Sydney, Mar.17 : Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has called for a national memorial service in memory of sailors who sank with the HMAS Sydney during a sea battle of the Western Australian coast in 1941.
The wrecks of the HMAS Sydney and the German raider Kormoran have been found decades after the sea battle.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Dr Nelson called on the Federal Government to consider a national memorial service for the families of the 645 Australians aboard the Sydney, all of whom died.
But he would not be drawn on whether the relatives of the 80 German sailors who died on the Kormoran should be involved in the memorial service.
"That's obviously a matter that needs to be discussed between the Australian and German Governments," Dr Nelson said.
"I would expect the Australian Government and the Royal Australian Navy will do something which is appropriate for German memories."
Both ships should be declared war graves and any attempts to recover memorabilia from either wreck should only be done with the agreement of the families, the navy and the Australian War Memorial, he said.
Dr Nelson, defence minister in the former Howard government, said the importance of finally locating both ships and the battle site should not be underestimated.
"While the ship and those men went down, Australia's pride, resilience and determination didn't ever," he said.
"Finding Sydney and finding the site of where it was lost will mean an enormous amount to Australian families, to the Royal Australian Navy and to our nation.
"It means in finding it that the very deep wounds in Australian families, in our navy and in our nation can begin now to heal."