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HMAS Sydney II Commission of Inquiry

Errata for the Final Report
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1 Summary xi   On 24 November MS TROCAS recovered 25 German sailors; on 26 November SS KOOLINDA recovered 31 sailors, and MS CENTAUR recovered two lifeboats containing 62 men; and on 27 November HMAS YANDRA recovered 72 sailors, and two lifeboats reached the shore north of Carnarvon, where survivors were recovered. On 28 November HT AQUITANIA informed the authorities she had recovered 26 sailors from a lifeboat; she had not broken radio silence to inform them until she reached Wilsons Promontory en route to Sydney. On 24 November MS TROCAS recovered 25 German sailors; on 26 November SS KOOLINDA recovered 31 sailors, and MS CENTAUR recovered a lifeboat containing 62 men; and on 27 November HMAS YANDRA recovered 72 sailors, and two lifeboats reached the shore north of Carnarvon, where survivors were recovered. On 28 November HT AQUITANIA informed the authorities she had recovered 26 sailors from a lifeboat; she had not broken radio silence to inform them until she reached Wilsons Promontory en route to Sydney.
This is based on NAA.026.0348, a signal from the CENTAUR, which must be accepted as the most accurate contemporaneous information.
1   XIX 3 CAPT Detmers stated that the engagement occurred at 26°S 111°E. This was verified by the finding of the wreck of SYDNEY at 26°14’45”S and 11°12’55”E and the wreck of KORMORAN at 26°06’32”S and 11°04’21”E. The wrecks are about 12 nautical miles apart. CAPT Detmers stated that the engagement occurred at 26°S 111°E. This was verified by the finding of the wreck of SYDNEY at 26°14’45”S and 111°12’55”E and the wreck of KORMORAN at 26°06’32”S and 111°04’21”E. The wrecks are about 12 nautical miles apart.
1 2 19 2.15 Figure 2.2 shows a cross-section of the general arrangement of the 6-inch Mark XIII mounting. Figure 2.2 shows a cross-section of the general arrangement of the 6-inch Mark XXIII mounting.
1 2 20 2.15 Figure 2.2 General arrangement of the 6-inch Mark X111 mounting Figure 2.2 General arrangement of the 6-inch Mark XXIII mounting
1 2 22 2.19 The order to load was ‘All guns load, load, load’. Once the order was given, it took less than 10 seconds to load the guns. The shell was placed with the cordite on the gun-loading tray, ready to be rammed home. After the shell and cordite had been rammed home, the breach worker closed the breach, put the firing tube in and closed the interceptor switch. This last step allowed current to flow to the firing circuits and also caused a light in the director control tower to illuminate, showing that the gun was in a condition to fire. The order to load was ‘All guns load, load, load’. Once the order was given, it took less than 10 seconds to load the guns. The shell was placed with the cordite on the gun-loading tray, ready to be rammed home. After the shell and cordite had been rammed home, the breech worker closed the breech, put the firing tube in and closed the interceptor switch. This last step allowed current to flow to the firing circuits and also caused a light in the director control tower to illuminate, showing that the gun was in a condition to fire.
1 2 45 2.88 two 11-inch hand-held signal lamps stowed in lockers on the flag deck. two 10-inch hand-held signal lamps stowed in lockers on the flag deck.
1 2 52 2.109 The Seagull and the Walrus were similar aircraft, the main difference being the Walrus’ engine had to be hand-cocked while the Seagull’s engine could be started automatically from the cockpit. The Seagull and the Walrus were similar aircraft, the main difference being the Walrus needed the propeller to be hand cocked to start the engine while the Seagull’s engine could be started automatically from the cockpit.
1 2 73 2.16 On 1 and 2 September she exercised off Sydney. On 3 September she sailed for Melbourne, arriving on 7 September. The First Naval Member, VADM Sir Guy Royle KCB CMG RN, came aboard to inspect the ship on 11 September. SYDNEY spent a week in local waters, including time alongside at Westernport. On 19 September she sailed for Fremantle, escorting a convoy, and arrived on 25 September. On 1 and 2 September she exercised off Sydney. On 3 September she sailed for Melbourne, arriving on 7 September. The First Naval Member, VADM Sir Guy Royle KCB CMG RN, came aboard to inspect the ship on 11 September. SYDNEY spent a week in local waters, including time spent anchored off Stony Point, Westernport. On 19 September she sailed for Fremantle, escorting a convoy, and arrived on 25 September.
