HMS Exeter’s final battle

1st March 1942: HMS Exeter’s final battle – the Second Battle of the Java Sea

The ship just came to a stop in all departments. The main engines stopped through lack of steam. The dynamos stopped. The turrets were motionless on different bearings. The steering failed. The inside became full of smoke as escaping oil fuel in the forward boiler room burst into flames. There was nothing we could do except sink her.

HMS Exeter fighting off an aircraft attack in January 1942 during the Battle of the Banka Straits.

On the 27th a combined ABDA – American British Dutch Australian – task force of ships had sustained heavy damage whilst attacking the Japanese invasion fleet heading for Java, now known as the First Battle of the Java Sea. The fleet retired to the port of Tanjung Priok, in the Dutch East Indies (now part of Jakarta, Indonesia). Separate groups of ships left on the 28th February – the USS Houston and HMAS Perth (sister ship to [permalink id=14780 text=”HMAS Sydney”]) ran into the Japanese fleet again and were sunk in the early hours of 1st March in the Battle of the Sunda Strait.

The cruiser HMS Exeter, [permalink id=2370 text=”famed in Britain”] for her role in the Battle of the [permalink id=2364 text=”River Plate in 1939″], had sustained serious damage. On 28th she buried her 14 dead at sea and departed with the destroyers HMS Encounter and USS Pope. Between Java and Borneo they encountered eight Japanese warships – four heavy cruisers and four destroyers and the Second Battle of the Java Sea followed.

Lieutenant-Commander George Cooper was on board HMS Exeter:

For some unaccountable reason it was considered at headquarters that our best means of escape lay through the Sunda Strait to the westward, whereas the chances of doing this successfully were very remote in such enclosed waters. It would have seemed wiser to get away to the eastward towards Australia, as a chase in this direction would have drawn the enemy away from his fuelling bases, which he could not easily afford.

The following morning, Sunday, March lst, 1942, at 7.30, we sighted the topmasts of two Japanese heavy cruisers and turned south until they were out of sight, when we resumed our westward course. At 9.30, we sighted them again to starboard with a large destroyer, and shortly afterwards two smaller cruisers with five destroyers appeared on the port side. We turned to the eastward with our escorting destroyers, the British Encounter and the American Pope, to put the enemy astern.

For two hours we had a running fight with them. They straddled us many times but never hit us until at 11.30 one shell penetrated the boiler room. It was a shot in a million as it cut our one remaining main steam pipe.

The ship just came to a stop in all departments. The main engines stopped through lack of steam. The dynamos stopped. The turrets were motionless on different bearings. The steering failed. The inside became full of smoke as escaping oil fuel in the forward boiler room burst into flames. There was nothing we could do except sink her.

So the magazine valves were opened. The condenser inlets were allowed to flood the engine room, and watertight doors usually kept closed were opened. A pretty good inferno was going on down below as the fire spread. She started to list slightly to port, pouring black smoke out of her funnels. I thought she looked defiant, like a stag at bay. Men were cutting down carley floats and flotanets, casting timber adrift, turning out boats.

The Japanese were starting to hit us now as the range closed in. The after superstructure caught fire and the whine of projectiles sounded like the Ride of the Valkyries. She was getting lower in the water and heeling more. The inside had been completely evacuated; no one could live down there. At the bottom of the ladder leading to the upper deck were a lot of people, all quite cahn. She was very nearly stopped, and men were leaving in dribs and drabs. As they went they drifted away astern. Then I climbed over the side and
jumped into the water.

A little later, a destroyer closing on the starboard beam fired a torpedo. It was a good shot as it hit her right amidships. The old dear shuddered a bit. She seemed to shake herself from bow to stern. She must have had very little positive buoyancy left as she went right over to starboard until her fumiels and masts were horizontal. Then, heaving herself up in a final act of defiance, she disappeared in a swirl of water, smoke and steam.

I had never seen a ship sink in day time before. I had seen twelve ships sunk in a convoy in the Atlantic one wild night in October 1940. One of these I saw break in half and the two halves rear up in the air and disappear in twenty seconds. But darkness had spared me the most terrible sight for any sailor – a ship’s final lurch below the waves when the ocean floods inside and gets her down forever.

So I shall never forgot the sight of Exeter going. It did not seem real. We had lived in that ship for a year. We had our cabins and messdecks there, all our private belongings and treasures, mementos of home, books, photographs.I remember throwing my large Barr and Stroud binoculars on the deck before I went over the side. What a waste, I thought, yet a bagatelle compared to the loss of a fine 8-inch cruiser with a score that included the Graf Spee off the River Plate.

