Australia’s biggest maritime mystery has been solved 80 years after the sinking of the warship HMAS Sydney.
Able Seaman Thomas Welsby Clark, 21, was posted to HMAS Sydney four months before it was destroyed on November 19, 1941.
All 645 crew aboard the Australian warship died.
Able Seaman Clark had trained as an accountant in Brisbane, then served in the army before being transferred to HMAS Sydney.
He was buried on Christmas Island but the remains were exhumed in 2006 and samples of bone and dental collected before reinterment at the war cemetery in Geraldton, Western Australia.
Able Seaman Clark was identified as the ‘Unknown Sailor’ after advances in testing that enabled a trace through the paternal line of a family, known as Y-DNA.
The painstaking research involved experts from the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Federal Police.
The sinking of HMAS Sydney was the largest loss of life in the RAN, the biggest Allied warship lost with all hands during World War II, and a major blow to Australian morale.
With no survivor testimonies, the cruiser’s loss has attracted speculation for decades, with many historians believing she was ambushed by the German vessel.
Just how the heavily-armoured and powerfully gunned Australian vessel was lost to an armed merchant vessel has been the subject of debate over decades.
The official Australian Government inquiry concluded that both ships were travelling at 14 knots when Kormoran, disguised as a Dutch freighter, de-camouflaged, showing her battle flag before opening fire.
In March 2008, the Australian Government announced that the wreckage of both ships had been found, approximately 112 nautical miles off Steep Point, WA.