HMAS Perth (D29)

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Royal Navy
HMAS Perth
period of service
Builder: Portsmouth Naval Dockyard , Portsmouth
Keel laying: June 26, 1933
Launch: July 27, 1934
Commissioning: June 15, 1936
Fate: Sunk on March 1, 1942 by Japanese units during the Battle of the Sunda Strait
General properties
Ship type : Light cruiser
Displacement : 6830 ts
Length: 169 m
Width: 17 m
Draft : 5.8 m
Drive : 4 steam boilers
4 Parsons steam turbines
72,000 WPS on 4 screws
Speed: 32.5 kn
Range: 7400 nautical miles at 13 knots
1920 nautical miles at 30.5 knots
Crew: 570
Board aircraft: a Supermarine Walrus

The HMAS Perth (D29) was after the city Perth named light cruiser of the Royal Australian Navy during the Second World War . She was one of three modified Leander- class cruisers that were built for the Royal Navy and handed over to the Australian Navy in the late 1930s.


The cruiser was laid down in Portsmouth on June 26, 1933 and commissioned by the Royal Navy on June 15, 1936 as HMS Amphion . It was the first of the modified three cruisers of the Leander class, in which, in contrast to the previous units, the engine and boiler rooms were again arranged in the alternating order customary for warships, which can be recognized from the outside by the two funnels (one per boiler room) was. In the first ships of the class, the boiler rooms were side by side under a single large chimney, followed by the two adjacent engine rooms. The alternating arrangement of the rooms ensured that a single hit at the interface between two departments or in the chimney could not switch off the entire drive in one fell swoop due to the loss of all boiler or machine rooms.


From October 1936 to October 1938 the cruiser was the flagship of the British squadron at the Cape of Good Hope . In December 1938, a conversion of the cruiser began in Portsmouth , which lasted until the end of June 1939. Among other things, a more powerful aircraft catapult was installed for on-board aircraft and the four individual 4- inch guns were replaced by twin guns. During the renovation, the British and Australian governments agreed to buy the cruiser for the Royal Australian Navy. It was decided to hand over the ship to Australia immediately after the conversion, which put the old cruiser HMAS Adelaide out of service and sent its crew to Portsmouth to take over the ship. On June 29, 1939, the cruiser was (about: under the command of Captain Sea Captain ) Harold Farncomb as HMAS Perth provided by the Australian navy in service. The first mission took the ship to New York City , where it helped represent Australia at the World's Fair from August 4 to 16, 1939 . After that, the cruiser was supposed to go to Australia, but due to the tense situation in Europe and the outbreak of World War II on September 1, the Perth remained in the Caribbean .

After the outbreak of war, the Perth escorted British merchant ships in the Caribbean and the West Atlantic until the beginning of March, before finally arriving in Sydney on March 31, reaching Australia for the first time. In May 1940, the cruiser escorted the Queen Mary, loaded with Australian troops, to convoy US 3 and also protected it for part of its way to the Mediterranean . In June, Captain Phillip Bowyer-Smyth replaced Captain Farncomb as commander of the Perth , Farncomb became the commander of the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra . Then followed until November 1940 patrols and escort tasks in the area around Australia, where some German auxiliary cruisers were in use. At the end of November, she escorted convoy US 7 from Australia to Aden and, after several other brief escort missions, joined the British Mediterranean fleet in Alexandria .