Anyhow, we all gave her three cheers as she went. You could hear the faint cheers rippling over the water.

George T. Cooper was to survive the war but his experiences at the hands of the Japanese are reflected in the title of his memoir: George T. Cooper: Never Forget, Nor Forgive. He was awarded the OBE for services to other PoWs and later became a Captain in the Royal Navy.

A captured Japanese aerial photograph of HMS Exeter sinking in the Second Battle of the Java Sea.

Britain at War has the full despatch on the action made by the commander of HMS Exeter, Captain O.L.Gordon in 1945, written when he was being repatriated on board USS Gosper after release from PoW camp.

HMS Encounter was sunk shortly after HMS Exeter and about an hour later USS Pope was sunk when attacked by dive bombers.

By dusk of 1st March 1942 the survivors from all three ships, spread out miles apart, were clinging to wreckage in the waters of the Java Sea

In 2016 came the sad news that HMS Exeter and other ships which constituted War Graves had been illegally salvaged. The Guardian has the full report.

The U.S. Navy Clemson-class destroyer USS Pope (DD-225) in January 1924, sunk by Japanese dive bombers on the 1st March 1942.

75 thoughts on “HMS Exeter’s final battle”

  1. It’s absolutely incredible to see so many family members remembering & honouring their loved ones.

    Each year Families come together & hold a remembrance service, held in the City of Exeter’s Cathedral, Exeter, Devon, UK

    Held on the 1st Saturday closest to the 1st March when the ship met her demise.

    All are most very welcome to attend. There is an informal luncheon on completion where conversation & stories are shared.

    If you’d like details to attend in 2020 please get in touch.


    Regretfully we’ve seen a few survivors pass in the last couple of years and currently know of one existing survivor based in Canada a young 102, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to join us in 2020.

  2. wow, i have just read these posts and i am so happy to know more. my grandfather was on the exeter when it sank and died in a pow just before the war ended, his name was harold gillbanks. i have his medals. very proud. thankyou.

  3. My grandfather, PO cook Leslie spurrel Smith, imprisoned in Macassar. Sadly died of dysentry.

  4. My Grandfather, Henry Robert Wood, was a stoker on HMS Encounter. Like others say above, he was in the water for some considerable time before being picked up. Always think the fact the USS Pope and HMS Encounter stayed with Exeter and didn’t use their speed and shallow draught to try to escape says something about commitment to your fellow man and comradeship. He died in Fukuoka camp B aged 43. Got some heartbreaking postcards from him in the POW camp to his family and from my Dad to him, in his diddy box, The sacrifice of the ABDA force and the small references it gets in history make me ponder. Life long ambition is to visit his grave in Japan. No one from the family has ever been able to go thereto pay respects which he, and all those who were involved American, British, Dutch, Australian most definitely deserve. Always wonder if he laid eyes on the white ensign from HMS Exeter in Exeter Cathedral.

  5. My dad Gaythorne Bartholomew was aged 16 on joining the navy. At 18 he was aboard the exeter when it was sunk. He spent the rest of the war in japanese captivity, being in nagasaki when the bomb dropped. For the rest of his life he was affected mentally and physically and though he said almost nothing about his experience he did did say that the men fighting in or prisoners in japan were the forgotten ones. And they still are forgotten and ignored. I feel very strongly about this especially with the 75th anniversary next year. As its just been announced that there is to be a bank holiday to comemmorate VE day i would very much like to see the men who fought and died or captured in the far east comemmorated in the same way, finally. To this end can i ask that you please sign the online petition requesting this. If you do wish to to just look for VJ Day petition. We need to finally acknowledge that the end of the war was NOT ve day.

  6. My Dad was AB Victor George Williams and served on HMS Exeter until she sunk on 1st March 1942. He was imprisoned in both Macassar and Nagasaki.
    Unfortunately,he did not survive Fukoaka no26..My Mum Louise received a communication that he had been hit by a ship’s crane and died from a fractured skull on 30th June 1943.
    His remains were recovered by Captain Smith of US Army and re-interred in the Yokohama War Cemetery. When I showed my elderly Mum the pictures of his grave I will never forget her comment; “are they still looking after him” …she never got over his death and passed away in 2011 at 97 years.
    I am Vic Williams jnr and I find it very difficult to talk about this. I have a few Japanese
    records and also a spread sheet of the non survivors of the POW Camp which gives the reason for death.If you would like a copy or a chat please email

  7. Lloyd Seaward of Bishop’s Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, aged 101 years, is the last surviving member of the crew of the HMS Exeter. He resides in a seniors home in Grand Falls Windsor, NL. He is very alert and speaks frequently of his experience aboard the HMS Exeter.

