Bitter Victory: The Death of HMAS Sydney
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On November 11, 1941, HMAS Sydney sailed from the port of Fremantle, Western Australia, on a routine escort mission. Though scheduled to return on the afternoon of November 20, it failed to arrive. Three days later, the Australian cruiser was instructed to break wireless silence. There was no response. The following morning, November 24, search aircraft were dispatched. They were unable to locate the ship. That afternoon however, the Navy Office learned that German naval men had been recovered from a raft in the Sunda Strait-Fremantle Shipping lane. They claimed their ship had been sunk by a cruiser. In the days that followed, more German survivors were found, and all told the same story: they had been involved in an action with a Perth Class cruiser on November 19 and their ship, the auxiliary cruiser Kormoran, was set on fire and had to be abandoned. The cruiser they were involved with, later identified as Sydney, was last sighted as a glow on the horizon. Sydney and its entire complement of 645 officers and men were never seen again. The disappearance of Sydney has baffled the Australian government, historians and the public alike for over fifty years, and although many attempts have been made to unravel the sequence of events, three basic questions have always remained: Why did Sydney sink? How did it disappear without a trace? And why were there no survivors? Wesley Olson's book, Bitter Victory, re-opens the case. By examining every piece of available evidence and carefully reconstructing the event through reports and eye-witness accounts, Olson has produced both a compelling narrative and the most persuasive explanation yet for the tragedy of HMAS Sydney.
Olson joined the Western Australian Government Railways in 1977 and completed training to become a locomotive driver in 1983. He left Westrail in 1995 to join the National Rail Corporation. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.