HMAS Parramatta II Memorial Back to Search

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Location Queens Wharf Reserve, George Street, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Type memorial

The monument is a sandstone rock surrounded by a fence in Queens Park Harris Park. Queen's Wharf Reserve is one of the most important places in Parramatta's colonial history.

Built Not yet discovered
Opened 11 November 2006

Commissioned 8th April 1940 - Sunk 27th November 1941

Following the start of the British Eighth Army offensive in Libya on 18 November, 1941, Parramatta and her sister ship Yarra successfully escorted a slow convoy to Libya. Around the time the beleagured Tobruk garrison was running dangerously low on ammunition, so Parramatta and the RN destroyer HMS Avon Vale were despatched to escort the heavily laden ammunition ship Hanne.

Around midnight on 26 November, 1941, the three ships were battling their way through heavy rain and surging seas in pitch black darkness, when HMS Avon Vale somehow became from the other two. As it turned out, she was fortunate to do so. For nearly two hours the convoy, unknown to them, had been stalked by a German submarine U 559, whose commander had sighted the ships in a vivid flash of lightning. Shortly after midnight he loosed three torpedoes at a range of 2,000 yards, but all missed. Then, at 12.45am, using a single torpedo, he had another go at closer range. Parramatta was hit amidships. There were two almost simultaneous explosions, the second thought to be the ship's magazine, and the ship - virtually torn apart - rolled rapidly to starboard and sank.

Only those on deck had a ghost of a chance. Avon Vale plucked 21 survivors from the wreckage-strewn sea, and three others, unaided, swam to the Libyan coast, where they were rescued by advancing British troops, making a total of 24 survivors: 23 RAN. 1 RN Petty Officer on loan to the RAN. One hundred and thirty- eight lives were lost: 136 crew (130 RAN, 6RN), one RN officer and one RN rating who were hitching a ride to Tobruk.

The commanding officer, who had been promoted to Acting Commander JH Walker RAN, was one of those who went down with his ship. Thirty-nine years old, he had entered the RAN college in 1915 at the age of thirteen and a half years. HMAS Parramatta was his first sea-going command.

The Hanne, with her precious cargo of ammunition, arrived safely at Tobruk with HMS Avon Vale.

The Naval Ode

They have no grave but the cruel sea,
No flowers at their head,
A rusting hulk is their tombstone,
Afast on the ocean bed.

This memorial stone is to remember the 138 men who made the supreme sacrifice.

In Honour of all the men of HMAS Parramatta II
Who served Australia in time of conflict during World War II
Lest we forget

John Haines OAM, lord Mayor, City of Parramatta

Les G Taylor, President, Parramatta memorial, Sub Section N.A.A

The Hon. Paul Elliott, Federal Member for Parramatta

7 May 1995



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