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Five dollar coin commemorating the Battle of the Sunda Strait, featuring USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH

Date: 2002
Dimensions:
Overall: 45 × 45 × 9 mm
Medium: Aluminium bronze
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from the Royal Australian Mint
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Coin
Object No: 00034269
Place Manufactured:Australia

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    Description
    Five dollar coin commemorating the battle of the Sunda Strait, 1942, featuring USS HOUSTON and HMAS PERTH housed in a presentation box stored in a commemorative cardboard box. The box is decorated in the upper left corner with text reading 'Battle of / Sunda / Strait / 1942'. At the upper right corner of the coin is a partial depiction of HMAS PERTH, at the lower left corner is a partial depiction of USS HOUSTON. At the lower right corner is text that reads '5 / Dollars'. On the reverse side is a profile depiction of Queen Elizabeth and with text around the outside 'Elizabeth II / Australia 2002'.

    The coin is in a clear plastic container. This is contained in a grey case with silver text on the top reading 'Battle of / Sundra Strait / 1942'. White fabric on the inside top of the case with a silver print of the Australian coat of arms and text reading
    'Royal Australian Mint'. Case and coin housed in a cardboard box with USS HOUSTON on one side and HMAS PERTH on the other. A certificate of authenticity is also contained in the box. Its number is '06578', and it provides a short history of the battle and nominal specifications for the coin.
    SignificanceThe loss of HMAS PERTH was devatating for Australia in 1942. Of the more than 600 crew on board, more than half were killed at sea while another 106 died in Japanese captivity. Only 214 returned home at the end of the war.
    HistorySenator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, said "These beautiful coins are a fitting commemoration of this epic battle and serve to honour those brave crew members of both the PERTH and the HOUSTON, some of whom are still with us today, who fought valiantly against overwhelming odds".

    The coins are part of the bi-annual $5 face value series commemorating Australian history, culture and ideas. There are two coins, one, an aluminium bronze proof finish coin depicts the forward sections of the Perth and the Houston, and retails for AUD$35.00. It is housed in a jewellery style presentation case with an attractive outer box and includes an Authenticity Certificate signed by the Controller of the Mint.

    The other coin has an uncirculated finish and features an image of the It has an aluminium bronze centre surrounded by a stainless steel ring and comes in a credit card sized plastic holder inside a pictorial sleeve. Both coins were designed by well-known Mint Designer Vladimir Gottwald.

    This battle occurred sixty years ago. The two Allied warships, cruisers HMAS PERTH and USS HOUSTON, after escaping from the Battle of the Java Sea, were seeking safe passage through Sunda Strait, when they encountered an enemy invasion fleet of some 80 odd vessels. HMAS PERTH and USS HOUSTON, though surrounded, fought valiantly until out of ammunition and severely damaged, were sunk within 20 minutes of one another in the early hours of I March 1942.

    In the battle there were heavy losses from PERTH with 350 naval personnel, including Captain 'Hec' Waller and three civilians, out of the ship's original complement of 681 crew, losing their lives. Four died ashore and another 106 died in captivity leaving only 214 personnel to be repatriated to Australia after enduring more than three years of privation and suffering as prisoners of war.

    Similarly the HOUSTON suffered severe loss of life in the part she played in this one sided battle. Of her crew, numbering 1065 on board at the commencement of the battle, just 368 survived the tragic sinking to become prisoners of war with only 288 surviving the horrors of the infamous Burma Railway.

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