There is no single memorial in either Australia or New Zealand to commemorate the sinking of the Wimmera or the loss of life of both crew and passengers alike.
There are however, memorials to the Wimmera‘s crew in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Tower Hill Memorial, London
The Tower Hill Memorial in London stands as a memorial to those men of the British Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets who lost their lives during both the Great War 1914-1918 and World War II 1939-1945, and whose only known grave is the sea. In this large Portland stone memorial the names of each crew member who died is etched on brass plates under the name of their ship. Here, some (6000) miles from the scene of her loss, the name of the Australian ship Wimmera is recorded together with the names of her sixteen lost crew.
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, a memorial to Australia’s Merchant Seamen also records the names those whose lives were lost in the service of their country including those not on active service. The names of the Wimmera’s 16 crew members are displayed along with the names of other ships and their crews lost as a result of conflict.
AWM Memorial Plaque
Merchant Navy Memorial, Canberra
Not far from the Australian War Memorial, on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin stands Australia’s official memorial to her merchant seamen. Here, no names are recorded, the dead are anonymous and the ships on which they served and died unrecalled.
For the drowned passengers of the Wimmera, there is nought to call a memorial. Their names are not recorded on brass or stone in any single location, nor are their deaths officially recorded by New Zealand or Australian Registrars. There were no coroners’ inquests, no funerals, no graves. Nevertheless, the names of several of those passengers who died in the tragedy were memorialized by members of their family.
A resident of Hobart wrote to the Hobart Marine Board and proposed the construction of a memorial to Captain Kell and his officers. The proposal was even agreed in principal by the Tasmanian State Treasurer yet the ‘obelisk’ failed to materialize. Maybe the gesture was overtaken by time and events and eventually dismissed as an unworthy venture. Maybe the findings of the Court of Inquiry made such a tribute a trifle awkward.
Today, the steamship Wimmera remains in her ocean grave. At a depth of 50 fathoms she has remained unseen and untouched since that cold winter morning when she dramatically plunged from sight over 80 years ago. There is no treasure to plunder, no romantic intrigue to inspire an expedition and for most no reason to know that she ever existed.
May this website serve as a fitting memorial to the memory of the ship and all who sailed in her and to the 26 souls who lost their lives on her final voyage.
LEST WE FORGET
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021