A Prisoner of War's story David Manning was a young naval officer in training when he was pitched into the ordeal of becoming a prisoner of war of the Japanese.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan. That David Manning became a prisoner of the Japanese during World War Two at all was as much down to bad luck as to the general ebb and flow of history. Doing a gunnery training course as part of his naval officer training on the light cruiser HMAS Perth, the 17 year old midshipman found himself part of an action that became known as the Battle of the Java Sea. Heavily engaged: HMAS Perth in camouflage strip circa 1941. Perth was one of the most actively engaged RAN ships of WWII. Photo: Geoffrey Ward. "It was supposed to be a fairly short sojourn," says Mr Manning, now 93. "The executive officer of the ship came around and spoke to me just a few days before (the engagements) and told me I'd be heading back to the FND (Flinders Naval Depot). "Didn't happen. We got sunk." On February 27, 1942, a combined flotilla of Dutch, US, British and Australian ships engaged a far larger Japanese invasion force acting as a screen for a convoy of troops heading to Java. HMAS Perth was the sole representative of the Royal Australian Navy. Outnumbered and massively outgunned, it was a devastating defeat for the Allies. Only Perth and the destroyer USS Houston escaped the battle relatively unscathed and fuelled. Karel Doorman, the Dutch admiral commanding the force, was killed when his flagship De Ruyter was destroyed by a Japanese torpedo. Perth's captain Hector Waller ordered the two remaining ships to withdraw to Tanjung Priok, on the island of Java. After their arrival, refueling but not rearming, orders came to sail through the Sunda Strait. They expected to encounter nothing more than Australian corvettes patrolling. Instead, in another stroke of unbelievable bad luck, the two ships ran straight into 78 Japanese ships an Imperial convoy escorted by the 5th Destroyer Flotilla and the 7th Cruiser Division. At 11 o'clock in the evening, Perth opened fire on a Japanese destroyer, drawing down the fire (and 87 torpedoes) of the enemy fleet. David Manning was on a 4 inch anti aircraft gun mounting when the action, which lasted just over an hour, began. One of two: David Manning with a picture of himself in 1937 at the age of 13, as buy ray ban glasses online a naval cadet aboard HMAS Vampire. Mr Manning is one of two crew of the Perth still alive. Picture: Lachlan Bence. "It was more of a dogfight than an action," ray ban sunglasses discount says Mr Manning. "It was very close. On occasions our machine guns were firing at Japanese destroyers, it was that close. "(The end) was inevitable. It took them an hour and a half to sink us; we had no ammunition left. We were firing star shells on a low trajectory in the hope of starting a fire." Mr Manning was blown into the water when a fourth torpedo struck the Perth. After hours in the water clinging to wreckage, he was picked up by other crew in a Japanese lifeboat from a ray ban sunglasses for mens sunk enemy troopship. Told by the Japanese they would not be rescued unless they discarded their oil soaked clothes, the 40 men in the boat stripped naked, "except the padre couldn't bear to take his shirt off." Over half were lost: some of the crew of HMAS Perth in 1940. The survivors then watched aghast as the rescuing destroyer steamed away. The next 27 hours they spent fighting strong ocean currents with four tiny oars, before beaching on Java. "The first thing everybody did was dug for a bit of water in the sand above ray ban aviators cheap the high water mark, and then they just crashed. Two blokes died overnight." The group split and Mr Manning headed south. Still naked, a villager gave him some cloth to cover himself. Told the Dutch army were in the West Java hills, the sailors marched up, only to discover the Japanese. "We were herded into the local gaol by the villagers, and I fell asleep straight away, bang," says Mr Manning. "I was awakened by a gentleman screaming at me in a language I couldn't understand and poking me with a bayonet. "And my first thought was, 'he's not yellow he's brown!'" The prisoners were taken to a town called Serang and crammed into a picture theatre from which the seating had been stripped. "That was a hell on Earth. We had to squat all day, not allowed to talk, not allowed to move, one meal a day.
"The Japanese army counted us four times a day and got a different answer every time. Toilets were a hole dug in the yard.".
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