Contributor: Dan K.
Review Date: 27 Aug 2008
Ever have it where you find a book and buy it but don't get around to reading it right away? Well, I found this book in a tiny book store where all the covers and titles are obscure and relatively unknown. The title, Proud Echo, caught my attention so I bought it and put it on a shelf for some "later" reading. When I got around to this book and started it, I found myself reading it well into the night and picking it up early the next morning, the story is that well told, to me anyways.
This is the story about some survivors from the sinking of the HMAS Perth and the USS Houston in the Battle of Sunda Strait, both during and after the engagement. Having not seen many books on this particular engagement I was intrigued to say the least.
The book starts out with the Battle of Java Sea in which the Allies lost some of their capital ships. The description of the battle is fairly easy to follow. The surviving ships limp into Batavia and restock on foods and ammo. The decision is made to force a passage through Sunda Strait and the ships leave port after only a short time there. On the way they encounter the Japanese invasion force for Java and a fierce naval engagement begins. The Perth and Houston take the brunt of the barrage and go to the bottom, both with heavy loss of life. The chapters continue with the survivors in the water and a few being rescued by a Japanese destroyer and a few making land. Many did not survive their time in the water, while others perished in the POW camps.
The chapters continue with the survivors either being helped or betrayed by local tribesmen or Dutch civil servants. There are some humorous portions, like when some of the survivors are in front of a Japanese officer and come to find out that he is also a survivor of the Sunda Strait battle in which either Perth or Houston had sunk his ship. The survivors end up being treated quite well until they are turned over to the POW camps.
There are some hand drawn, black and white pictures through out the book as well as a diagram of the HMAS Perth. A one page map also came in handy when the island chain is being described.
If you can find this book, which shouldn't be too expensive (mine was $2) I highly recommend you pick it up.
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