Interview with Alfred Hansen

Australia
Australia


Name & Surname: Alfred Hansen (nickname – Emu)
City of Birth & Country: Perth, Western Australia
Rank aboard H.M.A.S Perth in 1942: Stoker First Class


[This interview with Mr. Alfred Hansen was done via e-mail in April 2000, several days before Alf's going to the hospital and is posted here by his kind permission. It was conducted with a kind help of his daughter Julie Hansen.]


Please, can you tell us when did you join Royal Australian Navy ?

On 5 May 1939.


It is known that HMAS cruiser Perth operated in first years of the war in the Mediterranean sea (Crete, Matapan). Did you took part in these operations (and if so, could you tell us what were the circumstances at for example Crete like (Perth was damaged)) ?

Yes, I was on HMAS Perth in the Mediterranean when it was damaged by a 500lb bomb and lives were lost.


On 7 December 1941 the Pacific war finally started. How was the Imperial Japanese Navy thought of as Naval opponents ? Underestimated or Overestimated ? How did you, men aboard HMAS Perth look like at the circumstances that Japan has entered in war and that you have now a new battalfield to fought in ? Was there any concern among men ?

Underestimated. No concern amongst the men.


How would you describe the Battle of the Java Sea from your viewpoint ?

Disorganised.


What could have been done differently to get at the Japanese transports ?

Do not know.


Could the Japanese naval forces been defeated at this battle with the ABDA naval forces that were committed ?

It is doubtful.


Did the crew have faith in Admiral Karel Doorman's leadership ?

No.


How big a problem were the Japanese aircraft to the movements of the ABDA fleet ?

No problem until the battle began.


How would you describe the atmosphere aboard HMAS Perth in late February 1942 ?

Good spirits.


What was Captain Waller like ?

Very competent and experienced leader.


When HMAS Perth left Batavia, did you think you really had a chance of escaping ?

Yes.


When the USS Houston and HMAS Perth engaged the Japanese at the Battle of the Sunda Strait were you expecting to find the Japanese transports ?

No.


Was there a chance that the USS Houston could have escaped if they had not turned to engage the transports ?

I do not know.


Did you know that in addition to the escorting IJN destroyers that IJN heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma were also engaging your force ?

No.


How were you picked up ? How were you treated by the Japanese Naval Forces ?

Used an abandoned Japanese lifeboat to get ashore. Had no contact with Japanese Naval Forces.


How were you treated in the POW camps ? In which POW camp did you stay ? Were you and your shipmates used as slave labourers and where ?

Yes, - Thai – Burma railway.


Did you ever felt during your captivity that you wont make home ?

No.


When was your POW camp liberated by the Allied troops ?

On 18 August 1945.


When did you finally returned home ?

On 24 October 1945. I was a 21 year old stoker when captured and we were not privvy to classified information or movements.



Veterans of the Dutch East Indies Index . Bibliography . Article List . Geographic Names
Copyright 2000 by Alfred Hansen
Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941-1942

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