IJN Haguro April 1936
(Courtesy of Irootoko Digital Color Photos)

  PERTH left Batavia on the 24th for Surabaya to join the combined American-British-Dutch -Australian fleet ( ABDA ) under the command of Dutch Admiral Karel Doorman.   The ships had not exercised together before and communications and signalling between ships was very awkward.   The fleet left Surabaya on the night of 26th February to search for the Japanese Invasion Fleet but were unable to locate them.  The next day Japanese ships were reported  to the north and at 4.12pm contact was made.The battle was fought in two stages

                             For the early part of the battle the Japanese were out of range of PERTH's guns  but at 4.25pm she opened fire on Jap destroyers off her starboad bow.  At 4.37pm she came under intense and accurate fire from the Japanese 8" cruisers NACHI and HAGURO.    HMS EXETER was hit at 5.14pm and immediately lost speed and  PERTH was forced to swerve quickly to avoid a collision.  PERTH immediately circled EXETER laying a protective smokescreen. At 5.40pm HMS ELECTRA was hit by gunfire and sank soon after. At 5.45pm the NACHI and HAGURO appeared through the smokescreen.  The light  cruiser NAKA and destroyers  were even closer.   In the exchange of fire, PERTH  appeared to have scored hits on HAGURO but this was incorrect.  At 6.30pm the Japanese retired and were lost from view.

IJN Nachi

                  At 7.15pm a Japanese aircraft dropped flares illuminating PERTH and the other ships and fifteen minutes later PERTH opened fire on destroyers delivering a torpedo attack on her port side.  The destroyer HMS JUPITER hit what was thought to have been a Dutch mine and exploded and sank at 9.25pm.  PERTH passed by survivors from HMS ELECTRA at 10.15pm but was under orders not to stop and attempt rescue.  At 10.30pm PERTH and HOUSTON once again began an exchange of fire with NACHI and HAGURO and at the same time the IJN destroyers delivered another torpedo attack.   

The allied cruisers were steaming in line ahead led by De RUYTER, then PERTH, HOUSTON, JAVA. Just after 11pm NACHI and HAGURO fired torpedoes hitting both JAVA and De RUYTERJAVA blew up an with appalling explosion. Her stern broke off and she sank in fifteen minutes with the loss of of over 500 men. PERTH had to swerve violently to avoid colliding with De RUYTER. De RUYTER stayed afloat for nearly another two hours before sinking. Admiral Doorman and 344 of his crew were lost in the sinking.

PERTH and HOUSTON now broke off the action and headed for Tanjong Priok, the port of Batavia.

IJN Naka 1942


De Ruyter

Witte De With

Witte De With

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