House of Representatives Committees

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

The loss of HMAS Sydney

Table 6.1:

People and Debris Recovered after the Engagement, November 19411

Date DescriptionFound by At:
23 November 194126 Germans in a raft HT Aquitania 2435'S, 11057'E (approx. 100 nm off the coast of Carnarvon)
24 November 194125 Germans in a raft MV Trocas 2406'S, 11140'E2 (120 nm North West of Carnarvon).
24 November 1941Lifeboat with men in it. Sighted by an aircraft, and picked up by HMAS Yandra on 27 November (see separate entry) 2452'S, 11105'E
24 November 1941Lifeboat containing 46 men Sighted by aircraft 17-Mile Well, Quobba Station.
25 November 1941Lifeboat containing 57 men, landed. Sighted by aircraft Red Bluff, North of Carnarvon.
26 November 19411 lifeboat3 containing 62 from the Kormoran (61 Germans and 1 Chinese)4 SS Centaur 2430'S, 11135'E
26 November 194131 Germans in a lifeboat Koolinda 2407'S, 11247'E
27 November 1941Lifeboat containing 70 Germans and 2 Chinese HMAS Yandra. MV Herstein was also in the vicinity but was ordered to stand clear while Yandra picked up survivors5 2459'S, 11222'E
27 November 1941RAN type life belt HMAS Wyrallah In vicinity of 2422'S, 11049'E
27 November 1941British life belt Evagoras 2306'S, 11047'E6
28 November 1941Foreign life belt, 2 foreign type carley floats, and 1 dead German HMAS Wyrallah In vicinity of 2410'S, 11054'E
28 November 1941RAN type carley float; a green box resembling a dog box was also sighted; a linseed oil patch was also noted in the area. HMAS Heros 2407'S, 11058'E
28 November 1941Oil patch Sighted by a Catalina and investigated by Wyrallah but not located 2349'S, 11010'E


1    Compiled from Australian Archives, Guide to Commonwealth Records No 3: The Sinking of HMAS Sydney; Montgomery, op cit., Winter op cit., Frame, op cit., Hardstaff, Submission, p. 76.

2    This position is disputed by CMDR Hardstaff who believes the correct longitude to be 110 40'E. CMDR Hardstaff's correction has been accepted by a number of other researchers. Hardstaff, Submission, p. 76.

3    There is confusion in some reports on the number of life boats. While the Germans were discovered in one boat, and put under tow, it started to leak. The captain of the Centaur then had two life boats lowered, and the Germans transferred into them. Hence, reports of the Centaur with two boats in tow as she approached port (See Winter, op cit., pp. 166-168).

4    There is also confusion on the exact number of men rescued from the Kormoran. Estimates range from 315 to 317 crew, and three of four Chinese who were on board. The confusion appears around the figures for Centaur and Yandra. Winter's estimate is for 316 Germans and 3 Chinese crew rescued, with 61 Germans and 1 Chinese on Centaur, and 70 Germans and 2 Chinese on Yandra (p. 254). Frame is less exact, indicating that 'HMAS Yandra recovered a further seventy German sailors' (p. 8) with an overall total of 314 Germans and 3 Chinese recorded (Frame, p. 95). Richard Summerrell indicates there were 315 Germans and 3 Chinese rescued: 60 survivors picked up by Centaur and 72 by Yandra (of whom 2 were Chinese) (Australian Archives Guide, pp. 47, 127).

5    See Winter, op cit., p. 170.

6 Hardstaff gives a slightly different position for this, namely 2406'S, 11049'E (Submission, p. 76). Another submission has challenged this position totally, (see Templeton, Transcript, p. 474).

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