On Sunday the 24th of February, Church of St John the Evangelist in Fremantle held the annual memorial service to commemorate to loss of the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth(I) and the United States Navy heavy cruiser USS Huston during the battle of Sunda Straight off the coast of Indonesia in March 1942. There was heavy loss of life as a result of the sea action and many more were lost as POWs at the hands of the Japanese.
The Church service was lead by the Rector of St Johns, Patrick King and Chaplain Franco Siani, RAN from HMAS Stirling. In attendance were relatives from the ill fated Perth, representatives of military organisations including the Consul General of the United States, David Gainer, Naval associations including The Navy League of Australia, the Lord Mayor of the City of Fremantle, Dr Brad Petitt, Commanding Officer of HMAS Stirling, Captain Ainsley Morethorpe CSN RAN, RSLWA and members of the United States Navy on secondment to Australia.
In a moving service, the guests were told of the suffering and gallantry of those who made the ultimate sacrifice against overwhelming odds in those dark days of 1942 when the Japanese seemed unstoppable. The Australian Navy Cadets from T.S Perth were in attendance forming a guard of honour at the front of the church and later accompanying the wreath layers as they paid tribute to the officers and men from the Perth (I) and the Huston. The collection was done in the traditional way by passing around upturned Navy headress.
The emotion of the day was heightened by the playing of “Tapps” and the Last Post by a bugler from the Royal Australian Navy. Following the service morning tea was served which allowed time for fellowship and stories of recollection.
On the 16th of February the Nedlands Yacht Club, as part of their annual HMAS Perth (I) memorial Regatta, hosted the launch of the HMAS Perth (I) Memorial Foundation Inc. In front of a large number of guests, the Foundation was formally launched by the Chair of the Foundation, Captain Angela Bond RAN and Commodore Malcolm Wise OAM.
Speakers included Mr Barry Court AM, Patron of the yacht club, Captain Michael Donnelly USN Rtd, Captain Ainsley Morethorpe RAN, and Colin Bancroft, son of Arthur Bancroft a survivor of the Perth.
The Committee is aiming to undertake a formal launch in conjunction with the 60th HMAS Perth Memorial Regatta, at the Nedlands Yacht Club, on 16th February 2020. This will signify the public commencement of fundraising activities.
As a Committee, we are committed to this project to ensure that the fate of the ship’s company of HMAS Perth (I) is remembered and that their families and the public have a place to visit and remember.