Second World War, 1939-1945
Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain
This item is in the Public Domain
Portrait of C A Pethebridge
Studio portrait of W2164 (W/2164) Stoker Charles Alexander Pethebridge, HMAS Perth. He enlisted in Melbourne, Victoria, and on completion of training was assigned to HMAS Perth on 2 January 1942. His vessel was sunk on 1 March 1942 during the Battle of the Sunda Strait and Stoker Pethebridge became a prisoner of war initially in Batavia and subsequently on the Burma Thailand Railway. On completion of the railway many of the prisoners were sent to Japan. Stoker Pethebridge endured a second sinking when the Japanese prison ship in which he was travelling, the Rakuyo Maru, was torpedoed by the United States Navy submarine USS Pampanito on 12 September 1944. He escaped the sinking ship on a life raft with a number of survivors and 'during the ordeal that followed Pethebridge left this raft on several occasions, without a life-belt, to go to the help of those who through physical weakness could not prevent themselves from slipping in to the sea' before he was taken by a shark. For his actions in rescuing up to 20 men he was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal (Bronze) and is the only Australian so awarded during the Second World War. He was aged 21 years.