New Boat Book SYDNEY: Cipher and Search
Solving the last great naval mystery of the Second World War
by Captain Peter Hore
In November 1941 the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney, with a crew of 645, disappeared off the coast
of Western Australia. Shipwrecked German sailors told an incredible tale of how their ship, Kormoran, a
lightly armoured merchant raider, had sunk the pride of the Australian navy. Almost at once conspiracy
theories sprang up to explain the tragic loss of the ship and so many lives.
Captain Peter Hore decoded and translated accounts of the battle between the HMAS Sydney and the HSK Kormoran.
While imprisoned in Australia, Theodor Detmers, the Commander of the Kormoran, wrote two reports on
the battle. One was encoded in a notebook that was confiscated by Australian authorities after Detmers
attempted escape. The other was carefully concealed in a dictionary that Detmers took with him back to
Germany at war’s end. Peter Hore decoded and translated both accounts and compared them with a 1945
decoding of the notebook, as well as another report written by Detmers during his return voyage to
Germany. His comparison of the four versions solved a number of mysteries surrounding the details of the
battle and pointed to the probable location of the Kormoran.
Peter Hore’s research was used in the successful discovery of the HMAS Sydney in March 2008.
Captain Peter Hore served worldwide in the Royal Navy from 1962 to 2000, mostly in frigates and
destroyers. During the Falklands War he was Joint Logistics Controller on Ascension Island, and he has
headed both the Royal Navy’s Applied Research Programme and its Non?Technical Research Programmes.
His last appointment in uniform was as Head of Defence Studies during the British government’s Strategic
Defence Review, the rewriting of British Maritime Strategy, and the launch of a new concept of operations,
the Maritime Contribution to Joint Operations.
Since completing this book, Captain Peter Hore has been appointed an expert witness to the
Australian government’s Commission of Inquiry into the loss of HMAS Sydney.
$34.95 pb, publication date 29 July. Published by Seafarer Books, distributed in Australia by
ELEANOR BRASCH ENTERPRISES