Sydney William BUTCHER

BUTCHER, Sydney William

Service Number: 23734
Enlisted: 14 November 1939
Last Rank: Leading Stoker
Last Unit: HMAS Kuttabul (Shore)
Born: Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, 11 December 1920
Home Town: Weston, Cessnock, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Killed in Action, Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1 June 1942, aged 21 years
Cemetery: South Maitland (Kurri Kurri) Cemetery
South Maitland (Kurri Kurri) Cemetery, Weston, New South Wales, Australia
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Garden Island Naval Base HMAS Kuttabul Memorial
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World War 2 Service

14 Nov 1939: Enlisted Royal Australian Navy, Stoker 2/c, 23734, HMAS Cerberus (Shore), Sydney, New South Wales
14 Nov 1939: Enlisted Royal Australian Navy, Leading Seaman, 23734
1 Jun 1942: Involvement Royal Australian Navy, Leading Stoker, 23734, HMAS Kuttabul (Shore)

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"On May 31, 1942, three Japanese midget submarines launched an attack on vessels in Sydney Harbour. What followed shook Australia to the core with the audacious attack on the HMAS Kuttabul killing 21 men – including a young man from Weston.

Seventy years on, the story of these men and their tragic deaths has resurfaced along with the weight of their sacrifice. EMMA SWAIN reports.

On the day Leading Stoker Sydney William Butcher was laid to rest a young woman looked on.

Seven months earlier she had become his wife – but in June 1942 Violet Butcher stood as his widow.

Leading Stoker Butcher was just 21 when he perished on the ill-fated HMAS Kuttabul on May 31, 1942.

He was one of 19 Australian and two Royal Navy sailors who were killed when two torpedoes – fired by the Japanese submarine M24 at the US Navy’s heavy cruiser USS Chicago – exploded beneath the Royal Australian Navy’s HMAS Kuttabul.

Upon his death, Leading Stoker’s remains were brought home to Weston and put to rest in the Church of England section of Kurri Kurri Cemetery.

Today his grave may be the only remaining Hunter Valley link to the Japanese submarine attack on Sydney Harbour during WWII.

“Leading Stoker Butcher’s service record records that he died 31 May 1942 result of enemy action Sydney Harbour,” Hunter-based military historian David Dial said. “And it now appears that M24, after completing its deadly mission, slipped out of the harbour and headed north and disappeared, its whereabouts unknown until November 2006 when it was discovered off Sydney’s northern beaches by weekend recreational divers.”

Mr Dial said Leading Stoker Butcher’s funeral was the first naval funeral on the Coalfields during the years of WWII..." - READ MORE LINK (