54:41 | Modern history

The Hunt For HMAS Sydney

National Geographic

A band of determined volunteers and the man who found the legendary Hood and the Bismarck, have pulled off an astounding coup: they've convinced the Australian government to award them $5 million to solve one of the world's most enduring - and tragic - naval mysteries. Hunt For HMAS Sydney is far more than an expedition to find the rusting remains of a once proud and powerful fighting ship. It is in answer to the growing calls of the nation to find the final resting place of the 645 men who died in defence of their country. At the helm of a sophisticated survey vessel crammed with the latest deep-water detection technology and crewed by the best international team of operators that money can buy, is David Mearns. Originally from the US and now resident in the UK, Mearns is one of the world's leading deep-water wreck hunters. For more than five years, the hunt to uncover clues and evidence has taken Mearns and his allies on an international journey to reveal an astonishing story, spanning more than half a century. As the survey vessel sets sail, our story backtracks to November 19, 1941. The Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney - the pride of the Australian fleet - is en-route for the port of Fremantle after escorting a troopship bound for Singapore. What begins as an inspection of a suspicious merchantman, quickly escalates into a ferocious, all-out battle for survival as the cruiser is locked in a deadly duel with a wolf in disguise: the German raider Kormoran. What is known about the battle itself is solely based on the accounts of German survivors. After the battle, the badly damaged and burning Sydney disappears over the horizon to become a glow in the late evening sky. Kormoran is also crippled. With her engines out of action, Commander Theodor Detmers orders her to be scuttled. Sydney's last resting place, the details of her battle with Kormoran and the circumstances surrounding the whole affair have long been the centre of heated controversy.

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31:56 | Modern history

Paris 1919

Season 1  |  Episode 2  |  SBS

Versailles Treaty

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