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Binoculars presented to the Lord Mayor of Sydney by Captain J A Collins of HMAS SYDNEY (II)

Date: c 1935
Overall: 45 x 195 x 170 mm
Medium: Metal, glass, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Bob Auston
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Binoculars
Object No: 00048002

User Terms

    These well-worn Zeiss binoculars, recovered from an Italian airman shot down over the Mediterranean in 1940, were presented to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Stanley Crick by the captain of HMAS SYDNEY, Captain John Augustine Collins in February 1941.
    SignificanceHMAS SYDNEY was a key vessel of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and a significant World War II symbol for the Australian public. In light of the ship's loss in November 1941 these binoculars are a poignant link to the official celebrations attending the return of the ship to Sydney nine months earlier.

    HistoryHMAS SYDNEY was built by Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd at Wallsend on Tyne in 1933 and launched in 1934 by Mrs Bruce, wife of the Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. The light cruiser was named for the first HMAS SYDNEY which had seen successful battle against the German raider SMS EMDEN in World War I.

    At the outbreak of World War II, SYDNEY undertook local patrol duties until April 1940 when she headed for the Mediterranean theatre to join the 7th Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet. Action soon followed with the bombardment of Bardia (Libya), encounters with Italian ships and the Battle of Calabria (Italy) on 9 July.

    The Battle of Cape Spada took place on 19 July 1940 off the north-western point of Crete and HMAS SYDNEY led Royal Navy destroyers in the attack on the Italian cruisers BARTOLOMEO COLLEONI and GIOVANNI DELLE BANDE NERE.

    After this successful sea battle SYDNEY took part in the second bombardment of Bardia and operations in the Straits of Otranto and the Adriatic. By January 1941 the ship was in need of refit and the ship's complement in need of rest so she sailed for Australia.

    The ship and men were accorded a hero's welcome to Sydney on 10 February 1941 and on the following day an estimated 250,000 Sydneysiders lined George Street as the men marched to Town Hall for speeches and presentations.

    After a refit at Garden Island and a change of command from Captain John Collins to Captain John Burnett, SYDNEY took up duties as convoy escort in Western Australian waters. It was here that she fell foul of the German raider HSK KORMORAN on 19 November 1941. A fierce battle ensued which resulted in both vessels sinking, all 645 SYDNEY men lost, and 317 KORMORAN survivors rescued from their lifeboats and rafts.

    The loss of SYDNEY was devastating for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian public. Theories - some of them extremely fanciful and wholly unsupported by any evidence - abound on the chain of events on that fateful day including the participation of German and/or Japanese submarines.

    The wreck of HMAS SYDNEY was finally located on 16 March 2008 near the coast of Steep Point, Western Australia, 66 years after it sank. It was located 10 miles away from the wreck of the KORMORAN which had been located on 12 March. The finding of both wrecks confirmed the German account of the battle.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Binoculars presented to the Lord Mayor of Sydney by Captain J A Collins of HMAS SYDNEY (II)

    Assigned title: Binoculars given to Lord Mayor Of Sydney by Captain Collins of HMAS SYDNEY (II)

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