  8. My late Dad, Ernie Mason, survived as a POW after the Exeter went down, was liberated by the Aussies and taken to a hospital in Perth to recuperate. He passed away in 1999 and has been my inspiration when life gets tough. There is a book called ‘ No Surrender’ by W.E Johns & R.A .Kelly, the story of William E. Johns, D.S.M Chief Ordnance Artificer and how he survived the eventual sinking of H.M.S. Exeter in the Java sea in March 1942. First published in 1969 by George G Harrap. The book gives great insight to the sinking of Exeter and life as a POW.

  9. Kimberley,
    I have tried to email you several times no luck
    Your Grandfather Gordon Meredith Evans was my Grandfather David John evans brother we have photos of Gordon in uniform
    I love to send them to you
    My work email is
    Mark Biddle

  10. I have only just seen this website. My dad Alf King was on the Exeter and went to both macasssr and Nagasaki. If you Google Alf King scroll down a little and you’ll see his site part of FEPOW. Someone helped me do this and it shows all of my dads naval records. Sadly he died back in 1985 but he’s never forgotten. Knew lots of his friends too from his naval days, McKinley from Fowey, Knocker White from st blazer gate. He knew a man called Leo rice too but sadly he didn’t come home, he’s buried out there in makasssr, died in 1944 of anthrax. His wife, Betty white as she remarried, is still alive aged 100. She visited Leo’s grave after the war.

    Many memories.

  11. May father Albert Roy Stephen was on the Exeter at the River Plate, fortunately he was not on the ship when it sank. He survived the war and passed away at home aged 93 in 2015.

  12. Hi.
    During the course of my life I have made friends with 2 people who have connections to the Exeter. One of my mothers great friends had a brother who served aboard, in the RN and came back to live in Bognor Regis his town of origin . I do not know his branch but his name is Bacon. His brother captured in the Army in Hong Kong did not return.
    Later I cared for an RAF Regiment soldier with PTSD, who had defied his ex Marine father and not joined the RM. My friends surname is Maule and his father I believe is Scottish, and was part of the RM detachment.
    I know nothing of these men’s part in the battle or their subsequent captivity, but I wonder if these names have come up in others research.

  13. My father Geoffrey Holt Stott was a boy sailor on Exeter he joined the ship after she was refitted after Battle the River plate, He survived the Battle of the Java Sea his job was to feed to the cordite charges to the gun turret, 3Yrs as a Japanese Prisoner of War and the Yanks dropping the Atomic Bomb on Nagasaki. On the 1st of November this year he passed away at the age of 94 two months short of his 95th Birthday

  14. Mark Hernandez ::: my hrandad Harry Clare was on Exeter when it sank I know he used to meet a guy called Steve emmett for many years after in Warrington

  15. My Uncle served On HMS Exeter When She Was Sunk In The Java Sea But
    Was Captured By The Japanese & Died a Prisoner Of War Like Many Others Of Our
    Brave Boys His Name Was AB Seaman Mark Hudson From Yorkshire His Parents Were
    Edith Hudson & Walter Hudson Could Anyone Give Me Any Information About His Death Many Thanks Mr K Hudson

  16. I am a latecomer to this site.
    My Father was Andrew (Andy) Beveridge who was a Royal Marine Bandsman (drummer) on HMS Exeter when she went down in the Battle of the Java Sea. He was interred in Macassar in the Celebes for 3 and a half years, freed and taken to Perth in Australia to recuperate and then shipped back to the UK by a RN ship calling in at Durban in S.Africa.
    He used to speak about Tom King (Nosmo) who like my Father has passed away. I have photos of some of the men in Australia, paper cuttings, his medals and even his RMB towel with his number on it. He did speak about the horrors of the camp and the brutality but emphasised that the Japs could be on the receiving end of that too if they did not cow tow to their seniors…a feudalistic regime. The only book he ever managed to read there was “The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist” which had a profound effect on his political persuasion for the rest of his life. I think it’s so sad that the wreck has been salvaged especially as it was a war grave to the men who died in the explosion and also remembering that it was a ship which had played a vital role in campaigns against the enemy before it reached the Far East.

  17. I would like to know if anyone has photos of the crew, as my uncle George Nall was a survivor who ended up being pow in changhi

  18. My Father, Hugh Nicholl from Belfast was a Boy 1st Class and only aged 17 when taken prisoner after the sinking of HMS Exeter and had been a member of the crew for approx. 1 year. The more I read about what he and his shipmates went through just amazes me of the fortitude and spirit to survive ( and those who unfortunately didn’t.) and go on to lead relatively normal lives.

