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by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) (c) 2002

HMAS SYDNEY - Leander/Perth-class Light Cruiser  
including Convoy Escort Movements

Edited by Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

HMAS Sydney (Navy Photos/Bruce Constable, click to enlarge) return to Contents List 

Modified LEANDER-Class cruiser ordered under the 1932 Estimates from Swan Hunter at Newcastle upon Tyne on 10th February 1933 and laid down on 8th July that year. Although launched as HMS PHAETON on 9th October 1934, this was changed in 1935 to SYDNEY after the decision to transfer her to the Royal Australian Navy. Build was completed on 24th September 1935 and she commissioned that day for RAN service.


B a t t l e   H o n o u r s


EMDEN Action 1914 - CALABRIA 1940 - CALABRIA 1940 - MEDITERRANEAN 1940 - KORMORAN Action 1941 - KOREA 1951-52*

(* Awarded to next HMAS Sydney)


H e r a l d i c   D a t a

None is available in the Admiralty List




D e t a i l s   o f   W a r   S e r v i c e


(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)



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Deployed with RAN Western Force based at Fremantle for trade defence in Indian Ocean.


October to November


Deployed on patrol duty off NW Australia for interception of commerce raiders.




Escorted troop convoy carrying 2nd Australian Imperial Force on passage to the Middle East until relieved by HM Australian Cruiser ADELAIDE on 12th.


Passage to Sydney for routine docking.


15th - Under refit in Sydney.



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Resumed operational duty on completion.


11th - Escorted military convoy US2 with HM Australian Cruiser AUSTRALIA from to Jervis Bay arriving on 12th.




6th - Relieved HMAS AUSTRALIA as Western Force cruiser for trade defence duty off Western Australia.




Trade defence and interception duty in continuation.




1st - Transferred to East Indies Station.


19th - Deployed with HM Australian Cruiser ADELAIDE and HM Battleship RAMILLIES for Trade defence and convoy escort duty.


28th - Detached to join military convoy US3 for Indian Ocean passage.




1st - Detached from US3 to take passage to Singapore to refuel.


8th - Arrived at Colombo and Joined Squadron.


12th - Sailed to rejoin US3 but ordered to return to Colombo prior for transfer to 7th Cruiser Squadron in Mediterranean Fleet.


18th - Passage to Aden.


22nd - Joined HM Cruiser GLOUCESTER and HM Aircraft Carrier EAGLE for passage through Red Sea.


26th - Joined Squadron at Alexandria.




Carried out exercises and worked-up with HM Cruisers GLOUCESTER, ORION, NEPTUNE and LIVERPOOL of 7th Cruiser Squadron.. (Note: CinC Mediterranean had arranged extensive programmes of exercises in anticipation of the entry of Italy into hostilities.)


12th - Deployed for an offensive sweep and reconnaissance off North African coast and in Aegean Sea.


21st - Bombarded Bardia with French battleship LORRAINE, HMS NEPTUNE, HMS ORION and HM Destroyers DAINTY, DECOY, HASTY and STUART (RAN).


28th - Deployed with Squadron and joined by HM Cruisers CALEDON and CALCUTTA for the cover of convoys in Aegean Sea. Engaged Italian destroyers attempting to attack a convoy and sank Italian ESPERO. (For details see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett, THE BATTLE FOR THE MEDITERRANEAN by D. Macintyre and Naval Staff History (HMSO - 2002).)




6th - Deployed to covered Aegean convoys.


7th - Transferred to provide cover passage of Convoys MS1 and MF1 from Malta with ships of Squadron and HM Australian Destroyer STUART.


8th - Under Italian air attacks.


9th - Took part in Battle of Calabria during which Italian Fleet disengaged. (For details see above references).


18th - Carried out anti-submarine sweep and shipping search with HM Destroyers ILEX, HERO and HASTY in Gulf of Athens.


19th - In action with HM Destroyers HYPERION and HAVOCK against 2 Italian cruisers on passage between Tripoli and Leros. Cruiser BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI was sunk by the destroyers. Engaged and hit BANDE NERE which then withdrew. Return fire damaged one funnel slightly. (For details see above references).


27th - Joined HMS NEPTUNE to meet HM Battleships MALAYA, WARSPITE, RAMILLIES and H M Aircraft Carrier EAGLE. Came under air attack.


28th - Intercepted and sank Greek tanker ERMIONE.




Deployed with 7th Cruiser Squadron in eastern Mediterranean.


28th - Covered Fleet units during bombardments of seaplane base in Gulf of Bomba and Bardia harbour.


30th - Part of Force F for cover of passage of HM Battleship VALIANT, HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS, HM Cruisers CALCUTTA and COVENTRY from Gibraltar to join Fleet at Alexandria and also passage of convoy MB to Malta (Operation HATS).




1st - Remained with convoy MB when it was threatened by Italian major warships, which withdrew when Fleet units responded. (For details see above references).


