now watch live on TV.

It would seem, for us, there is unfortunately a “grey war” being fought right now with a certain aggressor. We have taken a key stance on a number of issues and it hasn’t been well received. Diplomacy appears to be off the table at this point in time, but interestingly enough may come back onto the table once someone realises they have underestimated the capabilities we have.

If you want to understand what is at the very heart of an Australian, the RSLWA puts it best: Anzac is that single word so powerful in the Australian vocabulary that it can bring a tear to the eye, a lump in the throat and a feeling of pride. A word that brings to mind those other words so uniquely Australian that had their origin in the trenches of Gallipoli in 1915 – Cobber, Digger, Fair Dinkum, True Blue, Mate.

As the Sydney memorial says: “The Rest is Silence.” War is a price too high to pay.

29 Comments on “The Rest is Silence – In Memory of HMAS Sydney”

  1. Thank you this was beautiful I had a hard time reading it I came back from the eye doctors wanted to meet up with the surgeon I have to have two cataracts removed very soon and so but your stories are always good very well put together I enjoy your wisdom thank you so much

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your lovely comments, as always. I am sorry that you are having such trouble with your eyes. My mum had both cataracts removed late last year. She was extremely happy with the procedure and her life is so much better as a result. I wish you all the best and will be thinking of you in the days ahead 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never know Australians had a fight with Germans. So the German cruiser traveled all the way to the shore of Australia? Wow, there are so much one doesn’t know about the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the Germans during WWII were conducting raids in Australian waters on a regular basis as well as laying mine fields. The Kormoran was in the process of heading south to lay mines off the coast of where I live, when it detected wireless activity from the Sydney, and the rest as they say, is history!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sean – this was a moving post. Both my parents were in WW2 (my Mom was an army nurse who, believe it or not almost married an Aussie). I always heard war stories related in hushed and solemn voices that were tinged with fear and sadness. I grew up knowing that war was to be avoided at all costs.

    I did click on the grey war link and the article was fascinating. A very informative read. Thank you for this post Sean.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comments, Rita. I think you would have made a good Aussie! I can certainly appreciate those stories you were told. I just hope the younger generations do not have to experience such fear and sadness. Understanding the grey war, puts a lot of things into context right now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your comments. We spent a long time there that day, because you can’t help but reflect on each element that makes up the memorial site, and the dome in particular. It’s symbolism is both thoughtful and breathtaking.


  4. I love this post Sean and I think we should all remember those lost in wars, and what they fought for. We took a trip to Normandy to honour the D-day 75th Anniversary not so long ago, and we had such amazing and interesting chats with the few vets that were still around.

    Hubby used to go every year as a London Black Cab Driver taking The Vets, along with a fleet of cabbies 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your appreciation of the post and sharing these experiences, Caz. I am really glad you were able to get to Normandy. That’s awesome re hubby and the fleet of cabbies. I was a colour sergeant once upon a time and I used to carry the unit’s colours on Anzac Day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Good to know that these lost lives are not forgotten. My great Uncle died in a navel battle off the coast of Chile in World War 1. 1,600 lost their lives. There is a commemorative site in Chile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing what happened to your great uncle, Anne. I did a search on the battle – such tragedy. Yes, it is always good to know that lost lives are not forgotten.


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