CARIBBEAN
1939-1940

 

        

Kingston, Jamaica August 1939
Funnel flaps are being constructed and the ship's name on the stern is being painted over

 

 

At 10am on the 21st August 1939, HMAS PERTH anchored of Kingston, Jamaica in the West Indies.   She was to have continued her cruise back to Australia however, due to the worsening war situation, she was loaned to the R.N. and was attached to the 8th Cruiser Division based at Kingston.   Her duties here were to intercept any German vessels trying to leave neutral ports for Germany. Funnel flaps were fitted 27/28th August.

        PERTH commenced patrols on the 26th August  near the islands of Trinidad, Aruba, and Tobago off the coast of Venezuela.   On 1st September all names on the ship were painted out and cap namebands were removed when going ashore. On the 3rd September, the day war was declared, PERTH was off Curacao.   A third dummy funnel had been constructed and was used on ocassions to give the impression that there were two cruisers in the area..      

             For the rest of September patrols were carried out off Aruba and Bonaire Islands, Santo Domingo, Haiti, and the Gulf of Mexico watching for German ships trying to escape back to Germany.   On  3rd October, PERTH escorted a convoy from Kingston. On the 8th HMS BERWICK joined the convoy and they proceeded into the mid Atlantic. On the 15th the convoy was handed over to HMS EFFINGHAM and PERTH and BERWICK reversed course for Bermuda. On the 16th, she ran into a hurricane with winds reaching 120 mph.  Her depth charge racks, smoke floats , and stern rails were carried away and the port cutter smashed, and a collision with BERWICK was narrowly avoided.

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Hurricane off Bermuda 16th Oct.1939



Both ships retired to Bermuda for repairs. As PERTH's light grey color made her very conspicuous at night, she was repainted in a darker grey around the 20th October (See Camouflage page) On the 24th October PERTH intercepted radio signals from the German Pocket Battleship DEUTSCHLAND but despite a search no contact was made.

            PERTH then sailed for Halifax, Nova Scotia, in Canada to pick up a draft from Australia.  She then returned to Bermuda.  In November she carried out patrols and on the 22nd sailed through the Panama Canal into the Pacific to patrol off the west coast of Colombia.  

HMAS Perth at the Gatun Locks, Panama Canal either 22 Nov 1939 or 2 March 1940. The funnel flaps have been removed for some reason and are stowed on the deck beside the funnels

 

Returning to Kingston , she spent most of December patrolling the Yucatan Passage off Mexico before returning to Kingston for Christmas. While on patrol in this area PERTH was challenged by USS VINCENNES, TWIGGS and EVANS as to her identity, but PERTH would only reply" British Warship".

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HMAS Perth returning from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean through the Culebra Cut, Panama Canal. 29th Nov 1939

 

Christmas Card 1939

 

             January 1940 saw PERTH patrolling the Windward Passage, between Cuba and Haiti, and Hispaniola.    She returned  to the Aruba area where she patrolled for most of February finally returning to Kingston on the the 16th.  After another short patrol of Aruba she called at Kingston for the last time on 27th February.  On 29th February 1940, she left the West Indies Station and proceed through the Panama Canal bound for Australia.

After calls at Tahiti on 17th March and Fiji on the 24th, she arrived in Sydney, Australia on 31st Mar 1940.