The German Kriegsmarine (navy) men were frank and truthful

This is a follow-up to my post yesterday about the sinking of the HMAS Sydney by sustained heavy fire from the German raider Kormoran. Because it was a converted freighter, there seems to be a common assumption that the Kormoran was lightly armed. It in fact deployed very extensive and heavy armament, all of which was very effective at the close range incautiously offered by the Captain of HMAS Sydney. Above is the flag the Kormoran fought under.

The exact location of the HMAS Sydney was given to Australian authorities seven days after the ship's sinking. The captain of the German raider, the Kormoran, which had fired on the Sydney off the West Australian coast, gave the co-ordinates of the battle to a Royal Australian Navy officer after German survivors were picked up at sea. "I told him immediately, as I had made up my mind to do: 111 degrees E by 26 degrees 34' S," Captain Theodor Detmers wrote in his book The Raider Kormoran. "I knew that the search would now take place where it would be most effective and perhaps save the lives of more of my men."

But it appears that Captain Detmers was not believed, neither in November 1941 when he made his initial report, nor when his book was published, first in German and then in English in 1959. Instead, it took 66 years before searchers found the Sydney's wreck where Captain Detmers had pinpointed, 150km off the coast in 2468m of water. All 645 crew members of the Sydney perished. About 80 of the Kormoran's crew were killed and 317 survived.

The wreck of the Sydney was found this week, near the Kormoran, as the result of a taxpayer-funded search by the Finding Sydney Foundation. Yesterday, the search vessel Geosounder returned to the WA port of Geraldton after the successful mission.


An interesting excerpt from another report on the subject:

On the night of January 10, 1945, Detmers and 19 others escaped into the countryside. He was on the run for eight days before being arrested in Shepparton. When he was searched, authorities found a small, coded notebook. It was immediately seized and sent for decryption and analysis. What the authorities did not know was that Detmers had left behind a small brown German-English dictionary at the camp, in which he had used a pencil to put faint dots under letters on each page, giving the same details of the Kormoran's co-ordinates and log details as were in his seized notebook.

The war ended and Detmers was repatriated in 1947. He returned to Germany, debilitated by a stroke down his left side. His dictionary was his most prized possession. But in 1990, Brisbane author Barbara Poniewierski, on a research trip to Germany, uncovered the existence of Detmers's dictionary while attending a reunion of Kormoran survivors. Detmers had apparently bequeathed the dictionary to his sister's son and, when Poniewierski got a phone call from famed shipwreck hunter David Mearns seeking confirmation that the dictionary existed, she gave him the name of Detmers's relatives in Hamburg.

When Mearns got his hands on the dictionary, he engaged former Royal Navy captain and linguist Peter Hore to crack the code. It wasn't hard. It was just a matter of, quite literally, joining the dots. They spelled out a few words a page, detailing the battle, the co-ordinates, and all the log details of arguably Australia's most famous naval encounter. It confirmed Detmers's original notes seized from him at Shepparton more than 60 years earlier.

Mearns has said he used Detmers's dictionary as "factual ground zero". And he knew if the dictionary could lead him to the Kormoran, it would also reveal to him the final resting place of HMAS Sydney. "Captain Detmers's versions were nearly always identical, so I concluded he was always telling the truth," Mearns told journalist Carmelo Amalfi. "No other shipwreck hunter has had so many vital clues about the Sydney's resting place."

NOTE: The flag above is a bait which I think any Leftist reading this site will be unable to resist. It is also unlikely that they will read this far.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your summary of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH

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