August 11 (Sat) 1945, at sea, off Kamaishi, Japan [Part 1]

After storing from “Fort Wrangell” [victualling store issueing ship] we left the British task force & fleet train and approached the US Task Group 38.4, eventually coming alongside USS “South Dakota” for official correspondence. On returning to Task Group 37.1 we transferred the letters to KGV [HMS King George V]. Action stations was exercised in the evening.

Wednesday [8 Aug] was very misty & as the weather over the target area was also most unsuitable, no strikes were flown off.

August 11 1945 KamaishiOn Thursday [9 Aug] we took part in a bombardment of the Japanese mainland [Kamaishi]. In company with [HMNZS] Gambia & 3 destroyers, we left the BPF [British Pacific Fleet], meeting up with a US detachment 3 battleships, 3 cruisers, and 7 destroyers a couple of hours later. The force was designated TG 38.8.1 & was commanded by Rear-Admiral Sprague, USN. At 1045 hands went to Action Stations and shortly after the force assumed battle formation – line ahead in the following order:- “Newfoundland, [HMNZS] Gambia, [USS] South Dakota, [USS] Massachusetts, [USS] Quincy, [USS] Chicago, [USS] St Paul” with destroyers forming an all round screen – and steaming parallel to coast almost. Course was then altered west & later southerly. Shortly before 1300 ships opened independent fire & thereafter the force continued steaming backwards & forwards in a north-south direction, at each turn approaching nearer the coast. The only enemy opposition was some ineffectual flack against the spotting aircraft, which were Kingfishers from the battleships. We were provided with a fighter cover of Hellcats from the US carrier force. Results achieved were at least spectacular. Fires would be seen in the target area from the gaps in the dense smoke from a burning oil tank. This smoke started soon after the commencement of the shoot & billowed up for thousands of feet, making spotting difficult at times.

 

 

May 10 (Thurs) 1945, Wewak, New Guinea/PNG

Today we took our first offensive action against the enemy.

This morning, just before 0800, we met up with His Majesty’s Australian Ships Hobart and Warramunga, off Wewark [Wewak], NG [New Guinea]. Sealed orders were passed to us by line from the two destroyers.

At standeasy, the Captain addressed the ship’s company, saying that we would bombard enemy gun positions and installations this afternoon in preparation for a landing by Australian 6th Division Troops tomorrow morning. We would also be supporting the landing. [Operation Deluge]

AWM 096419 Cape Moem
Area of attack: Cape Moem and coast, Sep 1945.

So we stooged up & down until 1300 when a preliminary run was carried out. It was 1400 before we actually started shooting. Targets were gun positions & suspected gun posns. The spotting aircraft was an RAAF Boomerang which we shared with [HMAS] Hobart. The Destroyers and Sloop [HMAS] Swan also took part, going close inshore and pasting the beaches. There was no opposing fire from the enemy garrison. At 1530 we secured from Action Stations and dropped back into normal routine.

[Additional extracts from the memoirs of Lt A C]

The Newfoundland was practically a brand new cruiser of about 10,000 tons, six-inch guns, a high turn of speed, good antiaircraft defenses, and very well-suited for her job which was to join with the US fleet in the Pacific.  The Pacific Fleet consisted of four carrier task groups each with four carriers, several battleships, a lot of cruisers, and many, many, destroyers.  One of the four carrier groups was British, with four large fleet carriers with steel decks, which would be very useful when the kamikaze attacks began.

Eventually we joined up with the US fleet.  We were a newish ship with a new crew and a new stern, and we needed some gunnery practice.  We were sent to bombard one Japanese island [NG?] as a workup exercise. The US Navy had wiped out all the Japanese aircraft so we didn’t have to worry about air attacks, and were able to fire on the island while staying out of range of shore artillery.

May 9 (Weds) 1945, Manus, Admiralties/Papua New Guinea

IWM A27859 Sunday Divisions
Prayers after Sunday Divisions on a carrier, Feb 1945. Image copr. IWM A27859.

Sunday Routine with prayers on the QD [Quarterdeck], then pipe down, shore leave being granted to a watch & a half. “Hands to Bathe” was piped during the forenoon & also later on. No sharks were encountered and all swimmers were returned safely.

