HMAS Parramatta.
HMAS Parramatta.

Navy 'legend' laid to rest

THE last survivor of HMAS Parramatta II, which was torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II, has died after a short battle with leukemia.

Harold Moss, of Ballina, was honoured during his funeral in Ballina this week and also during a simultaneous service onboard the HMAS Parramatta IV in Sydney.

An ordinary seaman, he was one of 24 people who survived the sinking of the ship on November 27, 1941.

A total of 138 people, including all the officers, were killed.

Commodore Michael Noonan, director general of Operations/J3 with the Australian Defence Force's Headquarters Joint Operations Command, attended Mr Moss' funeral in Ballina, along with several crew members from the Parramatta IV and Parramatta City councillor Paul Garrard.

They said Mr Moss' death was the “end of an era”.

“Harold was a great link to our history,” Commodore Noonan said.

“He was always a tremendous inspiration to a lot of people.

“He was a true gentleman, a much loved member of the Ballina community and a legend of the Royal Australian Navy.

“For me and my team, he was the embodiment of what our Navy is and why we do what we do.

“To his shipmates he was a wonderful character who loved a joke and a yarn.

“But to the families of the 138 men who didn't come back from the Mediterranean in 1941, he was an important and real link to the men he served alongside.

“Saying goodbye to Harold has been difficult,” he said.

President of the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum, Clem McMahon, recalled that Mr Moss had a “tremendous sense of history”.

“He also had a tremendous sense of humour,” he said.

“We will miss him very much.”

In the book, Parramatta: The City and Ships, Mr Moss told his story of that fateful night.

“It was raining pretty heavily, so after my watch I couldn't sleep in my usual top deck hammock,” he said.

“I found a spot on the portside on a mess deck stool and, using my Mae West life preserver as a pillow, went to sleep.

“The next thing I knew was that I was flying over a table, smashing up against the ship's side.

“We had been torpedoed.

“It was utter chaos.”

He also said that for many years, he was haunted by “the memory of the screams of men battened down in the ship”.

Mr Moss is survived by his wife, Pearl, and two daughters, Sandra and Shireen.

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