    My Dad went on to serve until 1954 having also served in Korea and if that wasn’t enough he joined the Ulster Defence Regiment during some of the most dangerous days in the ” Troubles”.

    We all should be very proud of these heroes and try to keep the memory of their suffering and more so their steadfastness alive because they so much deserve it. I would be interested in seeing any photos from that time to see if he might possibly be in them.

  19. my father was petty officer ERA John King on hms exeter

    he told me a lot about the build up to the battle and in maccasar and his time at Fukuoka

    I have just found this site and like us all i am sure that we all feel the emotions of all those that suffered and endured at the hands of a brutal enemy

    thank god we prevailed and have our freedom and our country

  20. My father – Gaythorne Bartholomew was an able seaman aboard HMS Exeter and was only 18 when she was sunk in Second battle of Java Sea. He was held in Macassar Camp until October 1942 then taken to Nagasaki on Asama Maru. Spent 2 years in Fukuoka 2 working in shipyards then in Fukuoka 1 working on constructing airstrip among other things – until liberated.

    I do have some information re his imprisonment (like many others he spoke little about it) but if anyone recognises his name or has information I would dearly love to share and exchange information.

    I visited Japan last year and with the help of POW Research Network Japan – I attended a memorial service for PoW in Fukuoka 2 and visited the sites of other camps and the CWGC at Yokohama wnere I took many photographs including the headstones of Exeter seaman who did not survive. I also took photos of the shipyard where PoW worked and the sites of Fukuoka 1 and 2 and many more. I was asked to speak at the service and was also interviewed for a Japanese TV program. I also have a few photographs of Exeter crew my dad appeared to be friendly with but no names to go with them.

    I am happy to share all photographs and other information I have so please contact me if you would like to share or exchange information. I have posted some information on the COFEPOW, HMS Exeter and Nagasaki Fukuoka 2 Facebook pages. If anyone would like to see them please let me know and I am happy to re-post. I have really enjoyed reading these messages from relatives of my father’s shipmates. So thank you everyone for sharing your stories. Regards Barbara M

  21. My father was Harold Water (wally or Taff) on the Exeter. I’m not sure if he was at that time Chief Petty office or if that came later. I would love to get any further information of his service on that ship. I don’t know if he was serving on her at the time of sinking but he was on her at the Battle of the River Plate.

  22. Hi
    Just reading through all the emails,the letters are very moving and tell their stories of our brave men on board the Exeter and the many families who like me are looking for information about their fathers and granfathers who were onboard during the final hours of the sinking and taken prisoner.
    My father Stanley Hand was onboard the Exeter in 1942 when the ship sank and was taken prisoner He was only 21 years old, my father did make it home after years in prison.
    If anyone has any information about Stanley Hand I would be honoured to hear from you.

  23. Hello everyone. My stepfather 1st class stoker Steve Emmett was a survivor from The HMS Exeter who went on to a Japenese prisoner of war camp. It is so lovely to read the comments of
    so many of you who have a deep connection to the men who served on the Exeter in WW11.
    Steve used to attend the March reunions which Tom mentions above – his last one in 1982, before
    Sadly passing on from ill health aged 65 in July the following year. At present I am writing a piece which I hope to develop into animated feature which tells the story of his final years, and the effect both mentally and physically, his experiences in the camp had on his health iduring this period, Please feel free to contact me as it would be very helpful to know how those brave men found life on their return home.

    All the very best for 2018.

  24. Interesting reading glad I found this website my uncle Martin H Sparks was also on the HMS Exeter and at the battle of the river Plate.
    Passed away at the age of 88.

  25. My late father in law Ken Cayzer was a marine bandsman aboard the HMS Exeter and was captured by the Japanese when it went down during the battle of the Java seas. He was picked up from the water by the Japanese and spent four and a half years in Macassar pow camp. He is mentioned in the book No Surrender as he gave concerts in the camp, playing a violin and bow made by other pow’s. He wouldn’t talk about his experiences but I did manage to get him to tell a few snippets of the horrors he experienced in that camp at the hands of the Japanese. I’d love to be in touch with anyone who was on the Exeter with him because he has 4 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren who need to know everything about their incredibly brave and amazing grandfather and great grandfather.

  26. Further to my recent comment re the number of survivors from the sinking of HMS Exeter: Relevant Wikipedia entries for ‘USS Pope’ & ‘Japanese destroyer Inazuma’:

    The following paragraph are extracts from the Wikipedia entries for ‘USS Pope’ & ‘Japanese destroyer Inazuma’. They offer some credence to the idea that some HMS Exeter crew were indeed picked up on 2nd March 1942 after several hours in the water:

    ‘Shortly before noon 1 March 1942 the two British ships (HMS Exeter & HMS Encounter) were destroyed by gunfire, and an hour later, Pope was attacked and sunk by 12 dive-bombers – after sustaining many bomb hits’.

