So I'm scheduled to guide a bunch of Aussie kids who will be visiting Singapore next year to mark the 78th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore as well as commermorate Anzac Day. In the lead up to that I'd thought I'd dig up some #otd type posts which I did a couple of years back on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore so as to provide some context to the the campaign and since I'm posting in a private group there might as well copy and paste here for those interested.
We begin with an event that happened 78 years ago, posts will where possible include time stamps (local unless otherwise stated).
19 November 1941, 280km SW of Carnavon, WA, 1925hrs (UTC+8)
HMAS Sydney, one of 3 modified Leander-class light cruisers operated by RAN, disappears over the horizon from Kormoran, the German merchant raider that has for the past hour traded shots with her at point-blank range. It is the last time that any human will see her afloat.
Earlier at 1655hrs
HMAS Sydney had been returning to Fremantle after escorting a troopship that was headed to Singapore. She sights a lone merchantman at around 1655hrs, heading north. She will close to investigate.
Sydney will have closed to within 1,300m, her guns and torpedo tubes trained on the merchantman which had yet to identify herself.
The captain commanding the Kormoran, Theodore Detmars, gives orders to drop her disguise and reveal her heretofore hidden armament. Both ships have engaged each other at distance where they could not possibly miss.
Both ships fire nearly simultaneously but with very different results. Sydney's salvo will either miss or go through the thin sides of Kormoran. Kormoran's return fire will destroy Sydney's bridge and director tower (the part of the ship that directs the fire of the ships main guns) very early on in the engagement, severely reducing the effectiveness of Sydney's return fire. The range is so close that secondary armaments on both ships would be brought to bear on the other.
Kormoran will fire at least 10 salvos and 1 torpedo into the side of Sydney, wrecking the latter's upper superstructure. Kormoran's fire is so accurate that 5 mins after the engagement began, Sydney would slow and turn south, mortally wounded. Kormoran would not escape unscathed, Sydney's X Turret will land hits on her engine room, crippling her.
Both ships now 10km apart and heavily damaged, Sydney limps away from Kormoran, which is dead in the water.
Sydney disappears from the view of Kormoran. Detmars orders the crew to scuttle and abandon Kormoran.
The glow from the burning Sydney can still be observed by the crew of Kormoran, this glow will disappear shortly before midnight.
HMAS Sydney will sink shortly before midnight of 20 November 1941, all 645 of her crew lost with her. It will be the largest loss of life in the history of the RAN, accounting for 35% of all RAN personnel killed in the Second World War.
Kormoran will sink shortly after Sydney, 82 of her crew killed in action, the other 317 survived to be captured as POWs. They will be the only eyewitnesses to what happened.
The wrecks of both ships would be discovered in March 2008, just days apart. First Kormoran then Sydney. A study of the wrecks will corroborate the accounts of the engagement given by the German survivors of Kormoran https://www.defence.gov.au/…/FinalR…/Report/Chapter%2012.pdf
For more information on the loss of Sydney