1 2 74 2.161 Footnote 349: NAA.014.0129; NAA.014.0195; NAA.014.0162; NAA.013.0116; NAA.013.0085 and NAA.013.0052 Footnote 349: NAA.014.0129; NAA.014.0195; AWM.002.0014; NAA.014.0162; NAA.013.0116; NAA.013.0085 and NAA.013.0052
1 2 77 2.166 Footnote 355: NAA.014.0129; NAA.014.0195; NAA.014.0162; NAA.013.0116; NAA.013.0085; NAA.013.0052 Footnote 355: NAA.014.0129; NAA.014.0195; AWM.002.0014; NAA.014.0162; NAA.013.0116; NAA.013.0085; NAA.013.0052
1 3 104 3.21 CAPT Detmers had joined the Reichsmarine (as it was then known) on 1 April 1921. On 28 September 1934 he was appointed commanding offficer of Torpedo Boat G11. He appears to have gained considerable experience in torpedo attacks through exercises. In 1936 he served as first lieutenant on the destroyer LEBERECHT MAASS. He was appointed commanding offficer of the destroyer HERMANN SCHOEMANN on 26 October 1938, retaining that command until July 1940, except for about two months in 1939, when he worked with Naval War Staff. CAPT Detmers had joined the Reichsmarine (as it was then known) on 1 April 1921. On 28 September 1934 he was appointed commanding
officer of Torpedo Boat G11. He appears to have gained considerable experience in torpedo attacks through exercises. In 1936 he served as first lieutenant on the destroyer LEBERECHT MAASS. He was appointed commanding officer of the destroyer HERMANN SCHOEMANN on 26 October 1938, retaining that command until July 1940, except for about two months in 1939, when he worked with Naval War Staff.
1 4 184 4.14 Figure 4.3 Notation - HMAS Kormoran Figure 4.3 Notation - HSKKormoran
1 4 185 4.16 On 31 December 1940 and again on 7 January 1941 the Australian Ambassador to Japan, Sir R Craigie, protested to the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs about the provisioning of a German raider, which had recently shelled Nauru, by the German supply ship KULMERLAND, operating out of Japanese ports. He also advised the Vice Minister that the raider appeared to be disguised as a Japanese vessel. On 31 December 1940 and again on 7 January 1941 the British Ambassador to Japan, Sir R Craigie, protested to the Japanese Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs about the provisioning of a German raider, which had recently shelled Nauru, by the German supply ship KULMERLAND, operating out of Japanese ports. He also advised the Vice Minister that the raider appeared to be disguised as a Japanese vessel.
1 6 296 6.20 On 27 November 1941 Mr WE Parry (a New Zealand government minister) wrote to CAPT Bevan, telling him he was departing for Singapore to attend a conference held by the Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet. On 27 November 1941, CDRE WE Parry, CB, RN, the then Chief of Naval Staff of the the Royal New Zealand, wrote to CAPT Bevan, telling him he was departing for Singapore to attend a conference held by the Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet.
1 8 338 8.7 2nd dot-point - On 25 November two lifeboats were found ashore 57 and 70 miles north of Geraldton. 2nd dot-point - On 25 November two lifeboats were found ashore 40 and 50 miles north of Carnarvon (NAA.096.0055 at 0059 - see footnote 97 on page 358).
1 8 358 8.40 The notes of the District Naval Officer Western Australia record at 2159H ‘S.O.(I) reports Raider Captain puts position of action at 20°38’S 111°East. HMAS “SYDNEY” last seen on fire steering south five notes’. The notes of the District Naval Officer Western Australia record at 2159H ‘S.O.(I) reports Raider Captain puts position of action at 20°32’S 111°East. HMAS “SYDNEY” last seen on fire steering south five knots ’.
1 8 385 8.74 • on 7 January 1942 by Major McQuil in company with Capt Hehir, an Army intelligence officer. • on 7 January 1942 by Major McQuie in company with Capt Hehir, an Army intelligence officer.