    ‘On 1 March, Japanese destroyer Inazuma was involved in the Second Battle of the Java Sea, where she assisted in the sinking of the U.S. destroyer USS Pope and the British destroyer HMS Encounter and cruiser HMS Exeter (from which she rescued 376 survivors from Exeter and 151 from Pope)’.

    ‘The following day (2nd March 1942), the Japanese destroyers Ikazuchi and Inazuma rescued 442 survivors from Pope, Encounter, and Exeter. The survivors had been adrift for about 20 hours – in rafts and lifejackets, or clinging to floats, many coated in oil, and some blinded. This humanitarian decision by Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudō placed Ikazuchi at risk of attack, and it interfered with her fighting ability, due to the sheer load of rescued sailors. The action was later the subject of a book and a 2007 TV programme’.

  27. Conflicting figures re survivors from the sinking of HMS Exeter:

    The Wikipedia Entry for HMS Exeter (68) states that: ‘The Japanese rescued 652 of HMS Exeter’s crew, including her captain, who became prisoners of war’ while quoting as a source for these figures: Gill, G. Hermon (1957). “Chapter 16: Defeat in ABDA” (PDF). Australia in the War of 1939–1945: Series Two Navy: Volume I: The Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1942. Canberra, Australia: Australian War Memorial. pp. 623–624. OCLC 848228.

    However these figures for HMS Exeter survivors don’t tally with the reported figures in the Macassar POW camp roll call on 18th March 1942 as reported by the British Macassar POW camp commanding officer Lieutenant Commander G.T. Cooper in his report ( ) which states that: ‘The British numbered 945. The British including those drafted to Japan were composed as follows:-

    H.M.S. “EXETER”. 47 665 712
    H.M.S. “ENCOUNTER” 8 159 167
    H.M.S. “STRONGHOLD” 1 47 48
    H.M.S. “ANKING”. – 2 2
    R.F.A. “FRANCOL” 5 3 8
    D.S. “DE RUYTER” 1 – 1
    D.S. “JAVA” 1 1 2
    2/40TH A.I.F. (Ex Timor) – 5 5

    TOTALS 63 882 945

    + one Australian Air Force Officer joined the British Group a few weeks later’.

    So Lieutenant Commander G.T. Cooper’s report implies that there were 712 survivors in total from HMS Exeter picked up by the Japanese and taken to Macassar. Perhaps Gill’s figure quoted in Wilkipedia of 652 of HMS Exeter’s crew rescued by Japanese just refers to the majority of the HMS Exeter crew who were picked up by two Japanese destroyers on 1st March 1942 after only an hour or so in the water, and so excludes the 60 more HMS Exeter crew who were picked up the next day on 2nd March 1942 after 18+ hours in the sea along with the 167 surviving crew from HMS Encounter by Japanese Navy destroyer Ikazuchi commanded by Lieutenant Commander Shunsaku Kudō ?

  28. Hi everyone, i have been looking for years for a website like this and now i have found you. My great uncle George Kaye was a marine on H.M.S Exeter. All i know is that and he was a Japanese prisoner of war. I know Uncle George was a broken and disfigured man and died in the eary sixties when i was about 8 yrs old. My father said that Uncle George would never taik about it. That is why i do not know any more details. I am trying to find out if he was onboard when Exeter was sunk or was it a different sinario.
    Also, will the ceremy take plce this year in Exeter as i would like to go to it.
    Thankyou to all. Clive from Plymouth.

  29. My uncle Ronald Gosset was an Able Seaman on Hms Exeter, I know he survived the sinking and was taken prisoner by the Japanese, I don’t know were he was sent but he died in March 1945 and there is a memorial plaque for him at Ambon War Cemetery in Indonesia, he was 25yrs old. I never met him,i was just a baby in 1944 and he never came home.
    My Nan never forgave the Japanese until the day she died. They have never apologised for the inhumane way they treated prisoners let alone any thought of compensation. I would be glad to receive any comments you may have and if you have any information about Ronnie I would like to hear it. Regards to everyone who reads this, Bryan.

  30. I would like to know if any one saw the name Arthur Kelly in the names of the prisoners he came home but never made it out of the hospital. I saw him but iwill never for get how he looked, he was my step brother which idid not know till i was old, yours John Kelly Doyle.

