Yesterday afternoon (3rd), the lower deck was cleared when the CVE [HMS] “Speaker”, carrying several hundred British & empire PsOW, passed round the fleet before leaving the Bay, bound for Australia. All ships gave them a great send-off. We hope it will not be long before we are following them.
This forenoon, Japanese envoys, including their foreign minister, and representatives of the United Nations, including the Supreme Allied Commander, General of the Armies, Douglas McArthur, met together on board USS Missouri, and signed documents for the complete surrender of Japan & its empire. The ship’s company were able to listen to a broadcast of the ceremony after Divisions & church. The day was generally celebrated by all who were in a position to do so. The ceremonial sunset on board the flag-ship [HMS] Duke of York was very colourful & moving.
For the third time in the last 9 months the order was given to “Splice the Mainbrace”. No doubt this was appreciated by the troops. Personally I would much prefer a pint of good cider. Letters posted today will be specially stamped “VJ-Day, Tokyo Bay”, aboard ship.
The weather is still very dull. Our landing party has apparently hit the shore & all is proceeding according to plan. By request, the HQ staff who were left behind as unnecessary have been sent ashore to join them, and it all would seem to be a huge picnic. It is to be hoped that the rest of the ship’s company will be able to land & have a look-see later on.
Yesterday KGV [HMS King George v] & other British & US warships proceeded to Tokyo Bay, leaving only about a dozen ships in Sagami Wan. However, a force of US cruisers arrived last evening & this morning we all proceeded to Tokyo. The weather had deteriorated & visibility was bad.
We had a spot of trouble with the capstan machinery seizing up, & anchor was weighed by manpower. Hands manned the capstan bars & despite pouring rain made a very good job. This delayed us considerably even so, and [HMNZS] Gambia proceeded independently after all the US ships. We caught it up soon after entering the bay and passed ahead as we began steaming through the lines of ships, dropping anchor in berth 61 next HMAS Shropshire just before 1300. A mist reduced visibility considerably but a good deal of shipping of various sorts could be seen. The shore was indistinct with what looked like dockyard & built up area to the west and low hills on the east side. In several places round the entrance to the bay were wrecks of merchant ships, presumably the results of sorties by our carrier-born aircraft and also a battleship hulk at Yokosuka.
Defense measures here include a pom-pom each side manned during daylight hours and a full cruising watch & lookout closed up at night. Sentries are posted from sunset to ‘hands fall in’.
Yesterday US Air Forces began taking over the airfields ashore. Transport aircraft have been crossing overhead all day. Anti-sabotage boat patrols are being maintained during the hours of darkness & double sentries armed with rifles & lanchesters posted around the ship.
Today [USS] Missouri moved into Tokyo Bay. Other units will proceed as berthing areas are check swept by our minesweepers. Admiral Nimitz has arrived by seaplane, and General McArthur is reported to be at Okinawa. Paint ship is just about completed, the hands having been busy on the hull since Monday. Upperworks are light grey & the other dark.
Defense watches closed up at dawn. The allied ships headed for Japan in the following order – USS Missouri (Admiral Halsey) & destroyers; HMS Duke of York (Admiral Frazer), and destroyers; TF 38.4 comprising Battleships, Cruisers & destroyers; and TF 37 in the rear. Hellcats from TF 38.1 flew overhead. Land was sighted shortly after 0900 & at 1000 hands went to Action Stations. The land was scrub covered islands, of which we passed several. Ships were flying Battle ensigns & ready at the alert for any signs of treachery from the enemy. An American destroyer brought a Japanese pilot & interpreter to the flagship [HMS Duke of York] before we entered the bay. At 1300 we reverted to defense watches, the watch off preparing for entering harbour.
At 1500 we dropped anchor near Eno Shima [island in Sagumi Bay] after 52 days at sea. The country looked very green & hilly, Fujiyama being partially covered in cloud. The local populace did not seem very perturbed at or interested in our arrival. Hands went to bathe during the First Dog [watch] and an hour after dark we relaxed to cruising watches.
The allied plans for occupying Japan have been postponed for 48 hours owing to bad weather. However, the fleet will probably go in tomorrow, only a day late.
Continuing paint ship. For two hours during the forenoon, midshipmen took turns at OOW [Officer of the Watch] for manoeuvering ship. This was most instructive at times. The screen [of destroyers] was acting separately from the main body, & towards the end of the period carried out a torpedo attack run.
In a speech to the ship’s company, the captain said that we would be getting mail & entering Sagami Wan on Sunday.
Upon the return of the Japanese envoys to Tokyo, the enemy radio began announcing when & where the forces of occupation will land. Airborne troops are expected in the Tokyo area next Sunday & the fleet is to enter the bay shortly after. The actual peace treaty will be signed on a US Battleship in Tokyo Bay on August 31st by the Supreme Commander who will arrive by sea. In a speech to the ship’s company the Captain more or less confirmed these arrangements.
Yesterday [22nd] afternoon practically every aircraft in the fleet that could fly was airborne for a massed flight over the assembled ships. It was a grand sight & some excellent photos should have been obtained.
Yesterday evening we received orders that we were to be ready to disembark landing parties at 8 hours notice. During early hours this morning further orders were received and soon after 0500 Landing parties began mustering on the QD [Quarter deck] to receive further equipment in preparation for embarking during the forenoon. At 1030 we stopped engines & a high speed transport lay off our port quarter while landing craft ferried the troops across. Despite the wild motions of the craft when alongside, all personnel & gear passed safely down the scrambling nets and, as far as we know, up into the transport without incident. The departing force did manage to take with them the hammocks of 4 men going on draught, but better that than leaving something behind, I imagine! At the last moment, orders were received to reduce the HQ Staff, and two Mids & several ratings & marines were left on board, much to their chagrin.
On Sunday [19th], apart from divisions & church, hands were employed provisioning ship. Japanese Peace envoys arrived at Manila for conferences with, or rather to receive orders from, General MacArthur’s representatives in the afternoon.
Extract from the memoirs of Lt A Canham:
“…hundreds of ships of the fleet were prepared to enter Tokyo Bay to accept the surrender. But guarding the entrance to the harbor was a small island with a very modern battery of six-inch guns. Newfoundland was ordered to send a landing party ashore to “spike the guns.” Being a young lieutenant I was put in charge of the landing party and we were issued rifles and helmets and a borrowed American landing craft and went ashore at dawn. Expecting the worst, we were pleased to be met by a smiling Japanese officer waving a white flag in one hand and a Japanese-English dictionary in the other. We went through the gun emplacements and magazines, destroying everything that could be used against the fleet. We then hoisted the White Ensign and the Stars and Stripes at the entrance to the harbor. A very proud and happy moment!”