2 RAN SHIPS MISSING
Presumed loss of the Australian warships HMAS
Perth, cruiser, and HMAS Yarra, sloop, in waters around Java, with 833 men on board, was officially announced by Mr. Curtin, Prime
Minister, last night.
HMAS Perth had a complement of 682, including 45
officers, 6 RAAF, 627 ratings, and 4 canteen staff. HMAS Yarra personnel consisted of 8 officers, 142 ratings, and one canteen staff.
Capt. H. M. L. Waller was commander of HMAS Perth and Lt.-Cdr. R. W. Rankin commanded HMAS Yarra.
In making the announce- ment Mr. Curtin said:-
"Information has been re- ceived from the Naval Board
that HMAS Perth and HMAS Yarra are overdue on their re
turn to Australia from waters around Java. In view of cir cumstances surrounding opera- tions in that area it is with deep regret that I announce
that these 2 ships must be pre- sumed lost. An enemy claim to this effect was made in the case of HMAS Perth some days ago. At that time, however, the Naval Board had no infor- mation to substantiate this.
"The position then was that HMAS Perth had fought suc- cessfully and unharmed in the battle in the Java Sea. She had returned to a Javanese port after that battle. From that port she reported to the Naval Board, from her personal observation during the battle, the severe losses inflicted on the enemy by Allied naval
"Subsequently HMAS Perth and HMAS Yarra sailed from Java for an Australian port. They have not arrived, and nothing has been heard from them. It must therefore be presumed that the ships are lost. There is no news of
survivors, but it is conceivable, in the narrow waters in which
they were operating, that
members of the crews of both ships managed to make their way to shore or were picked up by other ships.
"With so much of the area In enemy hands communica- tion is naturally difficult. It may be some time before further news, if any, is re- ceived, but any information that does arrive will be made public immediately.
"Next of kin of personnel have been informed. My Go- vernment and the Naval Board extend to them our sincere sympathy in their anxiety. They know that with it is joined the sympathy of the whole nation."
PERTH'S STIRRING CAREER
HMAS Perth, formerly HMS Amphion, was taken over by the 'Royal Australian Navy from the Royal Navy, and commissioned on June 20, 1939, under Captain H. D. Farncomb, at Portsmouth.
She was rechristened HMAS Perth by the Duchess of Kent In July, 1939.
A cruiser of the modified Leander class, HMAS Perth was of 7,000 tons, 560 feet long, and of 56ft. 8in. beam, with engines of 72,000-h.p. She had a speed of 32 knots. Launched in 1934, she was completed in 1936. Her main armament consisted of 8 6 in. guns, 4 4in., and 8 21in. tor- pedo tubes. She carried an air-
Leaving Portsmouth in July
CAPT. H. M. L. WALLER, DSO,
who was in command of HMAS
1929, for Australia, via America and the Panama Canal, she re- presented Australia at the New York World Fair. Shortly after leaving New York the war broke out, and on the voyage to Aus- tralia she undertook patrol and escort duties in the Western Atlantic Ocean.
She reached Sydney on March 31, 1940, after 177 days at sea, during which she travelled 52,262 miles.
In June, 1940, Captain Sir Phillip Bowyer-Smyth assumed command of HMAS Perth, and after a period of duty In Aus- tralian waters, the ship joined the Mediterranean Fleet under Admiral Sir Andrew Cunnlng ham. She took part in the Battle of Matapan, and was en- gaged in operations off Libya, giving support by bombard- ments from the sea; she assis- ted in the evacuation of Greece and of Crete. During the Syrian campaign she participated in the naval bombardment of Vichy batteries, and troops in
Wadi Damour area.
During operations at Crete HMAS Perth suffered her first damage and casualties. She suffered very heavy bombing attacks, being bombed on one day solidly for 7 hours, and for 13 hours continuously on the following day. A little later she suffered a direct hit from a bomb, which killed 4 of her
In October, last year, after her return to Australia, Cap- tain H. M. L. Waller assumed command.
YARRA SERVED IN PERSIAN GULF
HMAS Yarra, a Grimsby type sloop, was laid down at Cockatoo Island on May 24, 1934, launched on March 28, 1935, completed in October, 1935, and commissioned at Syd- ney on June 21, 1936. Of 1,060 tons, HMAS Yarra was 266ft. long, 36ft. in beam, and had engines of 2,000-horse power. Her speed was 16½ knots. Her main armament consisted of 3 4-inch guns.