2 9 2 9.4 The ‘dictionary’ account prepared by CAPT Detmers and LCDR Foerster in the prisoner of war camp.3 In a dictionary CAPT Detmers placed pencil dots under particular letters. When the marked letters were put together they constituted an account of the battle in plain German language. It seems the dictionary was smuggled past Allied authorities. After CAPT Detmers’ death, his widow gave the dictionary to a nephew, Dr Hans Jantzen, who in turn gave it to Dr Barbara Poniewierski, who in 1991 gave it to the Western Australian Maritime Museum. It was deciphered and translated by CAPT PG Hore RN Rtd. The ‘dictionary’ account prepared by CAPT Detmers and LCDR Foerster in the prisoner of war camp.3 In a dictionary CAPT Detmers placed pencil dots under particular letters. When the marked letters were put together they constituted an account of the battle in plain German language. When CAPT Detmers returned to Germany, the dictionary was included in his possessions, and was carried with him past Allied authorities. After his death, CAPT Detmers' widow gave the dictionary to a nephew, Dr Hans Jantzen. Dr Jantzen loaned the dictionary to David Mearns, and it was later deciphered and translaterd by CAPT PG Hore RN Rtd. A copy of the dictionary is held by the Western Australian Maritime Museum. The orginal dictionary remains in the possession of Dr Jantzen.
2 9 14 9.18 CAPT Detmers gave the order to abandon ship at about 2300H. KORMORAN sank at about 2359H, exploding from scuttling charges shortly thereafter. CAPT Detmers gave the order to abandon ship at about 2359H. KORMORAN sank at about 0100H, exploding from scuttling charges shortly thereafter.
2 9 15 9.22 The first account is likely to be the so-called dictionary account, which, as noted, found its way to the Western Australian Maritime Museum. The first account is likely to be the so-called dictionary account.
2 9 16 9.22 The third account is contained in the notebook seized from CAPT Detmers on 18 January 1945. (CAPT Detmers and others had escaped from the camp at Dhurringile on the night of 10–11 January 1945 but were recaptured on 18 January 1945.) The third account is contained in the notebook seized from CAPT Detmers on 18 January 1945. (CAPT Detmers and others had escaped from the camp at Dhurringile on the night of 10–11 January 1945. CAPT Detmers was recaptured on 18 January 1945.)
2 9 30 9.3 SYDNEY being hit on the starboard side forward by a torpedo from KORMORAN SYDNEY being hit on the port side forward by a torpedo from KORMORAN
2 9 41 9.41 In the late 1990s or early 2000s LEUT Greter said he was ordered back on board  KORMORAN after the battle to discharge the starboard underwater torpedo in case it exploded in its tube, potentially killing KORMORAN’s survivors, who were abandoning ship. In the late 1990s or early 2000s LEUT Greter said he was ordered back into KORMORAN after the battle to discharge the starboard underwater torpedo in case it exploded in its tube, potentially killing KORMORAN’s survivors, who were abandoning ship.
2 10 123 0815H entry DNOWA signalled the Naval Board, ‘Aircraft reports life boat in position 024° 52’ south 111° 09’ east at 2307Z 24. Message Broadcast to GBM8’. DNOWA signalled the Naval Board, ‘Aircraft reports life boat in position 024° 52’ south 111° 09’ east at 2307Z 24. Message Broadcast to GBMS’.
2 12 246 12.2 Deterioration caused by the presence of rusticles associated with the degradation of steel has occurred, and there has also been shrinking of the wooden decking, although the corking material appears undamaged. Deterioration caused by the presence of rusticles associated with the degradation of steel has occurred, and there has also been shrinking of the wooden decking, although the caulking material appears undamaged.
