Losses and Survivors
Survivors from the "Kormoran" in one of the ship's lifeboats.
The total company of 645 were lost from "Sydney, "whilst 318 survived from "Konnoran."
Over the intervening years many have posed the question "how could this be?" In the course of the War at Sea over 1939-1945, "Sydney" was the only warship to be sunk by an Armed Merchant Raider. It was unusual for a Naval ship ( other than a Submarine) to be sunk with a total loss of her Company.
To quote Winston Churchill from his "Second World War" " At six o'clock, after the "Bismarck" had fired her fifth salvo, the "Hood" was rent in twain by a mighty explosion. A few minutes later she had vanished beneath the waves amidst a vast pall of smoke. But from a crew of 1,500 - there were 3 survivors.
When 'Repulse," and "Prince of Wales," were both sunk by Japanese aircraft off Singapore, 2,000 were rescued from a total of 3,000 on board these two ships.
In the Pacific war, at the Coral Sea and Midway actions, the Japanese Navy lost 5 Carriers, "Shoho," "Akagi," 'Kaga," "Soryu," and "Hiryu," and the U.S.S."Yorktown," was sunk, but from all these ships many survivors were rescued.
I had the personal experience of being sunk in a Naval night action, at the Battle of Savo Island, on the 9th. of August 1942. The Japanese Navy, on this night, achieved a major victory, sinking 4 heavy Cruisers, H.M.A.S. "Canberra," and US ships, "Quincy," "Astoria," and "Vincennes." But, from each of these ships, crewmen survived, to be rescued, and for the majority of them, to fight again.
I reiterate, it was very unusual for a Naval warship to be lost with every soul on board!!
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