RN Ships Sunk Java Sea WW2 destroyed by illegal scavenging

HMS Exeter one of the heroes of the Battle of the Rio Plata coming dockside at Plymouth in February 1940. The ship was badly damaged during the engagement in December of 1939.

The ships which have been destroyed by salvage are war graves and this is an international crime. All naval ships mentioned were sunk in February/March 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea or the following Battle of the Sundra Strait.

Ten allied ships were sunk in these engagements and more than 3,000 Allied sailors perished. Those who were captured by the Japanese were tortured, starved, beaten and some beheaded. These ships formed the naval arm of the combined ABDA Command–American, British, Dutch, Australian–led by Dutch Admiral Karel Doorman of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Operating with limited intelligence on Japanese fleet movements, without air cover, outnumbered and outgunned, Doorman and the allied ships under his command fought with great bravery and ferocity against the Japanese invaders.

Three of the sunken ships–all sunk at the Battle of the Sundra Straits— are HMS Exeter, one of the trio of ships which had thrashed the Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the Rio Plata in December of 1939, USS Houston, an American  treaty cruiser which was a favorite ship of President Roosevelt and one he used on several occasions, and HMAS Perth, an Australian light cruiser who went down at the side of the USS Houston in a point blank duel with Japanese warships.


Admiral Karel Doorman, seen here as a Lt. Commander in an official photo taken in 1930,  was killed on 28 February 1942, aboard his flagship De Ruyter, which was sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea. He was a brave man and a gallant naval warrior.

These war graves were disturbed and the ships salvaged and sold for scrap with the full knowledge of the different levels of the Indonesian government, either provincial or national. It is outrageous and offensive that the government of Indonesia has allowed this to happen and has done nothing.

Thank you to my special correspondent in New Orleans, Bob Warren, for bringing this to my attention.

From the Guardian of London

Source: British second world war ships in Java Sea destroyed by illegal scavenging

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/