  31. I am trying to find any one who new my step brother ab athur Kelly he made it home but died in the hospital

  32. My Grandfather Chief Petty Stoker Clifford Muldoon was killed on Feb. 27th 1942. He was one of the first 14 men killed that day. He was the oldest one on the ship at 37 yr. old that was killed. My mom and grandmother didn’t know until after the war ended that he died in 1942.

  33. My father’s cousin, Joseph Phythian, was a leading stoker on the Exeter in March 1942 when it was sunk in the Java Seas. He was taken to Makassar POW camp with other Exeter crewmen and died, aged 27, on 6th June 1945 only two months before VJ day, having survived 3 years of brutality. I don’t know the actual cause of his death or if such information is available. Whilst Joseph was suffering at the hands of the Japanese, my father (his cousin) was participating in the Normandy landings and the ensuing battle for Normandy.

  34. My grandpa Westhuizen,John Willianvan der,AB,RN,68825SA,HMS Exeter,1271 was on the Exeter when it sank and went to the Japanese concentration camp.

  35. I understand from other sources that my great uncle (John William Darnell) was on board HMS Exeter at the time of its sinking, but as yet have no real confirmation. He was definitely held in POW Fukoaka 26. If anyone can confirm he was from HMS Exeter I would be grateful for information.

  36. Message for Jeff Hazell,
    I have a copy of the crew list for HMS Exeter at the time of her sinking. I have had it for a few years now (got it when I was researching my family tree). I have tried searching the internet again, but it no longer seems to be available. If you are still wanting a copy, I am more than happy to photocopy mine and send it to you. My email address is By coincidence, on another site I came across a Rob Terry who is also trying to trace a copy, looking for the same guy, Frank Hazell.

  37. John Scott Rickcord (Mid-Shipman) who died on board HMS Exeter,is one of many RN relatives and my Gt Grandfathers cousin, his Uncle being (Father of John S.R)- Percival S . Rickcord, Cptn M.24 (Dreadnought)

  38. My granddad, Robert Laxton, was the chief stoker on HMS Exeter, and was killed when she went down in 1942. He never got to meet my dad who was a baby at the time. Lovely to read about other people’s relatives who would have known him.

  39. There is now a formal ‘HMS Exeter Association’ that has been set up for all Exeter’s, their dependents and for those with an interest in the ship or it’s history.

    The association is FREE for all to join and is an amalgamation of all previously separately run groups such as the Macassar & River Plate. If you would like to join the association, please email:

    There is also a Facebook Group page for all to join:

    The HMS Exeter Association are once again holding a service to remember all our fallen comrades on: Saturday 4th March 2017. This will be the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of HMS Exeter 68 also the 35th Anniversary of the Falklands HMS Exeter D89. If you would be interested in attending, please contact the committee via the above email.

    We look forward to welcoming you.

    Kind regards

    Jessica Davis
    HMS Exeter Association Secretary.

  40. !st time I’ve seen this website:

    Since 1948 the survivors have held a Reunion on the weekend closest to 1st March. I took over running the event in 2007. It is attended by survivors when possible, but an increasing number of descendants.

    Recently the Reunion has re-located to the Corbyn Head Hotel at Torquay, the weekend usually involves a small service to lay a wreath at the “Exeter” window in Exeter Cathedral, which was paid for by the relatives of the “Exeter” crew members, thinking they had all died during the sinking.

  41. Hi
    Are any of you attending or aware of the Macassar wreath laying service in Exeter Cathedral on 27th Feb 2016?

    I served during the Falklands Conflict on HMS Exeter D89, the Type 42 Destroyer. Our crew have joined up to have a Standard made with all of the Battle honours of both HMS Exeter’s. The Standard is being dedicated on the same day and there is a large ceremonial parade and service in Exeter Cathedral to mark the occasion.

    The date is the weekend closest to the 1st March in respect to those involved in that fateful day and as a token of remembrance to those who suffered in the Macassar POW Camp.

    If you would like more details about the weekend, please contact me at

  42. “Hi Kimberley, I am David John Evan’s Grandson I have a photo of Gordon in uniform.”

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for getting in touch!
    Wow how did you find the photo of Gordon?
    Would you be able to share the photo?
    I would like to hear more of your grandfather’s story too.
    My email address is:
    sonnynkim06 [AT] gmail [DOT] com

  43. My grandfather, Gordon Evans, was a marine on the Exeter when it was sunk. He was taken as a POW to Macassar and then on to somewhere else. He survived and returned to Wales but sadly passed away before I was born.

    My father has been searching for wartime photos of him for a long time but hasn’t had any luck. We are both very interested in understanding more about my grandfathers life during the war.

    Hi Kimberley, I am David John Evan’s Grandson I have a photo of Gordon in uniform.

