1917 & 1918, France

In this photograph, in one of the rows on the right-hand side, is the gravestone of WJD’s paternal uncle, who shares the same name (WJD). He died in June 1917, age 21. In another CWGC cemetery, south of Arras, France, WJD’s mother’s uncle is buried. He died in April 1918, age 25. Both were a long way from their homes in NZ.

War graves cemetery in northern France near the Belgian border – Image from http://www.cwgc.org – Commonwealth War Graves Commission

October 1944 – December 1945

The journey of HMS Newfoundland as described in the journal and extended until decomissioning in Plymouth, UK, from the records of A/S John Jessop, is shown on a map at this link:     https://drive.google.co/open?id=1Fq0snraL2Ym_XJEMW4pETwlizOySnu8s&usp=sharing

A/S James Levett (1943-1945)

Links to photographs and memories of A/S James Levett’s years on HMS Newfoundland 1943-1945, and his time in the the Royal Navy before and after this are available at:



These links are also on the Personnel page.  Thanks to the follower who informed me.

October 7 (Sun) 1945, Sydney, Australia

After steaming down the coast at slow speed last night, we duly passed thru the [Sydney Harbour] Heads, in bright sunshine, just before 0900. We crept up the harbour & secured to buoy one, a very short distance from Man-o-War Steps.

HM Ships King George V & Suffolk are at Woolloomooloo [wharf] and [HMS] Indefatigable in dry dock.

R W Ravenhill Captain 10.X.45

HMS Newfoundland ship’s company in Sydney Harbour in 1945, Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN commanding (lower centre). Image courtesy of C Canhan.


October 6 (Sat) 1945, at sea

IWM A 8645 Midshipmen
Midshipmen ‘shooting the sun’ as part of Navigation lessons, 1942. Image copr. IWM A8645

Midshipmen’s Navigation & Seamanship exams were held during the week. All duly passed and now we only have to convince the board of our intelligence & desirability for the good of the service, and all will be well. This trial is expected to take place about the middle of the week.  Tomorrow we shift into blues & arrive at Sydney. It is to be hoped that the weather will give us a warmer welcome than last time.

A matter concerning our minds considerably at the moment is the question of leave. What with courses due next year & destroyer service in the meantime, it is doubtful whether we New Zealanders will be this close to home again for at least a couple of years & it is to be hoped that the powers-that-be will see their way clear to letting us make a quick trip across the Tasman.

October 1 (Mon) 1945, at sea

A ship-wide indoor sports competition is being run at present and it is hoped to present prizes on arrival at Sydney. The Gunroom has not distinguished itself particularly.

4″ VT fuze trials have been carried out and close range weapons will probably be tested when we get to sea again. It has been a pleasant change to pass ships burning full lights at night, and islands with lights twinkling ashore. When off Guam, we met HMS Implacable bound for Manila to transfer Prisoners of War.

IWM A30383 swimming
IWM A 30383 Men of HMS BERWICK enjoying a dip in the Pacific, 1945. © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161537

Yesterday evening the ship was stopped while all four shafts were re-engaged, and at 0530 this morning, Manus was sighted. We entered, & after a certain amount of trouble & delay caused by the Stb [starboard] outer shaft refusing to stop, secured alongside oiler [RFA] Eaglesdale. Hands to bathe was piped in the afternoon. This was most welcome, as was the mail received. At 1700 we slipped from the oiler & proceeded to sea, Sydney bound.

September 26 (Weds) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM 28081 Brind & Swiftsure
Rear Admiral Brind (left) with Captain McLaughlin of HMS Swiftsure. Image copr. IWM 28081

[HMS] Swiftsure secured alongside starboard and at 1400 Rear Admiral Brind was pulled round the bows of both ships in a whaler manned by officers. Hands were mustered on the Forecastle, and led by the Captain, cheered the Admiral as he passed. On completion, shifted berth astern of [HMS] Swiftsure. The ashes of 22 British Prisoners of War were taken on board [HMNZS] Gambia for passage to Australia.

