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Australian Ambassador to US Visits the Library

Events, Exhibits, USS Houston & Military History

We had some special visitors in the Library on Thursday, led by the Australian Ambassador to the United States, the Hon Kim Beazley, AC, who was here to tour the USS Houston Exhibition. Located on the second floor of the library, the exhibition features original letters and artifacts from the World War II-era ship and POW camps, an American flag made by prisoners-of-war in Saigon, and vintage photographs of USS Houston crew members. Paintings of the ship are also on display, as well as a newly restored model, ship’s bell, two uniforms, and – of particular interest to the Ambassador – several items related to the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth. As a native of Perth, Ambassador Beazley has long had a keen interest in the story of the ship and her crew.


Pictured, L-R: Capt. Carter B. Conlin, USN (Ret.); the Hon Kim Beazley, AC; and librarian Julie Grob

The Perth joined the Houston as part of an ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) fleet in the Battle of the Java Sea. The two ships’ fates were tied together, as both the Perth and the Houston survived that battle but found trouble the following night when passing through Sunda Strait, where they encountered a large Japanese force. Outnumbered and outgunned, both ships were sunk.

Mr. Beazley and his party toured the exhibit with curator Julie Grob and other University representatives. Attendees included Ambassador Beazley and his wife Susie Annus; Australian Consul General to the USA, Mr. Mauro Kolobaric, and his wife Silvana Kolobaric; Australian Honorary Consul General to Houston, Ms. Nana Booker; Capt. Carter B. Conlin, USN (Ret.) of the Naval Order of the United States; Don Kehn, Jr., Historian for the USS Houston Survivors Association/Next Generations; Dr. Marshall Schott, Associate Vice Chancellor/Associate Vice President for Outreach and Planning, University of Houston; Michelle Buhr, Director of Stewardship, University of Houston; and Julie Grob, Coordinator for Digital Projects and Instruction, Special Collections/Curator of Cruiser Houston Collection.


HMAS Perth

Grob presented Ambassador Beazley with a copy of Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR’s Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of her Survivors by James D. Hornfischer on behalf of the University of Houston Libraries.

Materials for the exhibition were drawn from the Cruiser Houston Collection, which contains over 70 boxes of archival material related to the history of the ship and her crew. The collection forms part of the USS Houston and Military History Archives. For more information about what is contained in the collection, be sure to take a look at the finding aid. The original materials can be viewed in the Special Collections Reading Room.

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