One of Australia’s toughest military involvements, the Battle of Sunda Strait was commemorated at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on March 1.
CAPTION: The catafalque party from HMAS Cerberus salutes during a service to commemorate the 79th anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. Photo by Leading Seaman Bonny Gassner.
The Battle of Sunda Strait was a naval battle, which occurred during World War II in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra.
On the night of February 28, 1942, Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houstonfaced a major Imperial Japanese Navy task force.
After a fierce battle lasting several hours, both Allied ships were sunk. Five Japanese ships were sunk, three of them by friendly fire.
The catafalque party from HMAS Cerberus stood watch over the stone of remembrance as the Last Post and Reveille echoed through the sanctuary.
Acknowledging the relatives and friends of those who served in Perth and Houston 79 years ago, Senior Naval Officer Victoria Commodore Greg Yorke delivered the address.
“This action is chiefly why we are gathered here today to remember the gallantry displayed by the crews of both ships in what is now etched in history as the Battle of the Sunda Strait,” Commodore Yorke said.
“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.”
Jackson Bloom represented the US Consulate General Melbourne and acknowledged the partnership between both countries.
“I’m proud of the shared history and partnership of the USA and Australia and really appreciate the opportunity to be here in Melbourne today representing the US,” Mr Bloom said.
After the service, a floral tribute was laid at the Perth and Houston plaques by Dennis Abbey and Barry McDaniel.
Of Perth’s 681-strong company, 324 survived the battle with many being taken prisoner. Only 218 men returned home to Australia at the end of World War II.