3rd - Adopted disguise of Italian cruiser and bombarded airfield at Scarpanto with HMS ORION, HM Destroyer DECOY and HM Destroyer ILEX. In action with E-Boats sinking one and damaging another.


6th - Routine docking at Alexandria.


24th - Patrolled off Cyprus and covered HM Netlayer PROTECTOR near Beirut.


28th - Deployed with Fleet units to cover passage of HMS GLOUCESTER and HMS LIVERPOOL taking troops to Malta.


30th - Patrolled off Malta.




1st - Detached with HMS ORION to bombard airfield at Stampalia in Dodecanese.


9th - Deployed with Fleet to cover passage of Malta convoy MB6.


25th - Carried out Aegean sweep including Dardanelles area and supported convoys with HMS ORION, HM Destroyers JERVIS and JUNO.


28th - Patrolled with HMS GLOUCESTER, HMS ORION and HM Cruiser YORK off Crete during Italian invasion of Greece. (For details of naval operations in Greece and Crete see ENGAGE THE ENEMY MORE CLOSELY by Corelli Barnett and Naval Staff History).




5th - Embarked troops and stores for passage to Suda Bay with HMS AJAX.


7th - Joined Fleet to cover Malta convoy MW6 and transfer of HM Battleship BARHAM, HM Cruiser BERWICK, HM Cruiser GLASGOW and three Fleet destroyers of Force F from Gibraltar to join Fleet (Operation COAT).


11th - Detached with HMS AJAX, HMS NUBIAN and HMS ESKIMO to join HMS AJAX in offensive sweep in Adriatic and a bombardment of Valona.


12th - Night attack on Italian convoy off Brindisi sinking four ships and damaging an escort. Rejoined Fleet west of Crete.


15th - Embarked troops and made fast passage to Piraeus at 30 knots with HM Cruisers BERWICK, HMS GLASGOW and HMS YORK.


25th - Covered transit of HM Battleship RAMILLIES, HMS BERWICK and HMS NEWCASTLE to western Mediterranean and the transit of HM Cruisers MANCHESTER and SOUTHAMPTON with 3 Fleet destroyers in Force F from Gibraltar to join Fleet. (Operation COLLAR).


26th - Covered HMS EAGLE during air strike on Tripoli.




Based at Suda Bay for convoy defence and interception of Italian convoys.


17th - Offensive sweep in Adriatic and covered Convoy MW2 with Fleet units (Operations MC2 and MC3).


20th - Detached from covering duty and returned to Suda Bay.


23rd - Under refit in Malta. (Mileage steamed in 1940 - 60,000).


30th - Relieved by HM Australian Cruiser PERTH in 7th Cruiser Squadron and released from Mediterranean Fleet for return to RAN.



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8th - Passage to Alexandria escorted by HMAS STUART.


12th - Sailed from Suez for Sydney.


24th - Diverted at Seychelles to search for the German commerce raiders ATLANTIS and PINGUIN reported NW of islands.




Resumed passage to Sydney.




Under refit in Sydney.




On completion deployed for Convoy escort in Australian waters.


14th - Embarked delegation for ABDA conference and took passage to Singapore.


18th - Passage from Singapore to Australia.




Escorted troop convoy from Fremantle to Sunda Strait and returned with single empty ship.




Escorted convoy from Sydney to Fremantle.




Deployed on escort of convoys between New Zealand and Australia.




Escorted convoy from Sydney to Auckland and returned to Sydney via Suva.




4th - Escorted Convoy US12A from Australia to Colombo and returned independently.


22nd - Escorted Convoy US12B from Melbourne to Sunda Strait. Returned independently.




Local convoy defence in continuation.




11th - Escorted troopship ZEALANDIA from Fremantle on passage to Sunda Strait.


17th - After relief by HM Cruiser DURBAN returned independently.


18th - Diverted to search for German raider KORMORAN.


19th - Intercepted KORMORAN 300 miles off Western Australia and closed when identity given was known to be incorrect.

(Note: there have been a number of queries about these last two entries, but it has not been possible to identify the original source.)

Soon after first exchange of fire, shells from the enemy ship hit bridge structure and damaged the main armament fire-control director. Fires were started and although guns had to be used in Local Control obtained several hits on KORMORAN. The raider fired two torpedoes. one of which hit forward. SYDNEY was disabled and unable to move or to fight effectively. Fires became uncontrollable. Owing to the extent of damage inflicted by SYDNEY the enemy ship was abandoned after scuttling charges had been set. The resultant explosions caused extensive fires that soon reached magazines. KORMORAN then disintegrated. 315 survivors were later rescued and taken to Australia where they became POW. HMAS SYDNEY was last seen ablaze and it is assumed she sank with no survivors. Some wrecked life rafts were found a few days later. (Casualty List - note on casualties)







by Don Kindell


These convoy lists have not been cross-checked with the text above






Date convoy sailed

Joined convoy as escort

Convoy No.

Left convoy

Date convoy arrived








SW 004B





CF 001A








(Note on Convoys)





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revised 12/6/11
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