Favourite son

Benalla Ensign - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

A poem re­cently pub­lished in the En­sign, by Colin Har­ring­ton, paid trib­ute to the ser­vice of Cap­tain Hec­tor Waller, one of Benalla’s great­est sons.

Waller was born in Benalla in April 1900 and was ed­u­cated at Benalla east and west pri­mary schools be­fore mov­ing to Benalla High School.

At 13 he left school and en­tered the Royal Aus­tralian Navy train­ing school at Jervis Bay.

He grad­u­ated with fly­ing colours as the best cadet of his term. He served with the Bri­tish navy at the end of World War I, and in be­tween the wars was pro­moted through the ranks, be­com­ing a Cap­tain in 1940.

As set out in Mr Car­ring­ton’s poem, after dis­tin­guished ser­vice in the Mediter­ranean, Waller was cap­tain of HMAS Perth when it, ac­com­pa­nied by the US cruiser Hous­ton, sailed into a big Ja­panese fleet and was sunk in the bat­tle of Sunda Strait.

The peo­ple of Benalla will be in­ter­ested to know that the Cos­tume and Kelly Mu­seum houses a fine col­lec­tion of Waller mem­o­ra­bilia in­clud­ing, among other things, his medals and his dress uni­form.

The lat­ter is of par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est as it was pur­chased at great ex­pense specif­i­cally for wear­ing at the coro­na­tion of King Ed­ward VIII.

Un­for­tu­nately the king ab­di­cated be­fore his coro­na­tion and so the uni­form was never worn.

Trib­ute: A memorial ser­vice for Cap­tain Hec­tor ‘‘Hec’’ Waller was held in the Benalla Rose Gar­dens in 2010. Pic­tured are Benalla RSL mem­ber David Cor­nish and Hec­tor’s son John at Capt Waller’s statue.

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