HMAS PERTH escorted convoys and patrolled the Aegean with H.M.S. AJAX and then arrived at Piraeus on 5th April.
The next day the Germans invaded Greece and Piraeus was subject
to severe air attack. The ammunition ship Clan Fraser, moored
200 yards from PERTH, was hit and exploded with such an
appalling explosion that it wrecked most of the port. The
explosion lifted PERTH out of the water and snapped several
of her mooring lines. PERTH sailed with a
convoy to Suda Bay and then on to Alexandria.
On the 20th April, PERTH sailed with the battlefleet to
bombard Tripoli and then continued on to Suda Bay. The evacuation
of troops from Greece was about to begin.
the 22nd April, PERTH suffered another casualty. Donald HADDOW, a
diver, had been working on the wreck of HMS YORK in Suda Bay. He had
finished a dive and had removed his helmet but not his lead boots. A
bombing raid had started and a bomb landed near the dive tender causing
it to capsize. Unfortunately Diver HADDOW was thrown into the water and
the weight of his boots caused him to drown.
Leaving Suda Bay on
the 23rd April, PERTH patrolled the Aegean and then
evacuated troops at Port Rafti. She then evacuated troops
from Navplion and Tolos before sailing to Alexandria with H.M.S.
BARHAM. On 28/9th she was evacuating troops at Kalamata
and while returning to Alexandria was attacked by Italian E-Boats
From the 6th to 10th May she covered convoys before returning
to Alexandria. On the 15th she left with the battlefleet
to bombard Derna but ran into such a heavy German air attack that
they were forced to return to Alexandria
HMAS PERTH at Alexandria May 1941
On the 20th May 1941, the Germans invaded Crete. PERTH was attacked in the Kaso Strait off western Crete by E-Boats
and bombers. The bombing continued without a break from
8am to 3pm and the destroyer H.M.S. JUNO was sunk.
The next night, north of Crete, PERTH sank some small ships
carrying invasion troops. Later patrolling off Heraklion
north of Crete she sank a small caique carrying German troops
but came under three hours of intense air attack. This prevented
her reaching a German troop convoy which however had already turned back.
PERTH now joined the battlefleet in Kithera Strait N.W
of Crete but despite the additional firepower the air attacks
became overwhelming with the cruisers FIJI and GLOUCESTER both being sunk when they ran out of ammunition. PERTH had only 100 rounds left and was forced to return to
Alexandria with the battlefleet. The allies had lost 4 cruisers,
8 destroyers, sunk and 1 carrier, 3 battleships,6 cruisers,
4 destroyers damaged.
From the 24th to 28th May, PERTH remained in Alexandria
then sailed for Sphakia on Crete to evacuate troops. Returning
on the 30th she was attacked by a German aircraft. She managed
to avoid the bombs however one bomb released late, striking
the ship and killing 4 sailors and 4 soldiers. This
was the only direct hit suffered by PERTH while in the
The four sailors killed were:
FRASER W.B. 21320 Cook
SMITH H.C. 23735 Cook
SMITH H.C.W/1621 Stoker
STRAKER H. 22535 Stoker.
PERTH underwent repairs at Alexandria and on 25th June, sailed for Haifa
in Syria. This area was occupied by Vichy French troops
fighting with the Germans. She patrolled between Damour
and Beirut and shelled a French gun battery at Khalde before returning
to Haifa. On 2nd July she bombarded Damour, destroying
four French gun batteries at Abey Ridge and Nth Damour. PERTH was commended for her accurate gunnery.
Returning to Haifa to refuel, she was bombed by friendly planes
but not hit. She continued patrols off Damour and on the
7th July was at Haifa when it was attacked by German planes who
dropped bombs and mines. After a few more patrols off the
Syrian coast, PERTH returned to Alexandria with HMS's
NAIAD and PHOEBE.
The RAAf crew of the ships aircraft re-embarked on the 17th July. On the 18th July,1941, PERTH
left Alexandria and the Mediterranean
for Australia. On 19th July she re-embarked her catapult
at Port Said and then proceeded down the Suez canal, picking up her
Walrus aircraft at Lake Timsah*. She arrived at Fremantle
on 6th August and Sydney on 12th August 1941.