Situated between the islands of Sumatra and Java, the Sunda Strait was the location for a number of naval engagements that took place in late February and early March 1942, as part of the larger Battle of the Java Sea (also known as the Java Sea Campaign). Of these engagements, the Battle of Sunda Strait was fought between the United States, Australia and the Netherlands, and the Imperial Japanese Navy - as the latter prepared to invade Java - and concluded with a Japanese victory.
During the conflict, on 28th February, the American heavy cruiser, USS Houston and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth were sunk as they attempted to sail through the Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap on the south coast of Java. Having been spotted by a Japanese destroyer, both Allied ships engaged the enemy but were outnumbered by Japanese forces which included the Japanese 16th Army's Western Java Invasion Convoy, escorted by the 5th Destroyer Flotilla and the 7th Cruiser Squadron.
In the below photographs, the HMAS Perth is pictured on the left in 1942, with her distinctive disruptive camouflage paint scheme, and on the right the USS Houston can be seen off the coast of San Diego, California in October 1935.
To read more about the conflict and the broader Java Sea campaign, take a look at Jeffrey Cox's Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II, which examines the events and evidence surrounding the campaign, reconstructing battles that in hindsight were all but hopeless and revealing where fatal mistakes and missed opportunities condemned the Allied forces.
The original images can be found here and here.
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