A new memorial was dedicated on the 18th. of November 2001.
Perched high on Mount Scott, overlooking both the township of Geraldton, some 400 kilometres north of Perth, and the Indian Ocean sits a magnificent new memorial to HMAS Sydney, and her crew, all 645 of whom were lost,
It is off this coast of Western Australia that both Sydney and the German Armed Merchant Raider Kormoran fought to the death over 61 years ago.
In Australia, there have long been moves to create a suitable memorial to mark the loss of both HMAS Sydney and all her company.
The Rotary Club of Geraldton initiated the building of this memorial, and on the 19th. of November 1998, on the anniversary of her loss, the ground on which this memorial was to rise was dedicated.
As the last strains of the Last Post echoed from Mount Scott, a flock of silver gulls flew overhead, heading out to sea, and the concept for the striking cupola of this memorial was conceived.
The memorial has several facets.
( a ) The main feature.
The cupola or dome which dominates the memorial, consists of 645 interlocking silver gulls, all fabricated from stainless steel, one gull for each man lost in Sydney.
This dome, 9 metres high, is supported by 7 pillars, one for each of the 7 seas.
The open filigree structure allows the light to filter through and fall on the Podium below.
At night, two ship’s lanterns, Port and Starboard, containing the eternal flame light up the curve of the dome.
( b ) The Podium.
The Podium design beneath the dome, is based on the nautical compass, and depicts the directional bearing of the battle between Sydney and Kormoran.
At its centre, the coastline of Western Australia is shown, it visually maps the approximate position of the fight with Kormoran.
Around the circumferance of the compass design are the words:
In memory of the men lost on HMAS Sydney November 19, 1941.
At the centre of the stone work, a ship’s propellor is positioned as the altar, and the formal place where wreaths may be layed as and when appropriate.
( c ) The Statue of a waiting woman.
A bronze figure of a waiting woman staring out to sea stands vigil, she represents the women, the families, all left behind, always watching, waiting for their loved ones to come home, but in the case of Sydney’s crew, the wait is unrewarded.
Bronze statue of Waiting Woman looking out to sea
Picture over the shoulder of The Waiting Woman at HMAS Sydney Memorial at Geraldton
( d ) The Wall of Remembrance.
Curved black granite walls grace the site, the names of all the 645 sailors lost in HMAS Sydney inscribed on them.
Wall of Remembrance
( e ) Stele Monument.
Placed close by the dome is a large Stele, representing the ship’s bow, it is most impressive as one takes in the sweep of the whole area.
Dedication and Lighting of Eternal Flame.
This monument was dedicated on the 18th. of November 2001, and on the next day, the 60th. anniversary of the loss of Sydney, the Eternal Flame was lit.
78 men from Kormoran’s crew of 393 died in this battle, which recorded the Royal Australian Navy’s greatest loss in a single engagement, all 645 of HMAS Sydney’s crew perished.
Even at this distance in time from her sinking on the 19th. of November 1941, we still do not know the whole story about her sinking, or where she finally came to rest in the depths of the Indian Ocean.
This mystery may never be solved.