HMAS Sydney
Message Board

Nov. 15, 2020

I am a researcher with NHSA (Naval Historical Society of Australia) I have been attempting to find a starboard side image of Sydney in Mediterranean service between Aug. 1940 to Dec. 1940. Her initial starboard side aft funnel camouflage application was different at that time to that of Feb. 41, but I can not locate any images to confirm. If anyone has such a photo it would be a big help which may confirm my research?

Best regards and thank you,
Brett Morrow

July 20, 2012

I am one of three sons of Captain T. J. N. Hilken. I would like to make a couple of suggested alterations. First that his initials were T. J. N (and not M as you have it at the moment) and secondly that he was known as 'Norman' and not 'Tom'. However I should be very interested to know if he had been called 'Tom' at an earlier stage in his life. You might be interested to know that he ended up as Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence.

Best Wishes,
Charles Hilken

Captain T. J. N. Hilken.

Jan. 11, 2012

Concerning the photo of HMAS SYDNEY entering Alexandria harbour dated 10 June 1940, I believe the date should be 20 July 1940, the day after the COLLEONI action. She is being cheered into harbour, as happened on that occasion. The ship with the cheerers in HMS EAGLE. I have seen a similar photograph and the outline of her flight deck is unmistakable.

Yours sincerely,
Ric Pelvin
Stirling, ACT, Australia

Reply 1
Jan. 23, 2012

I have been told this photo was before the action (as shown in the caption) due to the lack of damage to the funnel. But I originally had it shown as after the action. As I have no official documentation to support either opinion I am going to leave it as is for now, until I can confirm the actual details. Thanks for the info.

Michael W. Pocock

Mar. 31, 2011

My father WALTER HOLT, was on the Sydney, and was transferred off at Fremantle, just before she made her last voyage. I remember the stories and the sadness of loosing all his friends, sadly he never lived to know they found her, he died in august, 2000.  I like to think he found all his friends he had missed them so much through the years.

Rosemart Taffijn (Holt)

May 24, 2009

I am related to F/O Raymond Barker Barrey RAAF 407000 who was the HMAS Sydney seaplane pilot and RAAF Detachment Commander. In noticing that you have some different photos of HMAS Sydney I would like to know do you have any of her Seagull MK V or Walrus being launched or used on HMAS Sydney? Or anything to do with her RAAF Detachment on board ship in particular during 1941 when Ray was on board. Thanks for your time.

Stephen Clifford

April 14, 2008

I am not sure where you fit into the story, but I would like to know where I could pass on some information I have on Percy Skewes. He was my teacher when he enlisted in the Navy. I have been trying to get some information to someone involved in trying to identify the body washed up on Christmas Island. I have followed the stories of the " Sydney " for many years because Percy lived with my family at the time of his enlisting in the Navy. I have sent Emails to addresses listed on the websites and have had them returned as undeliverable.

The story concerns a man’s wristlet watch that posted from Christmas Island to a young lady who lived on the Evelyn Tableland. As I remember it, she was engaged to a sailor on the “Sydney”. As this was a relatively isolated area at the time, it has occurred to me that Ernest Rolley on the “Sydney” just may have been the
owner of the wristlet watch. He came from Herberton, which would only be about 18kms from the district where this lady lived, and regular Saturday night dances were held in community halls at Herberton, Evelyn Central and Chilverton, so you now get the picture. It is a link that would only be known to a very few people, probably most of whom are now passed away. I just hope that this may be the key to the mystery. If someone could calculate his body height etc. it at least eliminates another one. Hope I am not too late in getting this to you. Thank you for keeping in touch, and please let me know if anything comes of this.

Maureen Turner

Reply 1
Aug. 7, 2008

Someone sent me one of the messages posted on your website regarding Sydney II sailors. On 14 Apr, Maureen Turner posted that she had some information on Percy Skewes, who was the schoolmaster on board. Would you be able to pass on to her (if you are able to) that we were able to find a close relative of Percy's and that as a result of information provided, he has been removed from the shortlist as a potential match for the remains? Thank you.

Fiona McNaught

Commander, R.A.N.
Director Navy Ministerials and Coordination

Reply 2
Apr. 13, 2012

My question is in regards to the "testing" that Commander Fiona McNaught claims was undertaken to see if the remains on Christmas island were Percys or not! The reason I ask this is because she claims that a sample, possibly DNA was donated by a close family member. I hate to say it, but I am certain that this is a total lie! The reason I say this is because, Percy's brother, Arthur, passed away in the early 80's. Percy never had any children, so therefore that option is closed. Percys nephew, my dad, passed away in 2003. The only 2 people left alive with a direct link to Percy is my aunty and myself, and I can tell you now that neither of us has been contacted by the navy or government to provide any samples at all. I would like to hear an explanation of Fiona McNaughts claims. I will be contacting the navy and any other government organization hat is involved with this process! The loss of the Sydney was sad or everyone, and for some of the families who lost loved ones, we are still seeking closure after all these years....

Ben Skewes

Schoolmaster Percy Francis Skewes, R.A.N.
(Photo courtesy of Maureen Turner)

Mar. 1, 2008

The beautiful SYDNEY...................she dropped anchor off PORT FAIRY EAST BEACH about 38 or 39 when I was a boy, I will not forget her, the sailors as they walked our streets was bloody goodoh...............I signed up for the navy for six great years in 51.

Alan Bull
Geeelong, Australia

May 8, 2007

Hello, my name is Dennis Skewes CPO(SE) RANR. I am trying to find out all the information I can on a
LT. Percy Francis Skewes who apparently was the "schoolie" officer aboard the HMAS Sydney when she was lost during WW2. If you could help me with any info at all it would be much appreciated.

Dennis Skewes

Reply 1
Sept. 26, 2010

Percy Francis Skewes

Rank: Schoolmaster
Unit: HMAS Sydney
Service: RAN
Conflict: 1939-1945
Date of death: 20 November 1941
Place of death: Indian Ocean
Cause of death: Killed in action
Cemetery or memorial details: Plymouth Naval Memorial, United Kingdom
Source: AWM146 Roll of Honour cards, 1939-1945 War, Royal Australian Navy
Location on the Roll of Honour: Percy Francis Skewes's name is located at panel 8 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial Canberra.

He was born on 30 Nov 1914. Percy and Arthur Vivan were the sons of John Vivan and Maud Evelyn (nee Woolcock). Percy went to Thomburgh College, Charters Towers Queensland and became a school teacher.
His special interest was reading. He married Mina Glover and enlisted with the RAN in Melbourne, Victoria where he was now living in 1940. He initially saw service in the Pacific before joining HMAS Sydney. His parents were notified by the RAN that he was missing while living in Mount Isa in Queensland and along with his wife were devastated by the news.

Stephen Clifford

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