The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast
The story of A Great World War 2 Battleship and the Crew that Sailed Her!
One of the most valiant ships to sail the seas during World War II finally sank after earlier reports it had been lost at sea. This happened seventy-five years ago!
President Franklin Rosevelt sailed on the ship several times. It was his favorite during his years in office. It became the flagship for Admiral Thomas Hart, Commander of the Asiatic Fleet. It sailed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge when it had its grand opening in 1937.
The USS Houston was in the Battle of Flores Sea in February 1942. Weeks later, it sailed into battle in the Java Sea. Then, in March 1942, it sailed into its final battle in the Sunda Strait.
During the battle, two ships fought side by side in the Strait. The Perth and the Houston. The Japanese began sending torpedo after torpedo at the two ships with as many as 100 fired in the waters. Several struck the Perth. No sooner had Captain Waller of the Perth gave the abandon ship orders, a torpedo struck the side of the ship where he was standing and he lost his life.
Then, next to come was the Houston. It fought on for another hour or so. They were completely surrounded as torpedo after torpedo struck the ship. They took on enemy fire from the Japanese from 50 caliber machine guns. Captain Rocks of the Houston lost his life after giving the order to abandon ship.
The fate of the Houston and Perth was not known until after World War II.
This story needs to be told. Captain Rooks and his crew of the USS Houston, while fighting alone for hours after the Perth sank, found 260+ crewman taken prisoner and held in prisoner of war camps to help build the Bridge over the River Kwai. They remained missing-in-action until the war ended.