2 12 250 12.23 Figure 12.54 shows the approximate final positions of the 4-inch guns. Three of SYDNEY’s 4-inch guns (P1, P2 and S2) are still fixed to their mounts on the gun deck, as shown in Figures 12.55 to 12.57. The forward port side 4-inch gun (P1) has material wrapped around its mount; the material is thought to be part of the aft funnel. P1 is bearing approximately 135° port, with an elevation of about 15°. The aft port side 4-inch gun (P2) is shown to be at an elevation of about 80° and on a bearing of about 125°. The aft starboard 4-inch gun was bearing approximately 135° to starboard with an elevation of about 15°. The fourth 4-inch gun was found in the debris field. Figure 12.58 shows the fifth gun mount. Figure 12.54 shows the approximate final positions of the 4-inch guns. Three of SYDNEY’s 4-inch guns (P1, P2 and S2) are still fixed to their mounts on the gun deck, as shown in Figures 12.55 to 12.57. The forward port side 4-inch gun (P1) has material wrapped around its mount; the material is thought to be part of the aft funnel. P1 is bearing approximately 135° port, with an elevation of about 15°. The aft port side 4-inch gun (P2) is shown to be at an elevation of about 80° and on a bearing of about 125°. The aft starboard 4-inch gun was bearing approximately 135° to starboard with an elevation of about 15°. The fourth 4-inch gun was found in the debris field. Figure 12.58 shows the fourth gun mount.
2 13 307 13.8 Figure 13.4 is an enlargement of part of the photograph shown here as
Figure 13.3. Figure 13.5 is a further close-up. What Mr Sheldon-Collins
took to be ‘three bollards’ are not bollards at all: they are a depth charge
in its launch chute and two spare depth charges, one on each side of the
chute.
Figure 13.4 is an enlargement of part of the photograph shown here as
Figure 13.3. Figure 13.5 is a further close-up. What Mr Sheldon-Collins
took to be ‘three bollards’ are not bollards at all: they are a depth charge in its launch chute and two smoke generators, used for producing a smoke screen.
2 18 374 18.1 Having been hit by KORMORAN’s torpedo, SYDNEY dropped astern and turned to port, passing behind KORMORAN. By the time she did so all eight of her 6-inch guns had been disabled. KORMORAN turned to port but SYDNEY was unable to fire any of her starboard torpedoes at KORMORAN. Thereafter she suffered a continuous barrage from all of KORMORAN’s guns that could bear, suffering at least forty-six 15-centimetre shell hits on her starboard side. By this time SYDNEY was on fire throughout substantial sections of the vessel, and she was taking water through openings resulting from the penetration of the 1 centimetre shells and the torpedo strike. Having been hit by KORMORAN’s torpedo, SYDNEY dropped astern and turned to port, passing behind KORMORAN. By the time she did so all eight of her 6-inch guns had been disabled. KORMORAN turned to port but SYDNEY was unable to fire any of her starboard torpedoes at KORMORAN. Thereafter she suffered a continuous barrage from all of KORMORAN’s guns that could bear, suffering at least forty-six 15-centimetre shell hits on her starboard side. By this time SYDNEY was on fire throughout substantial sections of the vessel, and she was taking water through openings resulting from the penetration of the 15 centimetre shells and the torpedo strike.
2 18 374 18.3 Figures 18.1 to 18.6 show the combined effects of the eighty-seven 1 centimetre shells observed to have hit SYDNEY. The zones hatched orange have a high probability of being affected by the fragments and blasts resulting from the detonating 15-centimetre shells and the damage incurred as a result of the flight of the armour-piercing shells into the structure. Overlaid onto this damage are the regions directly affected by the torpedo (hatched in blue) and the areas vulnerable to, and mentioned by KORMORAN survivors as being hit by, the smallcalibre 20-millimetre and 3.7-centimetre shells (hatched in grey). Figures 18.1 to 18.6 show the combined effects of the eighty-seven 15 centimetre shells observed to have hit SYDNEY. The zones hatched orange have a high probability of being affected by the fragments and blasts resulting from the detonating 15-centimetre shells and the damage incurred as a result of the flight of the armour-piercing shells into the structure. Overlaid onto this damage are the regions directly affected by the torpedo (hatched in blue) and the areas vulnerable to, and mentioned by KORMORAN survivors as being hit by, the smallcalibre 20-millimetre and 3.7-centimetre shells (hatched in grey).
