While researching files in the Australian Archives, historian
John Bradford of Adelaide discovered that, in 1947, the
Netherlands Government wished to posthumously award the Knighthood
of the " Militaire Willems-Ord" to Capt.Waller for his "courageous
and masterly actions" in the Battles of the Java Sea and Sunda
Strait. This award is the highest gallantry award that the
Netherlands can bestow upon a foreign subject.
Government of the day declined the offer stating that they were
governed by the rules of Imperial Honours which did not allow
for posthumous awards by a foreign power.
In 1997 John, with two former members of Perth's crew, asked authorities
to see if the awards could be reactivated to coincide with the
launching of the new "Collins" Class submarine HMAS WALLER.
However enquiries revealed that the Netherlands ceased awards
to foreign subjects in 1952.
It might well be asked why posthumous awards were not allowed
to be made to Capt. Waller by the Netherlands, when Capt. E Dechaineux
and LCDR J.Band of the RAN were permitted , by the Australian
Government, to receive posthumous awards from the USA in apparent
contravention of the Imperial Honors system.
Capt.A.H. Rooks of the USS Houston was posthumously awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest US bravery award.
Why was no VC awarded to Waller?
The archives provide some clues. In Mar. 1945, The Minister
for the Navy Mr. Makin, spoke in glowing terms of Waller's bravery
in Perth's last fight to the Australian Parliament but despite
this, no request for a VC was ever forwarded to the Board of Admiralty
by the Government and none was forthcoming from the Australian
Naval Board (ANB). In fact, in a submission in Nov. 1945
by the ANB to the Admiralty for bravery awards to Perth crew members,
Waller's name was omitted.
In Jan. 1946 the Admiralty asked the ANB if Waller's name should
have been included and the Board agreed to add his name to the
list. Waller received a Mention in Despatches. It
seems that, had the Admiralty not prompted the ANB, Waller may
have received no awards at all. Had the ANB recommended
a VC for Waller in Nov. 1945, then it is highly probable the
Admiralty would have agreed.
The above actions reflect very poorly on the Government of the
day and even more so on the members of the Australian Naval Board.
This information , which has only just seen the light
of day, must come as a complete surprise to former Perth crew
Condensed from information supplied by John Bradford )
John's website is at: http://users.picknowl.com.au/~wjb718/default.htm