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Navy commemorates Battle of Sunda Strait

Australian and US personnel involved in the World War II battle have been honoured at a ceremony in Melbourne.

Australian and US personnel involved in the World War II battle have been honoured at a ceremony in Melbourne.

The Battle of Sunda Strait — a naval battle that took place during World War II in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra — was commemorated last week at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

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On 28 February 1942, Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the United States’ heavy cruiser USS Houston fought together against an Imperial Japanese Navy task force.

Both HMAS Perth and USS Houston were sunk by enemy vessels, while five Japanese ships sunk — three of which sunk as a result of friendly fire.

Onboard HMAS Perth’ were 681 personnel, of which 324 survived the battle with many held as prisoners of war. Just 218 men returned home to Australia at the end of World War II. 

The catafalque party from HMAS Cerberus presided over the ceremony.

Senior Naval Officer Victoria Commodore Greg Yorke, who delivered the address, acknowledged the families and friends of personnel.

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“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,” CDRE 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, who represented the US Consulate General Melbourne, noted the close bond between Australia and the US.  

“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,” Bloom said. 

A floral tribute was laid at the Perth and Houston plaques by Dennis Abbey and Barry McDaniel following the service.

[Related; Army, Navy mark 120-year anniversary]

Navy commemorates Battle of Sunda Strait
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