[HMS] Illustrious, [HMS] Whelp & [HMS] Wager left about dawn this morning, & soon after a convoy of transports & supply vessels began to enter. [HMAS] Arunta went out about 1400. We proceeded to sea at dusk, and after exercising action stations, when opportunity was taken to load the 6″ hoists, settled down to 4 watch routine, course westerly, in company with [HMAS] Arunta. [see map May 8]

April 14 (Sat) 1945, Indian Ocean

IWM A2147 B Turret
B Turret on HMS Rodney. Image copr. IMW A2147.

Have maintained a steady speed of about 25 knots in fine weather. It is however, colder & tomorrow we go back into ‘blues’ for our arrival at Fremantle, which should be at about 1030. Yesterday, action stations were held to exercise breakdowns. The ECP seems very exposed after the comparative security of B turret. Position at Midday Friday was 18°28’S, 101° 55’E & Saturday, 26° 00’S, 108° 07’E.

April 11 (Weds) 1945, Indian Ocean

This afternoon exercised “Action Stations” with alternative forms of control, breaking down into Defense watches, which are to be maintained during daylight hours today & tomorrow, when we expect to hit the Cocos Islands, where we will be at our nearest to Jap.[Japanese] held territory this trip.

IWM CM2363 Catalina
Consolidated Catalina Mark I, AH544 ‘AX-H’.  Image copr. IWM CM2363

Just before 1800, an echo from a plane not showing IFF [Identification, Friend or Foe] was obtained on our port quarter at a distance of about 25 miles. The AA[Anti-Aircraft] Armament was brought to the ready & when the plane, which was on a parallel course to ourselves and which had been recognised as a flying boat, probably a Catalina, had closed to 16000 yds a challenge was flashed. There was a certain amount of doubt about the reply but it was established that the wrong answer had been given. By this time the plane was on the port bow & rapidly going away, so no further action could be taken. Noon position, today Wednesday: 7°24’S, 92°16’E.

March 22 (Thurs) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt [Part 2]

IWM A16331 floating crane
Floating crane max. load 100 tons, Algiers, 1943. Image copr. IWM A16331.

Next day, Wednesday, carried out 4 bombardments, all being shore observed with control divided between shore & ship. These were not considered quite as good as Tuesday’s efforts. Night Exercises were carried out with [HMS] Arethusa and [HMS] Orion during passage to Alexandria, Hands being closed up at action stations for the best part of an hour about midnight. Entered harbour & secured to buoys F2 & F2A by 0800, Thursday today. Hands have been employed ammunitioning ship from lighters alongside. As far as 6” is concerned, most work has been done disembarking CPBC [Common Pointed Ballistic Cap] shell & replacing with HEDA [High Explosive Delayed Action]. HMAC [Aircraft Carrier] Colossus entered harbour this afternoon. The floating crane has been alongside working on P2 4” mounting.

January 13 (Sat) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

Last Tuesday morning, we left harbour for working up exercises. On completion of the alloted serials, we anchored in “Mex Roads” for the night. The same procedure was followed every day for the rest of the week except yesterday, when we returned to our berth, (F buoy) early in the afternoon.

iwm-a11900-action-stns-engine-room
Engine room men at Action Stations, wearing anti-flash gear, 1942. Image copr. IWM A11900.

The exercises included 6″ sub & full calibre shoots at moored targets, 4″ & Close-Range shoots at towed [behind aircraft] sleeve targets (one was shot down), TB [torpedo bomb] attacks by Avenger aircraft, during which opportunity was taken to exercise the 6″ Barrage Units, Massed Air attacks by Corsairs, Seafires & Avengers, MTB [Motor Torpedo Boat] attacks (mainly for plotting exercise) and the highlight of the week was, of course, the night encounter with HMS Active [destroyer] Unfortunately, during this last, & for the other spectacular exercises too, for that matter, hands were closed up at Action Stations, and consequently, only a small proportion of the ship’s company was able to view the show. This seems rather a pity & I think that as many people as possible should be able to watch these fun & games so that when it comes to the real thing, they will have some idea of what is going on. Sitting in an enclosed space, not knowing or being able to guess what is happening above is a very poor sport.

On anchoring at night, seaboats were exercised at recovering lifebuoys. This manoeuvre was well executed. Preparations for oiling [transferring oil from one ship to another] destroyer were also made one forenoon. The official verdict on the week’s work up is apparently “Good Progress”.

