- Clark, Bryan
- History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Sydney II
- December 1989 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Why is all the documentation related to this inquest not retained in any known archive or file? To whom were the inquest findings forwarded in 1942?
3. Who removed the headstone from the unknown sailor’s grave on Christmas Island? Who initially provided the headstone and what were the words engraved on its surface? Old Christmas Island residents claim the headstone disappeared soon after the completion of World War II, a local belief being that the RAN was in some manner involved in its removal. Is this true? If so, for what reason was the headstone removed?
Kim Beazley: “There is no evidence that the Royal Australian Navy had any involvement with the removal of a headstone from Christmas Island after World War II. If such a stone existed, it may well have disappeared through neglect during the period of Japanese occupation. It should be noted that at the time of its relief in October, 1945, Christmas Island was administered from Singapore and the relief operation was mounted from there. The operation was conducted by a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Rother. There was no RAN involvement. Our records also indicate that no RAN vessel visited the island before the end of 1945.”
4. The widow (Mrs Jay Smith) of the Christmas Island harbour master in 1942, Captain J. Smith, claims her husband, of his own volition, brought with him from Christmas Island parts of the Carley Float which he personally delivered to the Navy Office at Fremantle on Saturday, February 28, 1942. Why is there in RAN records no mention of this delivery? What became of the Carley float parts brought to the navy Office at that time?
5. Who was the manufacturer of Carley floats that were supplied to RAN ships in 1941-1942?
Kim Beazley: “The Department is unable to provide any further information on the Carley Float washed ashore at Christmas Island… Documentation concerning suppliers of Carley floats and canvas footwear to the RAN should be held by Australian Archives, most likely in their Brighton (Victoria) repository…”
6. With respect to the ‘canvas shoe’ found in the Carley Float that was alleged ‘branded either McCOWAN or McEWEN, also PTY, followed by a crown and/or a broad arrow,’ was an investigation ever conducted by the RAN in an attempt to identify a shoe manufacturer of either name (or similar) whose products included footwear of the type described by Captain G. Denne of SS Islander, in his official report of February 25, 1942?
Who were the suppliers of footwear to the RAN at that time?
7. What became of the Carley float, the canvas shoe, a pair of boots, the boiler suit, pieces of metal, etc., following the burial of the unknown seaman ‘with full military honours’, as recorded by Sergeant J. Brown of the Christmas Island platoon of the Singapore Volunteers?
8. With respect to the HMAS Sydney – HSK Kormoran action in 1941, how many files are there still under protection of the Official Secrets Act? To what matters do these allude? When will these secret files next be considered for release to researchers?
M. Brennan, on behalf of the Regional Director, wrote from the Victorian office of Australian Archives, in 1989: “We have undertaken a preliminary search of our records…without success, with regards to (the) manufacturers and suppliers of Carley Floats to the RAN prior to the sinking of Sydney, (the) producers and suppliers of canvas footwear to the RAN, (and the) inquest on Christmas Island with respect to an unknown body washed ashore on February 6, 1942… Quite an extensive search may be involved as we have checked the obvious possible locations of relevant records…”
Ian Smith, of the Australian War Memorial’s (Canberra) Information Services, wrote on April 18, 1989: “…Regarding Carley float parts delivered to the Navy Office, Fremantle, and an alleged headstone on Christmas Island. The Memorial holds the war diaries of the Naval Office, Fremantle (HMAS Leeuwin).”
“…Unfortunately, the entries for the period 16 September, 1940 to 7 March, 1942, are missing from this file. I checked the entries for the period 8 March to 31 December, 1942, but I was unable to locate any reference to Carley Float parts. A check was also made of the following series for any relevant records, but without success: G. Hermon Gill, papers of the Official Historian (ref. AWM 69). Written records (ref. AWM 54). Items – 505 Naval, 622 Australia.”