Image copyright: Copyright expired - public domain,
Public Domain Mark This image is in the Public Domain

ID number 005002/13
Collection Photograph
Object type Black & white - Film original negative 35mm nitrate
Photographer Parer, Damien Peter
Date made 31 December 1940


Informal portrait of Captain Hector Macdonald Laws 'Hec' Waller DSO RAN, smoking a pipe on the bridge of HMAS Stuart. Captain Waller, took command of HMAS Perth on 24 October 1941. On the night of 28 February 1942 the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth, together with the USS Houston, encountered a large Japanese force near Batavia (now Jakarta). By chance, the two cruisers had met the Japanese invasion force assigned to western Java. A fierce five hour fight ensued until, out-numbered and out-gunned, HMAS Perth was sunk at about 12.25 am on 1 March after being struck by five torpedoes and a number of shells. The Houston, still fighting but ablaze, was also hit by torpedoes and sank shortly afterwards. Of the Perth's company of 686, only 218 (including one civilian and two RAAF personnel) were ever to return to Australia; the remainder were killed during, or soon after the action, or died as prisoners of war. Captain Waller was lost with his ship.