Ray a petty chief officer, was at the helm of HMAS Perth when she was sunk in the Sunda Straits in 1942.

With only 20 shells for each six-inch gun remaining before the disastrous Battle of the Java Sea the day before, HMAS Perth went down firing practice bricks and star shells at the last.  That was all she had left.

A gifted artist, writer and Taoist philosopher, Ray saw Weary as something like Mt Everest,

“the further you are away from him, the greater he seems”.

He noted in his diary “I am sure that it is his (Weary’s) presence which holds this body of men from moral decay in bitter circumstances which they can only meet with emotion”.

After the war he edited his diary of those times into three books. They are classics of their kind.

  • Out of the Smoke; 
  • Into the Smother; 
  • The Sword and the Blossom, 2003,

published by Melbourne University PublishingISBN 0-522-85067-7. (See also Publisher’s web page.)


Parkin was born in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, Victoria.  As a boy he was always interested in ships and was in the sea scouts. He was always keen on drawing (especially drawing ships), and after leaving school at age 14 he joined an engraving firm. In 1928 aged 18 he joined the Royal Australian Navy, where he rose through the ranks to become a chief petty officer.  In 1939  he was drafted onto the light cruiser HMAS Perth. In February 1942, HMAS Perth survived the Allied defeat at the Battle of the Java Sea, before being torpedoed and sunk at the Battle of Sunda Strait.   Ray was one of the 681 men on board;  353 were killed, and of the  328 survivors,  only four were not captured as POWs.  Of those captured, 106 died in captivity and the surviving 218 were repatriated after the war.


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