- Letter Writer
- Biographies and personal histories, WWI operations, Letter to the Editor
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Perth I
- December 2005 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
I have just received some information from my friend Commander Andrew David RN which might be appropriate for mention in the NHS REVIEW. I have told him that I will pass it on to you and hope you can use it. He is probably the neatest living authority on the Golden Age of Hydrography.
One wonders how many other survivors owed their lives to that compassionate Japanese destroyer captain.
Extract of this letter (edited for brevity) is as follows:
There was an announcement in the Daily Telegraph of 8 Sep 05 that Commander John Alexander Harper, OBE, DSC, RN, had died on 3 Sep 2005 at his home in Tunbridge Wells (UK). John was the senior survivor of HMAS Perth when sunk by the Japanese in 1942. Have the Australian newspapers picked this up?
I got to know John reasonably well as in retirement he became a reviser of (Admiralty) Sailing Directions, under my direction. One of the other survivors was Ray Parkin, who wrote “Out of the Smoke”, an account of his attempt to get back to Australia in an open boat, but he was eventually captured and ended up on the Burma railway.
John, however, was picked up by a Japanese destroyer and ended up in a POW camp in Japan. In 2002 he wrote to me in admiration of the captain of the Japanese destroyer that picked him up, who spent two hours, stopped, picking up survivors. He invited John to a tea party (onboard) when he regretted he couldn’t stay any longer, but “the presence of your aircraft forced me to move away”.
A C F David (Taunton, Somerset, UK)