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Maritime Logistics Community News : Autumn 2009
48 naVY SuPPLY nEWSLEttER autumn 2009 naval Supply History From 1911 until the mid 1950’s most of the Ships Canteens in the RAN were managed by civilian staff. over the side and then jumped in after him. In the confusion of abandoning ship he lost sight of the raft and never saw his father again who was later listed as Missing in Action. Young Alf Hawkins was soon captured by the Japanese and spent 3 ½ years as a Prisoner of War in Java and later on the infamous Thai – Burma Railway where he ‘celebrated’ his 18th birthday in December 1942. Despite malnutrition, disease, injury and beatings from Japanese guards Alf Hawkins survived the war and returned to Australia in October 1945 – he was 20 years old. BY CmdR G. SWindEn, Ran At the Battle of Sunda Strait in March 1942 the cruiser HMAS PERTH had four civilian Canteen Staff onboard under the management of Alfred Thomas Roy Hawkins. One of the Canteen Assistants was his 17 year old son Alfred Arthur Hawkins. A.T.R. Hawkins joined the RAN in 1921 as an Engine Room Artificer but took his discharge in 1932 to become a Civilian Canteen Manager. He served as the Canteen Manager in HMA Ships ALBATROSS, MORESBY and ADELAIDE before joining the cruiser PERTH in mid 1939. In May 1940 his son, then aged 15 joined his father onboard. PERTH was soon dispatched to the Mediterranean theatre of war and in January 1941 was alongside in Malta when the port was subjected to a heavy air raid. An ammunition ship (MV ESSEX) berthed near to PERTH was hit and set on fire. Canteen Manager Hawkins was one of a group of men from PERTH who boarded the burning vessel and extinguished the fire. For his bravery he was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM). The cruiser spent some seven months in the war zone and took part in the evacuation of Australian troops from Greece and Crete in April/May 1941. She was heavily bombed by German aircraft and, although only hit once, suffered several casualties. The Canteen Staff in PERTH were members of the First Aid Party at Action Stations and dealt with the dead and wounded. After return to Australia and a refit, PERTH was sent to the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia) in February 1942 to help stem the Japanese advance. After fighting in the disastrous Battle of the Java Sea, PERTH and the American cruiser USS HOUSTON were trying to escape to Australia when they encountered a large Japanese invasion force near the Sunda Strait. In a desperate night action both ships were sunk, but so were a number of Japanese troop transports. Canteen Manager Hawkins was badly wounded in the battle and his son dragged him to the ship’s side and placed him in a life raft. He pushed it PHOTO’S AND FAMILY DETAILS PROVIDED BY MR TOY HAWKINS – SON OF ALFRED HAWKINS.