A visit to Western Australia by Second World War veteran, and HMAS Perth (I) survivor, Mr David Manning, provided a unique opportunity to unite a legacy with the current HMAS Perth and her namesake city.
Mr Manning was in town on a family holiday and the event came about after his daughter contacted the ship. City of Perth Lord Mayor, Lisa Scaffidi, said she was delighted to host 94-year-old Mr Manning, his wife Audrey, and their daughter Dawn, together with the current Perth’s Commanding Officer Captain Ivan Ingham.
Mr Manning, a long time resident of Magpie near Ballarat, is one of only four survivors still alive from the Second World War light cruiser Perth (I) which was lost on 1 March 1942 during the Battle of Sunda Strait.
Together with his shipmates, Mr Manning, who was an 18-year-old gunner at the time, fought courageously during the battle which saw his ship and US Navy Cruiser USS Houston, engage a Japanese invasion fleet consisting of more than 75 ships.
After taking a number of direct hits from Japanese naval gunfire, and having been fatally struck by three torpedoes, Perth (I) eventually sank after being hit by a fourth torpedo.
That night, 353 sailors and officers were killed during the action and subsequent sinking of Perth, Houston was also lost. Both allied ships sank with no ammunition remaining.
One of 328 survivors, Mr Manning managed to make it ashore to Java with 60 shipmates.
After trekking through the jungle, the survivors were eventually captured by the invading Japanese forces.
In the years that followed on the infamous Thai-Burma railway, another 106 survivors died as Japanese prisoners of war.
At the end of the war, Mr Manning was one of only 218 survivors from Perth’s ship’s company of 681 to return home to Australia.
Captain Ingham said the crew showed extreme bravery and courage in the face of overwhelming adversity.
“Mr Manning’s great courage, determination and strength of character enabled him to endure extreme hardship and ultimately survive against all the odds,” he said.
“His story provides a profoundly stirring and inspirational example to the current ship’s company.
“The legacy of all those who served in this fine ship, both in the Mediterranean and later during the Battle of Sunda Strait, is one which continues to be treasured by the current Perth and the wider Royal Australian Navy.”