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July 21, 2011
an old salt
Navy bids farewell to the last survivor of HMAS
Parramatta II, Harold Moss.
By Graham McBean
AS the ship's company of HMAS Parramatta IV
faced the White Ensign in Sydney, the Navy fare-
welled its last remaining survivor from the World
War II sinking of HMAS Parramatta II off watch.
Harold Moss died on July 2 after a brief battle with
leukaemia and was laid to rest in Ballina on July 12 in
a simultaneous ceremony with the Parramatta IV in
The 88-year-old was the last remaining link to the
wartime sinking of Parramatta II about 40km north of
Bardia off the Libyan coast on November 27, 1941, by
the German submarine U559.
Mr Moss was one of just 24 sailors who survived
the torpedo attack on the 1060 tonnes Grimsby class
sloop, while 138 people from the ship's company were
lost, including all officers.
In his account of the night Parramatta IV was lost,
Mr Moss said the force of the explosion threw him
over a mess table and he knew instinctively that he had
to get out.
Mr Moss had been on watch but was grabbing
some sleep in the mess when the torpedo struck about
"Near that mess was a ladder going up behind the
funnel and I was up there like a flash," Mr Moss said.
"Right opposite me, as I got on the deck, was the
whaler and I thought I will get into that and as the ship
went down I would float off.
"Silly me -- forgot that it was all tied down and as
the ship turned over I was washed out."
Good fortune smiled on Mr Moss and a Carley raft
floated next to him, whereupon he began to help other
The small but poignant ceremony on the flight
deck of Parramatta IV during a clear lower deck was a
sailor's farewell to Mr Moss.
Present CO Parramatta II CMDR Guy Blackburn
said a reading of Mr Moss' service was made by ABET
Nathan Dowsett and each rank level gave a piece to the
"We read the ode to the fallen, the naval prayer and
the Last Post and Reveille was played as we faced the
ensign to honour Harold," CMDR Blackburn said.
He said a copy of the service signed by all HODS,
the chaplain and himself would be forwarded to Mr
Moss' widow, Pearl, the Sea Power Centre and the City
of Parramatta historical collection.
Former CO HMAS Parramatta IV CDRE Mike
Noonan attended Mr Moss' service in Ballina and
delivered a brief message to Mr Moss' family on behalf
of the Navy.
Navy Historian from the Sea Power Centre John
Perryman said the tragedy of Parramatta II began a six-
month period that saw HMAS Sydney and sister ship
Perth lost to enemy action.
Mr Perryman said in a twist the U-boat responsible
for sinking Parramatta was itself sunk on October 30,
1942, by ships of the Royal Navy.
"Three British seamen then boarded the sinking
vessel seizing its Enigma coding machine and code
books," Mr Perryman said.
"Two of the seamen were lost when the submarine
sunk but their sacrifice enabled the Allies to break and
read the German naval signal traffic, saving the lives of
countless other Allied seamen."
Mr Perryman said Mr Moss' passing served to
remind us of those dark days of 1941.
Mr Moss is survived by his wife, Pearl, and two
daughters, Sandra and Shireen.
MATES: Bill Wood, Harold Moss and Ted Fryer circa 1940 (above) and holding the photo (above
right) at the commissioning of HMAS Parramatta IV in October 2003. Photo above courtesy of AWM
delivered by former
CO Parramatta IV
CDRE Mike Noonan
at the funeral of last
Parramatta IV survivor
Two days after the
loss of Parramatta II
in 1941, Admiral A.B.
the signal (left) to
the Australian Naval
FINAL LINK: The lightly armed sloop HMAS Parramatta II. Harold Moss was the last remaining link
to the wartime sinking of the ship off the Libyan coast in 1941.
"To honour the bond of mateship that
only sailors know, at this time in Sydney,
onboard HMAS Parramatta IV, the entire
Ship's Company, with the exception of
the sailors on watch here in Ballina, are
gathered as a Ship to reflect on the rich
heritage, history and commitment, which
Harold and his mates have left with us.
They too are paused, with the church
pennant and the white ensign flying
proudly, to honour the memory of Harold
and indeed that of all our ex-service
community whom we owe a debt of
gratitude for giving us the strength from
which to continue our Nation's great
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