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.