‘The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast’

The Battle of Sunda Strait and the sinking of HMAS Perth and USS Houston

Fragment from ‘The Java Gold’

…The Java Sea had now become a death-trap to Allied ships and the captains of the heavy cruisers USS ‘Houston’ and HMAS ‘Perth’ were eager to escape and to sail for the relative safety of Tjilatjap on Java’s south coast.

Admiral Helfrich’s naval intelligence staff warned them of a second Japanese invasion fleet approaching Western Java. They urged them to sail an evasive northerly course, first towards the Borneo coast, then due west, hugging the Sumatra shoreline. Thus they might be able to sneak unobserved through the dangerous Sunda strait choke point.

Unfortunately, they next visited Admiral Hugh Palliser, senior British commander present, who did not share the Dutch view. He and his staff advised the commanders to take their vulnerable and unprotected cruisers on a straight, high-speed dash for the Sunda strait and the freedom of the Indian Ocean

It all ended in disaster. Perth and Houston ran into a superior Japanese fleet and both ships were sunk. Captain Hector Wallace and Captain Al Rooks went down with their ships…


And since that time,USS Houston (here seen on a visit to Hawaii) is nicknamed ‘The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast’

I added a description of the ‘Battle of Sunda Strait’ under ‘Military Background’



About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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