The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Charles Tregear, HMAS Perth, Second World War.

Places
Accession Number AWM2020.1.1.58
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 27 February 2020
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use
Description

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Charles Tregear, HMAS Perth, Second World War.

Speech transcript

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Charles Tregear, HMAS Perth
KIA 1 March 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Charles Tregear.

Alleyne Tregear was born in Melbourne on 2 February 1903.
After attending Geelong Grammar, Tregear attained a bachelor degree of dental science at University of Melbourne.

After a period practising as a dentist in Horsham, Victoria, he joined the Royal Australian Navy on 4 January 1927.
Tregear began his naval career with the rank of surgeon lieutenant at HMAS Cerberus, an RAN base just south of Melbourne which served as the primary training establishment for naval personnel.

After periods at HMAS Penguin and Platypus in Sydney, on 10 December 1930 he married Kathleen Estelle Young at the Presbyterian Church in Horsham. The couple went on to have a daughter, Barbara, who was born in 1934.
By then, “Doc” as he was known, had been promoted to surgeon lieutenant commander.

After a period serving on HMAS Australia, in 1935 he joined the recommissioned HMAS Brisbane, which sailed for England with a complement which formed the balance of the ship’s company of the new HMAS Sydney.

On Brisbane and then Sydney, Tregear was noted as being “a reliable and capable officer”, and “of a cheerful disposition and a pleasant messmate”. He acted as secretary of the wardroom mess, which did much to increase his shipmates’ opinion of him.

On 11 October 1941 Tregear joined HMAS Perth, one of three modified Leander-class light cruisers used by the RAN during the early part of World War II.

By then, Perth had patrolled the Western Atlantic and the Caribbean in search of German shipping and escorting convoys. Perth transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet and helped to escort convoys to Malta, and played a role in the Battle of Cape Matapan. Perth escorted convoys to Greece and Crete and helped to evacuate Allied troops in the face of the victorious Axis forces, and was badly damaged by Axis aircraft during the evacuation of Crete.

Tregear joined Perth after it had returned to Australia for permanent repairs, with Captain Hector Waller now assuming command. Early in 1942, Perth sailed from Sydney, joining an escort for a convoy of four oil tankers and two cargo vessels on a mission to claim oil from the Dutch East Indies before the Japanese invaded.

The Japanese invasion was as swift as it was effective. Two weeks after the fall of Singapore, Perth and the heavy cruiser USS Houston were making their way along the northern coast of Java, the only large Allied ships to have survived the Battle of the Java Sea the day before.

They had retreated and attempted to resupply, having been ordered to sail for Tjilatjap via the Sunda Strait.
On evening of 28 February, they encountered the Japanese western invasion convoy at the northern entrance to the Sunda Strait, escorted by a large Japanese flotilla of two light cruisers, eight destroyers and a minelayer, supported by another four cruisers, an aircraft carrier and further destroyers.

Heavily outnumbered, running low on ammunition and changing course constantly to avoid attacks from every direction, the Australian and American crews fought against impossible odds.

Together they sank a Japanese transport and a minesweeper, then severely damaged a further three transports. But given the weight of numbers and superior firepower of the Japanese force, the result was inevitable.
Perth suffered her first hit from a Japanese shell at 11.26 pm. Half an hour later, Captain “Hec” Waller ordered his ship to try to force a way through. But with her crew reduced to firing practice shells and illumination starshells, Captain Waller was forced to give the order to abandon ship.

Perth was hit by two more torpedoes before sinking shortly after midnight. USS Houston continued to fight on, sinking 20 minutes later.

Perth lost 350 officers and men including her commander, Captain Hector Waller DSO, and Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Tregear, who was 39 years old.
His name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Alleyne Charles Tregear, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Duncan Beard
Editor, Military History Section

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