  44. My Grandad Leading Seaman Thomas Prior was a POW – and unfortunately died at Celebes his grave is in the Ambon War Cemetery ….my mum never met her father

  45. My grandad was on the Exeter when it went down ( Frank Hazell), Ive been trying to locate a crew list but have been told that one does not exist. He sadly died approx 1980 when i was 12 and he spoke very little of what happened to him although he had many scars on his thumbs and a big scar on his head where im told the Japanese tortured and operated on him. Can anyone shed any light on how i may obtain a crew list so i can obtain his records. His son (my father is 74 now and becoming very old and didnt see his father ,Frank, until he was 5) nothing would please him more than getting some good information on the crew. I have read the book by Captain Gordon and believe my Grandad was in the same POW camps finishing up in Nagasaki.

  46. My grandfather, Gordon Evans, was a marine on the Exeter when it was sunk. He was taken as a POW to Macassar and then on to somewhere else. He survived and returned to Wales but sadly passed away before I was born.

    My father has been searching for wartime photos of him for a long time but hasn’t had any luck. We are both very interested in understanding more about my grandfathers life during the war. If anyone could recommend any books or have any information regarding him, that would be great.

  47. Hi Everyone

    To Add My father Wilfred Eric Dean was an Able Seaman, on board the HMS Exeter, and was a POW in Macassar, and Maros.

  48. It is so good to see that the men of the Exeter are not forgotten. My great uncle Stoker P.O. Walter Edward Trueman died when the Exeter was sunk on 1st March 1942.

  49. To Win Clark and anyone else looking for more info on the crew of the ships and their experiences as POW’s.

    I have amassed quite a lot of info, memoirs of several nationalities of live in the various camps Exeters men were distributed to, as well as documents from the national archives i’d be happy to share with you.

    Kim Harrison, your uncles memoirs would be fascinating to see if you see this thread again.

    email me at deeko [AT] hotmail [DOT] com


  50. My uncle William Thomas Phillips was the Yeoman of Signals with HMS Exeter. He was transported from the Celebes to Fukuoka No.2, where he worked at the Kawanami dockyard. He was killed there in 1943 and I have letters from him and a naval doctor, who wrote to my gran to offer some comfort. However, his comforting words painted a very different story to the horrific treatment they received from their Japanese captors.There are a number of books out there, e.g. No Surrender, but I recently found a very rare copy of a book called Bamboo Rice and Seaweed by Owen F. Mahoney.

  51. In 1983 my Wife bought an old trunk at an auction sale, somewhere near Ulpha in Cumbria. It contained some old books, and amongst them was some well written notes by a sailor who was on board HMS EXETER on the 1st March 1942. He wrote in great detail about the sinking, his life in the prison camps, also the Atomic bombing of Nagasaki, the last entry being Sept. 14th. 1945.
    Unfortunately, the papers were not signed, but if anyone recognises any connections in the region, we would be pleased to give them further information.
    A & T Murcott.

  52. My Uncle Jim was aboard the Exeter when she was sunk. He survived, was a POW in Nagasaki ( down in the mines) when we bombed that city. I too would like to know more.
    He did not talk a lot about.

  53. My great uncle JOHN WILKINSON AKA “GEORDIE” the stoker was on HMS EXETER when it went down,in a POW camp in Macassar in the then celebes.Busy reading a book called NO SURRENDER! written by chief ordinance Artificer Johns.It mentions my great uncle page 153 into the book and a marine Mickey Dodds,on how they salvaged food whenever they could, and tried to smuggle it back into camp having been advised never to do that. Would love more information on how they got home etc where he was repatriated as has passed on now & lost contact with his offspring.

  54. My uncle G Bartholomew was captured by Japanese following sinking of HM Exeter 1st March 1942. He was at Nagasaki working on the docks and he did mention Mitsubishi. Does anyone have any further information? I know he didn’t mention his experiences in great detail and I would like to know more. The family do know that a Japanese father and son, with great risk to themselves, did give him some help e.g. some of their food.

  55. Not been on here for a year or so.
    Kim if you do have memoirs would love to see them. Respond to this message and we can get in touch.

  56. Hello, who ever is out there my father was on the HMS Exeter,and never returned I was two and half when my father died,but to me he is my hero,I was the youngest of seven so it was hard for us,anyone alive that new my DAD, he was a stoker first class any phtos of the crew i would love to see as I have no photo of my father.

  57. My Dad was a Marine on HMS Exeter, I am researching everything I can. I have his Service Record and Medals, Letters from the King on his and his commrades release, it broke my heart to read of such cruelty endured by him and so, so many others and still does every time I uncover something new.
    As a survivor he was a truly remarkable person, without a bitter bone in his body, at least not one that he would let the outside world see. I am so proud to be his daughter.


