footage was only discovered this year - 2008. Many thanks to John Francis
OAM. The following is his account of how this film was found.
Where I live on the outskirts of Horsham I have a quite a large property
with no street lights to interfere with night-time viewing of the stars and
planets. This particular night my neighbour from about 2 kilometres away had
come to my house to assist me calibrating my 190MM Reflector Telescope and
to look for a Galaxy we had discussed earlier. After locating the 'Sombrero
Galaxy' and packing up the telescope we adjourned inside for a cup of
coffee. As the 'Sydney' search had come to a conclusion and being a
generally untidy person, my charts and books about the ship were still out
in the room. My neighbour asked me of my interest and after I told him he
made a comment that his mother in law in Stawell had footage of the search.
After many questions I thought there was something worth investigating in
his comment. As it was quite late in the night and too late to call his
mother in law we decided to leave for Stawell 100 kilometres away first
thing in the a.m.
The lady was quite happy to hand over the VHS format of the footage which
ran for around 4 minutes and told me to do what I liked with it. I was
completely gobsmacked that this footage existed and even more surprised that
it was buried in amongst a solid hour and a half of other 'rare' footage of
the time. Her Uncle, who had passed away in 1990 shot the footage as he was
'fleeing' Singapore ahead of a possible invasion by the Japanese in 1941. He
had been a musician at Kuala Lumpur and had made his way to Singapore and
was able to obtain passage in 'SS Centaur' bound for Fremantle. On the way
south the ship was diverted to join the search for HMAS Sydney and came
across the 'Kormoran' lifeboat which not only contained Captain Detmers but
also another significant officer Heinz Messerschmidt. Apparently the Chief
Officer of the 'Centaur' also had a hand held 8mm camera and shot some
footage but this film was lost with him and the ship when it was torpedoed
by the Japanese off Moreton Island a couple of years later. The footage was
transferred to VHS format, I think by filming it with a video camera as it
was being played, just before he passed away.
This year on my way back from
Queensland I called at the War Memorial in Canberra and gave them a copy of
the footage as well. They were most grateful for the footage and are
following up what else could be of interest to them on the remaining part of
the tape. I have put them in direct contact with the lady in Stawell as she
thinks the originals maybe in storage in her shed in a box. Something the
War memorial Archivists were very keen to speak with her about.