August 1923 and was living in
when he enlisted and was posted to H.M.A.S. Armidale.
On 11th June
1942 the ship was ordered to resupply and evacuate troops and
civilians from Betano
Bay , Timor .
Spotted by Japanese
reconnaissance aircraft as they left
Darwin , Armidale survived repeated air
attacks but reached Betano too late to rendezvous with her
sister ship Karu which had already made for open water. HMAS
Armidale found Kuru 110 kilometres off Timor and the
refugees were transferred to Castlemaine, which then
returned to Darwin
. Kuru and Armidale were ordered to continue the
operation in daylight. Both came under further attack and
Armidale was sunk.
The survivors, having
been strafed by the attacking aircraft, constructed a makeshift
raft to which they lashed a half-submerged and badly-damaged
whaler. The wounded were put aboard a small motor boat that had
survived the sinking. When it became clear they would not be
rescued, the captain and 21 other men (two of whom died) made
for Australian waters in the motor boat, rowing much of the way
because the engine was damaged. Two days later, another 29
survivors began the same precarious journey in the whaler, by
now salvaged but in need of constant baling.
The remaining survivors
clung to the raft and awaited rescue. After harrowing journeys
the men in the motor boat and whaler were picked up, but the men
left on the raft disappeared without trace.
RAAF planes sighted the
raft on December 7 and 8, dropping food each time, but were
unable to land because of rough water. When they returned on
December 9, there was no trace of it.
Edward Stanfield Piesse
was one of the men lost on the raft