|War at Sea: In Harm's Way|
|by Paul Rohrbaugh|
The Allied cause in the South Pacific is breaking. Reeling from their defeat at the Battle of the Java Sea, U.S., British, Dutch and Australian vessels are scattered. Singapore has fallen, the Philippines are overrun, and Bataan’s U.S. garrison is coming under increasing pressure.
In the final days of February, intelligence arrives the Japanese have leveled their crosshairs on Borneo. The U.S. Heavy Cruiser Houston, Australian Light Cruiser Perth and Royal Netherlands Navy Destroyer Evertsen are dispatched to intercept the invasion force. Amazingly, on the evening of March 1st, the Allied vessels evade enemy destroyer screens and pounce upon Japanese transports as they unload their cargo…
War at Sea- In Harm's Way: The Battle of Sunda Strait
Note: This scenario makes use of the all sea maps of the Two Player Starter Set.
Scenario WAS-2: In Harm's Way - The Battle of Sunda Strait (4.2 MB zipped.pdf)
Although the Fubuki discovered the Houston and Perth moving into Bantan Bay where the transports were unloading, the Allied cruisers evaded the nine torpedoes it launched and then went in guns blazing. The Allied attack caught the Japanese invasion force completely flat-footed. Very quickly one transport was sunk (the invasion headquarters ship, Sakura Maru) and three others beached themselves. In the confusion, several Japanese vessels sustained severe damage from friendly fire. Firing solutions aboard Japanese vessels were repeatedly frustrated when torpedoes, coming from multiple vessels and directions, had to be avoided (some not at all by the stationary transports) in the confined waters of the strait and bay.
The battle could only have one ending, however, as the Japanese Escort Force, now thoroughly alerted and maddened, closed in for the kill. The Perth succumbed first around 1:25 AM when she went under, overwhelmed by multiple torpedo and heavy shell hits. The Houston battled on for another 10 minutes. Shellfire wrecked the bridge and killed her captain, Albert Rooks, shortly before the ship was hit by three torpedoes. Japanese destroyers moved into point-blank range and ruthlessly machine-gunned the cruiser’s escaping crew as she sank at half-past midnight, the ship’s ensign still flying. Only 368 of the 1,061 aboard the Houston, 352 of Perth’s company of 686, survived the battle. Many of them did not survive the war, dying as slave laborers at the hands of their enraged captors. The complete tale of the Houston and Perth’s valiant fight did not become known until after the war when the few remaining survivors told their stories. Captain Rooks received posthumously the Medal of Honor for his and his crew’s extraordinary heroism. Houston Chaplain George Rentz was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross—the only Navy Chaplain to be so honored during World War II. The crew of the Houston is honored alongside that of the Perth at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia.