of the crew lost in the sinking of H.M.A.S. PERTH were
in the water when the third and fourth torpedoes hit and
were killed by the explosions. Those who survived
were swept around St.Nicholas Point on the northwest
tip of Java by the strong current either swimming, clinging
to floating debris, or rafts and damaged lifeboats.
They then entered the Sunda Strait which separates
Java and Sumatra.
Some managed to overcome the strong current and get
ashore on Toppers or Sangiang Islands while others
were swept through the Strait and out into the Indian Ocean
and never seen again.
A Japanese destroyer also rescued some
survivors who were in a lifeboat in the Strait. The unidentified destroyer stood by from 0900 to Noon while the lifeboat made numerous trips, collecting 188 survivors and bringing them back to the ship. These men were then transferred to two other destroyers and conveyed to Bantam Bay where they were placed on the transport
( Report for Commonwealth Naval Board 23 Sep 1945)
on Toppers and Sangiang repaired boats or constructed rafts.
One boat managed to sail to the southern coast of Sumatra
where the crew was captured and spent the rest of the war
in a POW camp at Palembang. Another boat sailed across
the strait to Java and another through the strait and down
the south coast to Tjiltjap. Both of these boat parties
Some of those who made it ashore to Java died of
wounds. ERA D.A.Smith was killed by hostile natives on the 6th Mar on
the road beween Anjer and Labuan. Four other crewmen were also wounded
in similar attacks*. Most of those captured
on Java ended up in Selarang Gaol until April 1942
they were transferred to "Bicycle Camp" in
A few were sent directly to Japan to work in the
*Nat.Archives File: MP1185/9 - 567/201/82
October 1942 most of the PERTH survivors, accompanied
Col John Williams C.O. of the 2/2nd Pioneers (Williams Force),
left Java for Burma. This group included men of the 2/2nd Pioneers and comprised 884 men.
arrived at Thanbyuzayat, Burma, and became part of
3 Group, moved to Tanyin 35 kilo camp first. Camp Commandant
Lt Yamada was one of the best and tolerant Japanese Officers
on the Railway who respected Col Williams, unfortunately
he was later moved. The Medical Officer was Ear Nose &
Throat Specialist Lt Col Eadie. In March 1943 with Anderson
Force, they moved back to the 26 Kilo camp Kunknikway, here
they were to come under the control of the unpredictable
drunkard Lt Naito. On April 4th they commenced the work
of laying the rails & sleepers through to where the
two ends joined on 17 October 1943 known as No 1 Mobile
Force. It should be noted that in all Australian camps on
the Burma end of the Railway, Officers accompanied the men
on the work parties and actively intervened to protect the
men from punishment, often taking the bashing themselves.
This was very much the rule in Williams and Anderson Forces
where the Officers had won the respect of the men in action
in Syria, Java & Malaya, Col Anderson won his Victoria
Cross in the Malaya fighting.
January 1943 another group of PERTH survivors left
Java for Burma. Near Moulmein their convoy was attacked
by Liberator bombers of the 10th U.S.A.A.F. The NICHIMEI
MARU was sunk and MOJI MARU was hit and two
PERTH crewmen, George McCredie and Rob Smith, died
later from injuries received. This group of survivors commenced
work at the 18 Kilo Camp.
By September 1944 the Japanese were starting to send the
P.O.Ws by ship to Japan to work in the mines. Unfortunately
many of theses ships were sunk by U.S. submarines who were
unaware that they carried prisoners Many P.O.W.s
were killed and on 12th Sept 1944, 33 PERTH crew
were lost in the sinking of the RAKUYO MARU after
it was attacked by U.S.submarines. As luck would
have it four PERTH survivors were picked up by
the U.S. submarine QUEENFISH and returned to Australia.
first PERTH death on the Burma Railway occured
in March 1943. In all 58 surivors died while constructing
the railway. The biggest loss was at 55 Kilo camp where
13 men died.