Mediterranean 1941

As part of the 7th Cruiser Squadron, the Perth was used in January and February 1941 for patrols and troop transports to Crete and Malta . In the port of Malta, the cruiser was slightly damaged by a close hit during an air raid. After repair, it transported troops to Greece , which should support the Greeks in the fight against Italy . On March 28 and 29, 1941, the ship took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan , in which the Italian Navy suffered a devastating defeat. At the end of April the cruiser was used in Operation Demon , the evacuation of British troops from Greece to Crete, which had become necessary due to the successful German Balkan campaign . When the German troops attacked Crete in May, Perth was part of Force C , commanded by Rear Admiral King , one of four British combat units that operated north of Crete during the airborne battle for Crete despite German air supremacy to prevent the Germans Paratroopers in Crete were reinforced by sea. During the numerous heavy air raids in which the British cruisers HMS Fiji and HMS Gloucester were sunk on May 22nd, the Perth managed to evade all attacks, only one close hit caused damage, which took place from May 24th to 28th in Alexandria were repaired. After that, the cruiser returned to Crete and took 1200 people on board as part of the evacuation from Crete. On the way back to Alexandria there were again air strikes on the convoy to which the Perth belonged. This time, in addition to several near hits, she also received a direct hit in one of the boiler rooms, in which 13 people died and the boiler room failed. The repair of the damage in Alexandria lasted until June 25, 1941 this time.

After the repair was completed, the Perth operated off the Syrian coast during the invasion of Syria by British and Free French troops , until it was replaced by her sister ship HMAS Hobart and returned to Australia.

Pacific War

The Perth 1942

In August the cruiser reached Australia and underwent an extensive overhaul in the Cockatoo Island Dockyards , Sydney, which lasted until November 22, 1941. After the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia began , the Perth was used under her new commander, Captain Hector Waller, for patrols and escort duties in the area between Australia, New Caledonia and New Guinea until the beginning of February 1942 . The ship was then transferred to the ABDA armed forces in the Dutch East Indies . These were the combined forces of the Australian, British, Dutch (Engl. Dutch ) and Americans who tried desperately and unsuccessfully to stop the Japanese. On February 24th, the Perth arrived in Batavia and joined the ABDA fleet , but one day later ABDACOM was disbanded by its Commander-in-Chief , British Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell , as he had to realize that there were not enough forces to defend the Area were available. Nevertheless, the ABDA fleet under the Dutch Rear Admiral Karel Doorman made one last attempt to prevent the Japanese invasion of Java . This attempt also failed with heavy losses in the battle in the Java Sea . Although the ABDA fleet was numerically as strong as the Japanese armed forces, it consisted of the thrown together remnants of the Asian fleets of three nations, which were not harmonized and were exhausted and damaged after weeks of futile efforts. In the fight against the rested Japanese units they did not succeed in the battle to sink a single enemy ship, while they themselves lost two light cruisers and four destroyers and numerous other ships were damaged. The Perth suffered no major damage in this battle and returned to Batavia with the American heavy cruiser USS Houston .

There Vice Admiral Conrad EL Helfrich ordered them , together with the destroyer Mr. To run Ms. Evertsen through the Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap in southern Java, where he wanted to collect the remains of the ABDA fleet. In Tanjung Priok both ships fuel and ammunition were trying to get, but only after the Port Authority had learned of the fall in Dutch ships, they were for the Perth 300 tons of fuel-free, making them about 50% of their total capacity came. Ammunition could not be procured, British ammunition was not available, and the Dutch stores only held shells for the 15 cm guns used by the Dutch fleet, which were not used by the Perth 15.2 cm (6  inch ) guns could be used. There was no ammunition for the Houston either. On the evening of February 28 at around 7 p.m., Perth and Houston left port; for unknown reasons , the destroyer Evertsen followed on its own course an hour later.

According to reconnaissance reports, the Sunda Strait should be free of enemies, but in fact a Japanese invasion fleet was on its way to Bantam Bay , where they intended to land on March 1st. At around 11 p.m. the two cruisers encountered the convoy, which led to the battle in the Sunda Strait with the heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma , the light cruiser Natori and nine destroyers. During the battle, the two Allied cruisers managed to get some hits on the Japanese transports and warships, which in turn concentrated their fire on the Houston . The Perth was initially undamaged, but then Captain Waller decided, because the ammunition was almost completely exhausted, to force the breakthrough through the Sunda Strait at top speed and set course for Toppers Island . The cruiser had barely finished changing course when it was hit by four torpedoes and sank a short time later. Shortly thereafter, the Houston sank too .

Of the total of 681 people on board, 357 died, including Captain Waller. Another 104 died in Japanese captivity . Official Australian war painter Murray Griffin was among those captured .

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