  59. Salve sono andrea morosi mio nonno materno si chiamava Hugo Calleja era maltese era imbarcato come capo cambusiere e capo pezzo è stato nel campo di prigionia è morto nel 1986 a 82 anni sono orgoglioso di aver un nonno della Royal Navy
    Hi andrea defaulters are my maternal grandfather’s name was Hugo Calleja was Maltese had boarded as chief steward and head piece was in the prison camp he died in 1986 at 82 years is proud to have a grandfather of the Royal Navy

  60. My father was able seaman Stanley Bell from Belfast Northern Ireland he served on the Exeter and became a pow aged 19.

    I am trying to find out more about him as he didn’t tell much about his time he died in dec 1994 I have researched that he was a pow in celebs as he wrote on the backs of photos of his pals and some of the places I have found out a lot thanks to the Internet aand Google maps to find places,I am traveling to singapore where he talked of raffles and to lay a poppy at the war memorial in his memory and then to freemantle where he spent time in hospital and to lay a poppy at the war memorial there as well ,I would be delighted to receive any information on the Exeter and the reunion which is held each year dates and places , thanks for any information I might receive , e.gray

  61. I’m very sorry to hear of Bill Francis’ death this week. My father, PO Lawrence (‘Bennie’) Goodman, was on the Exeter, and was in the camp at Macassar, but did not survive. It was Bill’s article on the sinking of the Exeter that introduced me to COFEPOW and I attended a couple of the reunions.May he rest in peace.

  62. My uncle, William Francis, was also on the HMS Exeter and became a POW. sadly he passed away this week on 1 October aged 91. He was a tremendous character and met up with his fellow POW comrades for many years. Earlier this year was invited to the Queen’s garden party with two others ; I believe they were the last three surviving members.

  63. My brother was on the USS Pope. Gunner’s Mate I think. Was one of those POW’s sent to the Celebes prison camp. Liberated by the Australians in Sept. of 1945. My mother found out in April of 1943 that he was alive and a prisoner. He was able to get a message out through Short Wave Radio and folks all over the country relayed it to her. Sometimes the card or letter was just addressed “To the family of William A. Smith” with the name of the town and state.

  64. My Dad was a Royal Marine his name was Walter Dyos, he was a a small camp call Maros in the Celebes near Makkasar would love some info..

  65. Nice to see other folk interested in the expoerience of the crew ofthe Exeter also.

    My grandad was Stoker John Black, he and all the rest of the survivors were transported to Macassar in the then Celebes.
    Senior officers were shipped to Japan soon afterwards, a batch of men went to Japan in october 42, all to fukuoka 2B Nagasaki, with some transferred to coal mines in summer 45. At wars end they returned home via Canada.
    The majority of Exeters men remained in the Celebes for the duration, being repatriated via Australia.

    I’ve a lot on the POW experience if anyone wants more info.

  66. My uncle Able Seaman Alfred Callister was aboard the Exeter and was drowned during the 2nd battle of the Java Sea on 1st March 1942. Knowing the terrible conditions and cruelty of the POW Camp, I can only feel he was possibly one of the lucky ones.

  67. My Grandfather, Raymond George Beaugie was also POW and was on the HMS Exeter. He couldn’t, or wouldn’t, talk about his experiences while captive, so not much is known by the family about where he was held.
    Makes me sad to think what he and many others went through. I do know he was in Perth for 6 months or so for reconditioning prior to being allowed home to his family.

  68. My uncle, Admiral Sir Frank Twiss, was Gunnery Officer on Exeter and must have known Tony Wright’s great uncle very well as he was also in Macassar with him. If Tony would like to get in touch I will send him some of his memoirs.

  69. My great uncle was on board the Exeter.
    He was an anti aircraft gunner.
    After being taken prisoner, he was held in the camp at Macassar and then transported to Japan. Held in POW camp Fukoaka no26.

  70. Very interesting I am trying to trace any information on my grandfather Chief Petty Officer Guns L F H Acott.
    He was on the Exeter when she went down and was in the water for several days He said sharks accounted for several of his colleagues before the Japanese eventually found them and reluctantly took them prisoner.
    He had his leg badly injured by shell splinters and was apparently only saved by a Dutch doctor in the prison camp.
    I am trying to obtain any further information

  71. A lovely informative article. My granddad, Albert T Glover was one of the survivors from HMS Exeter who went on to a Japanese Prisonor of war camp. I’m extremely interested in all information that can help me to track his experiences.

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