1942 Remembered

The year 1942 will be remembered many times throughout 2017 as we reflect on 75 years of World War Two and the various battles that were taking place across the world.

February 27 is the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Java Sea, a key naval battle of the Pacific campaign in World War Two.  In February 1942, a “Combined Striking Force” was established for the protection of the Java Sea and Australia from the advancing Japanese.  Under the command of Dutch Rear Admiral Karel Doorman, the force comprised of Dutch cruisers HMNLS Java and De Ruyter, US cruiser USS Houston, British cruiser HMS Exeter and the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth, situated between the Indonesian islands of Borneo, Java and Sumatra.

On 27 February, Doorman’s force attempted to intercept the Japanese “Eastern Invasion Force” comprising of 14 destroyers that were tasked to escort 41 transport vessels.  At approximately 4pm the two forces met in a battle that lasted most of the night.  To read the full story please visit http://anzaccentenary.sa.gov.au/story/75th-anniversary-of-the-battle-of-the-java-sea/

March 1 is the 75th Anniversary of HMAS Perth sinking in the Sunda Strait.  As a result of the battle above, the two surviving cruisers, HMAS Perth and USS Houston, attempted to withdraw from the region to Ceylon, but unfortunately encountered the “Western Invasion Force”, another Japanese fleet, and were sunk on the same evening.   Of the Perth’s company of 686, which included four civilian canteen staff and six RAAF personnel for operating and servicing her aircraft, only 218 (including one civilian and two RAAF) were eventually repatriated; the remainder were killed during, or soon after, the action, or died as prisoners of war.

Our image is a painting of HMAS Perth in the Battle of Sunda Strait, courtesy of the AWM.