Early yesterday morning we transferred frozen meat to Destroyers & embarked passengers, including Mr Archer ex-consul-general at Tokyo [possibly not correct], and his wife & family. Soon after 1100 we were under way & by about 1400 out of Sagami Wan. The outer shafts only are being used this trip to enable maintenance work to be done on the other unit. In view of the approaching exams, Midshipmen have been excused watchkeeping & are able to devote their time to Navigation & Seamanship.

This evening we rendezvoused with HMS Wizard and took our mail.

September 23 (Sun) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

During the week, Yokohama sightseeing parties were landed daily and today a party was sent  by destroyer to Tokyo. The day has been wet and means of transport round the city negligible, so there can be little doubt that Tokyo is not considered a first class liberty city!

IWM A30539 Swiftsure
HMS Swiftsure had led at the liberation of Hong Kong. Image copr. IWM A30539

HMS Swiftsure, our relief, arrived this forenoon. Tomorrow the flag will be transferred, they will take over our guards ashore, and we hope to leave on Tuesday. [HMS] King George V left for the south on Wednesday and [HMNZS] Gambia has returned from Wakayama. Heavy units of the United States 3rd Fleet have sailed for the west coast of the US, but a large force of US ships is still in the bay. Our USN Liason team has left the ship.

September 18 (Tues) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

Yesterday [17th] history was made when the Union Jack was hoisted over the British Embassy at Tokyo after nearly four years of war.

A representative party of officers & men from HMS Newfoundland boarded the destroyer [HMS] Quality early yesterday morning and after picking up further parties from KGV [HMS King George V] and destroyers, proceeded to Tokyo. The day was warm & dull and the trip took little over an hour. On arrival at a dirty looking jetty, apparently miles from anywhere, but lined with US Army trucks, the troops were loaded into said trucks & whisked away. The officers were informed that transport for them would be arriving in half an hour. It was nearer an hour later that the trucks returned and the rather fed up officers were able to get under way for the embassy. The journey took about 20 mins & lay through what was left of the city, past the imperial palace gardens. The scenes of destruction were much the same as at Yokohama, though some of the main streets near the city centre appeared practically undamaged with huge tall buildings standing all around. These could do with a good clean. The grass & tree-lined sidewalks were a good sight and the imperial gardens & environs well worth visiting.

At the Embassy, the troops were found to be lined up round the drives & main entrance. Of course, the officers had not been allowed for, & were all pushed up one end, as far as possible from the scene of operations. Then for some time, as other parties & high ranking officers arrived, orders were given and countermanded, and it appeared as if nobody had any clear idea of what was happening. There is no saying how long this might have gone on for, but time marched on, & the Admiral arrived, so the show went on.

newf 18
Ceremony at British Embassy, Tokyo. Image copr. C Canham

Led by the RM [Royal Marine] Band from KGV [HMS King George V], Guards of Honour from the Royal Navy & Royal Marines marched to the front of the building and “presented arms” to the General salute for the Admiral & then to the Royal salute while the band played “the King” and the Union Jack was hoisted. Rear Admiral Brind led three cheers for His Majesty, the King. War correspondents & photographers did their stuff during this moving ceremony and the “changing of the Guard” which followed, when Royal Marines from [HMS] Newfoundland took over the guarding of the Embassy from KGV’s RMs. This was no doubt an extremely interesting and attractive manoeuvre for those who could see it. Unfortunately the band was placed in front of the officers & so successfully obstructed the view that I am unable to give any details or comments except to say that what was visible was done very smartly indeed.

This concluded the show and we were dismissed to devour the bag lunches provided. Thru some lack of foresight on the part of the organizers, no beer was supplied for the officers though the troops seemed to have plenty. There was no opportunity provided for anyone to visit the city shops, & after lunch time hung heavily. A wait round the embassy, which was very pleasant, a short ride in a truck, and a longer wait at the jetty was the lot of most. A little before 1500 [HMS] Quality left the jetty & followed an Australian destroyer bearing the Admiral & other “brass hats” back to the fleet anchorage at Yokohama.

On Sunday [16th], Rear Admiral Brind walked round Divisions and attended church on the Quarterdeck. He was most pleased at our turn-out.