2 18 385 18.12 This explains why, if there were any survivors or if bodies did survive the sinking of SYDNEY, their remains were not recovered. It is of note that KORMORAN also lost 80 crew members by drowning when a life raft capsized while the ship was being abandoned. None of those bodies was ever sighted or recovered. This explains why, if there were any survivors or if bodies did survive the sinking of SYDNEY, their remains were not recovered. It is of note that KORMORAN also lost crew members by drowning when a life raft capsized while the ship was being abandoned. None of those bodies was ever sighted or recovered.
3 20 11 20.24 The finding of the wrecks and the fact that the location of the wrecks ‘reasonably corresponds with the “Detmers position” and … is almost exactly the same as that appearing in a signal sent by Navy Office on 28 November 1941’31 have done little to satisfy those who claimed CAPT Detmers lied about the position and the Navy covered up knowledge of the position. Those who proposed different positions for the location of the wrecks, such as the Abroholos Islands or Shark Bay, have adapted this new information to their own ends and carried on as
before, apparently impervious to the consequences for those theories of the establishment of the true location of the wrecks.
The finding of the wrecks and the fact that the location of the wrecks ‘reasonably corresponds with the “Detmers position” and … is almost exactly the same as that appearing in a signal sent by Navy Office on 28 November 1941’31 have done little to satisfy those who claimed CAPT Detmers lied about the position and the Navy covered up knowledge of the position. Those who proposed different positions for the location of the wrecks, such as the Abrolhos Islands or Shark Bay, have adapted this new information to their own ends and carried on as
before, apparently impervious to the consequences for those theories of the establishment of the true location of the wrecks.
3 21 18 21.16 Mr Montagu accepted that the location of SYDNEY is as plotted by the Finding Sydney Foundation—that is, 24°14’37”S 111°13’03”E. Mr Montagu accepted that the location of SYDNEY is as plotted by the Finding Sydney Foundation—that is, 26°14’37”S 111°13’03”E.
3 21 21 21.22 The document is an obvious fake for at least the following reasons:
• ‘Vizeaadmiral’ is misspelt by the inclusion of an extra letter a.
• The third sentence contains the English expression ‘mono phase’.
• The German Admiral’s name is misspelt: it should be ‘Schienwind’, not ‘Shiewind’.
• The heading should read ‘Deutsche’ not ‘Deutchen’.
The document is an obvious fake for at least the following reasons:
• ‘Vizeaadmiral’ is misspelt by the inclusion of an extra letter a.
• The third sentence contains the English expression ‘mono phase’.
• The German Admiral’s name is misspelt: it should be ‘Schniewind’, not ‘Schiewind’.
• The heading should read ‘Deutsche’ not ‘Deutschen’.
3 26 166-7 26.89 LS Mason’s account of the events he asserts occurred on 19 November 1941 is to be found in ‘Memoirs of R.W. Mason 1941–1981’, in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. LS Mason’s account of the events he asserts occurred on 19 November 1941 is to be found in ‘Memoirs of R.W. Mason 1941–1981’, in the National Library of Australia.
3 26 170 26.92 The interview was no deathbed interview. Mr Mason was interviewed sitting comfortably in an armchair. Much of the early part of the interview involved reading from a script he had apparently prepared. He went, however, much further in the interview than in his statement. In the interview he had LCDR McLachlan on the phone to CMDR Newman in Melbourne, the latter being the ‘director of signalscommunications’. Mr Mason suggests that at some time he was told of events. He then speculates that the senior Naval members, including members of the Naval Board, might have been told—and even perhaps Sir Frederick Sheddon, the Secretary of the Navy. The interview was no deathbed interview. Mr Mason was interviewed sitting comfortably in an armchair. Much of the early part of the interview involved reading from a script he had apparently prepared. He went, however, much further in the interview than in his statement. In the interview he had LCDR McLachlan on the phone to CMDR Newman in Melbourne, the latter being the ‘director of signalscommunications’. Mr Mason suggests that at some time he was told of events. He then speculates that the senior Naval members, including members of the Naval Board, might have been told—and even perhaps Sir Frederick Shedden, the then principal adviser to the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.