HMS Sirius & HMCS Uganda [Canadian] have arrived in Alexandria during the week, the latter bringing very welcome Xmas parcel mail from the UK.

 

 

 

December 30 (Sat) 1944, Alexandria, Egypt

dec-30-1944-to-alex-mapLeft Gibraltar during Last Dog [watch] on Boxing Day [26th], bound for Alexandria. “Action Stations” was exercised while leaving the Bay. A speed of 22 kn [knots] was maintained for the first day, apart from a short period when PVs [paravanes] were being streamed. Numerous water spouts were seen during the Forenoon on Wednesday, one very good effort appearing only 5 miles to port. Early in the Afternoon, a depth charge was dropped for exercise. At 2330, clocks were advanced an hour. Now keeping zone (-2). During Thursday, the weather deteriorated & by midnight had reached a force of 10 (Beaufort Scale). The island of Pantelleria, which we gather this ship has visited on previous occasions, was visible to port early in the afternoon. We expected to pass Malta during the First Dog [watch] but with the advent of the gale, visibility decreased and the island was not sighted at all. By the morning of Friday, the gale had abated considerably and the low, almost flat coastline of the Libyan desert our starboard hand. Derna was the only town of note passed and that did not look particularly exciting.

The remainder of the journey to Alexandria passed without anything of particular note happening. We arrived during the morning watch amid a slight haze & a certain amount of rain securing to buoy F.

For this trip, usual defence watches were not maintained, only the pom poms [guns] being closed up. Lookout groups were maintained as usual. Shipping was met with frequently and Navigation lights were burnt during the hours of darkness.

December 23 (Sat) 1944, Gibraltar Harbour

december-23-1944-mapSecured alongside Berth 38, Gibraltar Harbour, about 1030 this morning. The weather during passage from Greenock was generally good. Fog, in patches, was met with on Thursday morning and a certain amount of alarm was caused a short while later by the approach of an unidentified plane. This fortunately turned out to be a Halifax of RAF Coastal Command. Ships met included escort vessel [HMS] “Hydrangea” [corvette] on Thursday afternoon and [HMS] “Berwick” early next morning. “Action stations” was exercised on Friday morning.

dec-23-1944-gib-harbour
Gibraltar Harbour, on the west of the town, with Berth 38 (centre)

On arrival in the Bay, we had to hang round for a while before berthing. Shore activity seemed practically nil as far as tugs were concerned anyway, so the Captain began to take the ship in & alongside. This entailed pointing ship at the southern end of the harbour. When we were finally secured, it was found that the ship would have to be wound [turning a ship end for end at a pier]. This took just over an hour, & on completion, ship’s head was pointing south.

December 13 (Weds) 1944, Scapa Flow, Orkney

iwm-a1585-submarine-exercises
Destroyers on way to exercises, on the left is the submarine which acted as target during the anti-submarine exercises, 1940. Image copr. IWM A1585. Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205135957
iwm-a2274-swordfish
Fairey Swordfish, 1941. Image copr. IWM A2274.

At 0814 weighed anchor and in company with [HMS] “Norfolk” proceeded to exercise area & commenced RIX [Range & Inclination Exercise] at 0945. On completion at 1045, sighted S/M [submarine] “Trusty”. Just after 1100 commenced 4″ HA [High Angle] shoot at towed winged target. At 1130 began exercises with “Trusty”, finishing HA shoot at 1150. About half an hour later the port PV [paravane] was reported to have broken adrift. A photographic plane (Swordfish!) turned up & circled the ship several times, presumably giving the ship the once over. It is hoped that if its efforts are successful, copies of views will be available for distribution to individuals. The exercise with S/M Trusty was completed about 1330 and approximately an hour later, a close range shoot began. After half an hour, the target was shot down. “Action Stations” was exercised and 6″ prepared for sub-calibre firings but this was cancelled and after a few dummy attacks by Torpedo & Dive bombers, set course for Scapa Flow and Fleet anchorage. On recovering PVs it was found that the port paravane was correct & the starboard was missing!! This sort of raises a query as to whether all the ship’s company know their right hands from their left. Anchored at A1 Berth at 1730, securing at 8 shackles in 16 fathoms.

During night, the wind increased to force 8 from SSE and just after midnight, veered port anchor to 10 shackles & dropped stb. [starboard] underfoot.