Australia identifies legendary World War II ‘unknown soldier’
Sydney, Australia, Nov 19 (EFE).- Australia has identified a legendary “unknown soldier,” the only body recovered after the sinking of the HMAS Sydney ship in a battle against Germany in 1941 off the country’s western coast during World War II, official sources reported Friday.
DNA analyses confirmed the remains belonged to Thomas Welsby Clark, a young man from Brisbane believed to be the only crew member who managed to escape on a life raft from the wreck 80 years ago, according to an Australian Navy statement.
The remains of the sailor, who after escaping on a raft died at sea, were found almost three months ago on Christmas Island, near Indonesia and thousands of kilometers from the scene of the incident.
Clark, who died at 21, was identified through the analysis of genetic samples taken in 2006, linked after 15 years of research with two direct relatives who survived the sailor.
Retired scholar Leigh Lehane said she was sad to learn her uncle – who met her as a newborn during her last visit to Brisbane – was the famous unknown HMAS Sydney soldier, though she added she was grateful to learn the truth about his identity.
Andrew Gee, Australian Veterans Affairs and Defense Personnel Minister, called it a historic moment for the country.
“That we can finally know Tom’s name, rank, service number and hometown, 80 years after he disappeared, is truly remarkable,” the minister said in a statement paying tribute to Clark and the sailors who “died defending Australia, its values ??and its way of life.”
The HMAS Sydney sank Nov. 19, 1941 after battling the undercover German merchant ship HSK Kormoran, about 222 kilometers west of the town of Steep Point, in the state of Western Australia.
“Of Sydney’s total crew of 645 men, none survived,” Vice Admiral Mike Noonan, Chief of the Australian Navy, said in the statement.