The Australian Cruiser Perth 1939-1942
For all but a few months from her commissioning in June 1939 to her sinking in March 1942, the Australian light cruiser Perth was engaged in wartime operations against the forces of Germany, Italy, Vichy France, and Japan. She served in the West Indies, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Mediterranean, and the Java Sea. Her operations included the blockading of German merchant ships in neutral ports, escorting vital troop convoys to the Middle East, attacking shore positions in Libya and Syria, and providing air defense of convoys, especially from the feared Stuka dive bombers of the German Luftwaffe. The Perth participated in several pivotal battles, especially Matapan and Java Sea, and in the evacuation of Commonwealth forces from Greece and Crete in April-May 1941. Despite all this active service, up until the ship's sinking, it had lost fewer than a dozen of its company to enemy action. Using diaries kept by members of the ship's company to supplement British, Australian, German, Italian, and Japanese official sources, Ian Pfennigwerth has provided a picture of the men who contributed to the ship's proud record and the conditions under which they did so. He describes how the unshakable bonds of trust between crew members were developed and forged in the crucible of ferocious attacks by the enemy, even into the ship's last desperate battle against a superior Japanese force. This sustained the survivors in the ordeal of imprisonment and mistreatment that was to follow. The book is a story of adventure and courage in adversity, written as a tribute by a former commanding officer of the cruiser's namesake, the guided missile destroyer Perth II.
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