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Ceramic radio insulator from HMAS SYDNEY I

Date: 1913
Dimensions:
Overall: 125 x 90 mm, 1344.56 g
Medium: Ceramic, glazed
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Trustees of the Sydney Training Depot
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Insulator
Object No: 00045375

User Terms

    Description
    HMAS SYDNEY I was the first of four Australian Navy ships to carry the name. HMAS SYDNEY was commissioned on 26 June 1913 and escorted the first ANZAC convoy to the Middle East. Whilst passing the Cocos Archipelago, a strange and unknown code could be heard on SYDNEY's radio system. Upon detaching from the convoy, SYDNEY found the German cruiser EMDEN, who had just sent a landing party to destroy the cables on Direction Island. During this battle, EMDEN would be demolished by the stronger and faster SYDNEY but they would not have known that the Germans were attacking allied land without the use of the radio system.
    HistoryHMAS SYDNEY I was commissioned at Portsmouth on 26 June 1913. Following a period spent in eastern Australian ports, SYDNEY proceeded for Singapore in March 1914 to act as escort to the two Royal Australian Navy submarines, AE1 and AE2. Following the outbreak of war in August 1914, SYDNEY proceeded north with WARREGO and YARRA to form a unit of Admiral Patey's Pacific Squadron. Highlights during this period included the capture of Rabaul and destruction of the Angaur Island Wireless Station.

    In October 1914, SYDNEY and sister ship HMAS MELBOURNE detached from flagship HMAS AUSTRALIA and returned to Australia to escort with HMS MINOTAUR and Japanese cruiser IBUKI the first ANZAC convoy from Australia to the Middle East consisting of 38 transports. HMAS SYDNEY was fitted with a radio system and whilst passing the Cocos Islands, the wireless telegraphy operators heard signals in an unknown code followed by a query from the Cocos Island Wireless Telegraphy Station 'What is this code?'. Shortly afterwards, Cocos signalled 'Strange warship approaching'. HMAS SYDNEY I was detached on 9 November 1914 to investigate the reports and found that the vessel was in fact the German Dresden class cruiser SMS EMDEN, which had just detached a shore party to destroy the British cable and wireless station on Direction Island. EMDEN stood out to meet SYDNEY, opening fire on the Australian cruiser at 9.40 am. The German cruiser, hopelessly outgunned by the modern, powerful and faster SYDNEY, was pounded almost beyond recognition before being driven ashore on North Keeling Island. SYDNEY's casualties numbered four men killed and twelve wounded. EMDEN lost 131 killed, with 65 wounded and 110, including the captain, von Muller, taken prisoner.

    Towards the end of SYDNEY's career, the vessel served as Flagship of the Australian Squadron from September 1924 to October 1927. She paid off at Sydney on 8 May 1928 and on 10 January 1929 was delivered to Cockatoo Island for breaking up.
    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Len E Forsythe Snapper Island Collection

    Assigned title: Ceramic radio insulator from HMAS SYDNEY I

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