Lake Macquarie History

HMAS Perth. March 1942

“We stand here today to honour those brave men of HMAS Perth and USS Houston. Those who died during the Battle of the Sunda Strait, those who did not survive the jungle prisoner of war camps of south-east Asia and those who subsequently passed after their return home. We honour them all and may we be worthy of their sacrifice.” Commemoration address Senior Naval Officer Victoria Commodore Greg Yorke. Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne 1 March 2021

photo: hmas perth

The cruisers Perth and Houston encountered the Japanese invasion force stationed in Western Java.

By midnight on 28 February 1942, Perth had very little ammunition left. Captain Waller turned the ship south and attempted to force a passage through Sunda Strait. Perth was almost immediately struck by a torpedo. Waller gave the order to prepare to abandon ship. A second torpedo struck and the order to abandon ship was given. Perth sank at 12.25am on 1 March following a third and fourth torpedo strike. L2319 Walrus I was lost with the ship.

Many were killed while abandoning Perth. They were under fire from destroyers at close range. Shells were exploding in the water around them. Only 218 of 686 people aboard eventually came home.

Of the six 9 Squadron personnel deployed to Perth only Flight Lieutenant Allen Vernon McDonough and Warrant Officer Ronald Adolphus Bradshaw survived both the battle and prisoner of war camps. Sergeant Harold Sparks, Corporal Phillip Ernest Will and Corporal Colin Archibald Nott were killed in the Battle of Sunda Strait. Leading Aircraftman Ernest George Toe died in the sinking of a transport ship while a prisoner of war.

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