Hector Macdonald Laws Waller DSO & Bar (4 April 1900 – 1 March 1942), known as Hec Waller, was a senior officer in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). His career spanned almost thirty years, including service in both world wars. At the helm of the flotilla leader HMAS Stuart in the Mediterranean from 1939 to 1941, he won recognition as a skilful ship's captain and flotilla commander. He then transferred to the South West Pacific as captain of the light cruiser HMAS Perth, and went down with his ship during the Battle of Sunda Strait in early 1942.
Born in Benalla, Victoria, Waller entered the Royal Australian Naval College aged thirteen. After graduating, he served with the Royal Navy in the closing stages of World War I. Between the wars, he specialised in communications and was posted as signals officer to several British and Australian warships. He gained his first seagoing command in 1937, as captain of the destroyer HMS Brazen. In September 1939, he took command of HMAS Stuart and four other obsolete destroyers that together became known as the "Scrap Iron Flotilla". In 1940, these were augmented by other ships to form the 10th Destroyer Flotilla, supporting Allied troops in North Africa.
Waller was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, and twice mentioned in despatches, for his achievements in the Mediterranean. He assumed command of HMAS Perth in October 1941, taking part in the Battle of the Java Sea shortly before his final action in Sunda Strait. He received a third mention in despatches posthumously, and in 2011 came under formal consideration for the award of the Victoria Cross for his performance as Perth's captain. The submarine HMAS Waller is named in his honour.
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