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Thursday, 21 November 2013
Page: 1091


Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (09:43): On Sunday at 2pm I will join members of my community and officers and members of the Naval Association of Australia Parramatta Memorial Subsection at a service in honour of the men who served on the HMAS Parramatta II. The HMAS Parramatta IIwas sunk by a single torpedo off Tobruk on 27 November 1941. It sank with 138 of the 162 men on board. HMAS Parramatta II had a fine history. It served in the Mediterranean as one of several warships used to supply and support the allied forces besieged at Tobruk. It was one of the ships known as the 'Tobruk ferry service' and it did an extraordinary job while operating off Tobruk on 24 June 1941. Parramatta and the British sloop Auckland and the petrol carrier Pass of Balmaha were attacked by over 70 dive bombers. The Australian warship shot down three aircraft without receiving major damage, but Auckland was sunk, and HMAS Parramatta II helped to recover the 164 survivors. Not long after that, on 27 November, Parramatta was escorting transports resupplying the allied garrison at Tobruk, when she was hit by a single torpedo from U559 under the command of Hans Heidtmann. The damage was so significant that the captain only had time to order 'Abandon ship' before the ship in fact sank with 138 of 162 crew.

The name 'Parramatta' is the oldest name of an Australian ship in the Royal Australian Navy. The first Australian Navy ship, HMAS Parramatta I was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 1 March 1911. There have been four HMAS Parramattas since then, including HMAS Parramatta II, Parramatta III, which was commissioned in 1961 and which served in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation, and of course now the Anzac class frigate HMAS Parramatta IV, which enjoys the freedom of the city when those incredibly young men and women in its crew visit us from time to time, and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have such a fine crew visit us. They do a remarkable job in the Gulf. They go backwards and forwards to the Gulf on a regular basis and they are a remarkable bunch of young men and women.

But this weekend belongs absolutely to the men of HMAS Parramatta II, which so tragically sunk during World War II with so many lives. May they rest in peace.