3 26 178 - dot point 5 26.95 LCDR McLachlan might have told CMDR Newman, who might have told his superior officers, who might have told the Naval Board, who might have told the Secretary of the Navy, Sir Frederick Sheddon. LCDR McLachlan might have told CMDR Newman, who might have told his superior officers, who might have told the Naval Board, who might have told Sir Frederick Shedden, the then principal adviser to the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.
3 27 189-90 27.9, 27.12   The source of Mr. Mongomery's assertions should also include a reference to SUBM.006.0079_R at 0097_R.
3 27 190 27.12 Pastor Wittwer (now deceased) had previously stated that Mr Grossmann told him he was the gunnery officer on KORMORAN and that in order to migrate to Australia he had taken the name of his brother, Waldemar Heinz Grossman, but that
his name was Gerhard Heinz Grossmann.
Pastor Wittwer (now deceased) had previously stated that Mr Grossmann told him he was the gunnery officer on KORMORAN and that in order to migrate to Australia he had taken the name of his brother, Waldemar Heinz Grossman, but that
his name was 'Gerhard Heinz Grossmann'.
3 27 190 27.12 On Anzac Day in 1997 Pastor Wittwer gave an address. He recounted a story allegedly initially told to him by a Gerhard Heinz Grossmann on 13 May 1951 whilst Pastor Wittwer was a chaplain in the Snowy Mountains. On Anzac Day in 1997 Pastor Wittwer gave an address. He recounted a story allegedly initially told to him by a 'Gerhard Heinz Grossmann' on 13 May 1951 whilst Pastor Wittwer was a chaplain in the Snowy Mountains.
3 28 239 28.1 On his arrival in Perth on 20 June 1942 Capt Snook was directed to report to COL Male, the Deputy Director of Medical Services in Perth. Col Adey was posted to the Army Hospital at Merredin, about 240 kilometres east of Perth. According to Capt Snook’s son, relying on Capt Snook’s diary, it was not until 10 November 1942 that Capt Snook marched into the Merriden Army camp, thus coming under the authority of Col Adey. On his arrival in Perth on 20 June 1942 Capt Snook was directed to report to COL Male, the Deputy Director of Medical Services in Perth. Col Adey was posted to the Army Hospital at Merredin, about 240 kilometres east of Perth. According to Capt Snook’s son, relying on Capt Snook’s diary, it was not until 10 November 1942 that Capt Snook marched into the Merredin Army camp, thus coming under the authority of Col Adey.
3 30 253 30.2 Those advancing these theories face a major difficulty. Unless there was an instruction given to the 305 survivors to conspire to hide the truth of the encounter and substitute for it an agreed German version of events that did not disclose the alleged ruse de guerre or other trick, the truth of the encounter would probably emerge. Those advancing these theories face a major difficulty. Unless there was an instruction given to the 314 German survivors by CAPT Detmersto conspire to hide the truth of the encounter and substitute for it an agreed German version of events that did not disclose the alleged ruse de guerre or other trick, the truth of the encounter would probably emerge.
3 30 284 30.74 Any doubts about the speed with which KORMORAN could decamouflage and simultaneously hoist the German ensign are removed by the independent evidence of CH Hill-Willis, First Mate of AGNITA, a ship sunk by KORMORAN in March 1941: Any doubts about the speed with which KORMORAN could decamouflage and simultaneously hoist the German ensign are removed by the independent evidence of CAPT Hill-Willis, First Mate of AGNITA, a ship sunk by KORMORAN in March 1941:
3 30 285 30.75 The evidence makes it clear that the German battle ensign was flown before KORMORAN opened fire. KORMORAN’s crew had the capacity to hoist the ensign and lower the Dutch flag simultaneously and with great rapidity. There was a crew member dedicated to that task at each of the two masts on which the Dutch and German flags were separately flown. CH Hill-Willis witnessed the capacity of the KORMORAN crew to perform this task and simultaneously de-camouflage. The evidence makes it clear that the German battle ensign was flown before KORMORAN opened fire. KORMORAN’s crew had the capacity to hoist the ensign and lower the Dutch flag simultaneously and with great rapidity. There was a crew member dedicated to that task at each of the two masts on which the Dutch and German flags were separately flown. CAPT Hill-Willis witnessed the capacity of the KORMORAN crew to perform this task and simultaneously de-camouflage.