A Cruiser of 6,830 tons, launched in 1934, the Sydney bore one of the most famous names in the Royal Australian Navy. Her predecessor of the same name, also a cruiser, was responsible for sinking the notorious German commerce raider Emden in the Indian Ocean in the First Great War.
In 1940 the Sydney formed part of the First Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet. She took part in various sweeps carried out by Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham in the hope of bringing the Italian Navy to action, and greatly distinguished herself in the second month of these hostilities. On the morning of July 19, 1940, she intervened in a running fight off the coast of Crete between four British destroyers and two Italian cruisers, both very fast ships. One of these, the Bartolomeo Colleoni of 5,069 tons, was hit repeatedly by 6-inch shells from the Sydney, and ultimately stopped, with smoke and flames pouring from her. Leaving the destroyers to complete her destruction with torpedoes, the Sydney continued in chase of the second enemy cruiser, which was also hit a number of times but succeeded in escaping through superior speed.
After Japan entered the war the Sydney returned to her home waters. On November 20, 1941, she intercepted a disguised German armed merchant cruiser, the Kormoran. Though the latter was sunk, the Sydney seems to have ventured too close to her opponent to ensure that she should not escape. At any rate, the Australian cruiser was heavily damaged, and when last seen by those in the German ship was on fire from end to end. She may have been torpedoed, but no one from her survived to report what happened; she simply disappeared.