During our passage from Auckland, Midshipmen have continued with engineroom watch-keeping. The rest of the ship’s company went into AA [Anti-Aircraft] Defence watches yesterday morning at dawn. The senior Midshipmen sat their navigation exams under conditions which can hardly have been conducive to good results.
Last Friday week, with the aid of a couple of tugs the ship was moved to the training wharf opposite HMNZS Philomel. Early Saturday morning it wharfed itself into the Calliope dock.
On Saturday, a party of about 400 officers & ratings were taken to Rotorua by train for the day. This outing was apparently well organized & enjoyed by all.
Last Friday we embarked supplies of 6″ & 4″ ammunition & completed storing ship. On the Wednesday the ship was returned to berth at the cruiser wharf, bows east.
The weather has not been particularly encouraging except for the last couple of days which have been very nice. We were all set to leave last Saturday, but Friday night sailing was postponed & an opportunity was given to many to attend the Races at Ellerslie on Saturday Afternoon.
This morning we slipped from the jetty at 0930, passing the gate at 0940. Close range shoots were carried out in the Hauraki Gulf during the forenoon at a sleeve target towed by an Avenger Aircraft. 3 targets were shot down. Course was set for Manus, cruising turbines being engaged & two boilers only steaming. Passed Cape Brett at dusk and set course to leave New Caledonia almost 50 miles to Starboard.
Cape Brett [NZ] light was sighted before dawn & during the forenoon we steamed down the coast of the “Winterless North”. It didn’t look very appealing even to me, even with the sun shining. Picked up the pilot about 1000 & proceeded thru the channel, entering the gate & berthing alongside the cruiser wharf at 1030 (-111/2). It was found that time kept in Auckland was (-12) so clocks were advanced 1/2 hour immediately. I’ve never known it more than -111/2 before myself.
Apart from a certain amount of inclement weather on about the 3rd day out & a breakdown of the port inner main circulator, which delayed us and rather made things awkward for a couple of days, the trip passed without incident. Midshipmen have carried out engineroom watchkeeping & had several lectures on various aspects of engineering in the Navy. I generally find it interesting but the time spent in the engineroom is not at all pleasant.
The ordinary cruising watch organisation was broken down & a special one brought into force, where only the two forward pompoms were manned. Normal cruising watches carried out 6″, 4″ & Close Range shoots at smoke bursts Tuesday forenoon.
Arrived off Seeadler harbour yesterday morning. 4″ & Close Range shoots at a sleeve target were carried out, the CR [close range] succeeding in shooting it down. The 4″ was not so good. We entered harbour & secured alongside an oiler just before lunch, casting off & anchoring at tea time, not far from the main base & officers club.
Today, after cancelling several signals for stores & equipment, we weighed at midday and set course for Auckland, NZ. Although, this is good news, about the best I’ve heard since I joined the service, I feel that I would rather have stayed up in the war for another 6 months or so before going home. I think the ship’s company are feeling somewhat “choked” about it. They think it is about time we did something useful too. Still, the folks back there would be pleased to see me, anyway. It is unfortunate that we are going there at this time of year as I doubt that the weather will be at all pleasant.
[Additional extract from the memoirs of Lt A C]
At one point we were required to go into dry dock for repairs, but the kamikazes had been so active and so many ships hit, that every dry dock in our area was full. The Navy told us they were sorry, but we’d have to go to New Zealand for repairs.