An innovation this week has been the holding of Divisions on the forecastle daily at 0900. Officers of Divisions turn up to this, and the Padre and band are also present for prayers & the singing of a hymn.
On Tuesday [11th] afternoon we shifted to berth F29, considerably nearer to Yokohama. The ships of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] present and a large number of USN heavy craft are in this Anchorage.
In connection with the ceremony to be held at the British Embassy in Tokyo on Monday, we sent ashore a party to help clean the place up a bit and a squad of Royal Marines has been training in preparation for taking over guard duties there next week. We also have a platoon of Naval ratings guarding HMS Thracian, a British S class destroyer, which was scuttled at Hong Kong in ’41, raised by the Japanese, and found at Yokosuka in a fairly reasonably & repairable condition when the landing forces went ashore.
Memoir of Lt A Canham
After the fleet entered the harbor, the Newfoundland landing party was sent to Yokosuka Naval Base. We found it mostly deserted, and with no transportation we commandeered fire engines to drive ourselves around the base. We found miles of tunnels under the base and we had to inspect them all to be sure they weren’t mined. There we discovered crates and crates of guns, ammunition, silver plates, and swords.
We refueled again today from British Oilers. Yesterday [17th] all ships of the 3rd Fleet rendezvoused for massed photographs. The total must have been approaching the 200 mark, & no doubt it will give the Japanese something to think about when they all approach Tokyo. On Thursday [16th] at dawn, we were joined by Admiral Fraser in DOY [HMS Duke of York].
The organization and training of the landing parties have proceeded apace. The BPF [British Pacific Fleet] or what there is of it, is providing a reduced brigade. Newfoundland’s share, apart from RMs [Royal Marines], is 2 Platoons & a HQ Sect [Head-quarters Section], with the Gunnery Officer in charge. Four mids [midshipmen] have been detailed to go, & are objects of a certain amount of envy to their fellow officers in the Gunroom.
Japanese peace envoys are a long time in making their appearance at Manila and other places designated by the Supreme Commander [General MacArthur], and fighting is still going on in Burma & Manchuria. This disorganization is probably explained by the changes that have been effected in the Japanese Cabinet. Members of the Royal Family are said to be touring the battle fronts to ensure that the Royal Decree to cease fighting reaches all positions & is carried out.
The United Nations have replied to the Japanese note. They agree to the Emperor remaining on the throne, providing he takes orders from the Supreme Allied Commander, who will be General McArthur. Yesterday [Aug 13] was a strike day, & on several occasions, enemy aircraft attempted to approach the fleet. Our fighter cover was successful in driving them off. During the afternoon, one Seafire crashed on the carrier’s deck & caught fire. The fire was soon brought under control but too late to save the pilot.
Today we spent in the US Replenishment area, refuelling from American tankers. Royal Marine & Seamen landing parties are being organized from the fleet in anticipation of our having to set up signal stations & bases ashore in the near future. Several of our senior officers today paid a visit to the flagship to assist in working out details.
Admiral Sir Bruce Frazer, C-in-C [Commander in Chief] BPF [British Pacific Fleet] was last reported flying his flag in HMS Duke of York at Guam, and is expected to join the fleet in a couple of days time.
Most of the fleet has left for Manus [PNG]. A British token force is remaining behind to take part in the occupation of Japan. This comprises [HMS] KGV, Newfoundland, [HMNZS] Gambia & 10 destroyers, also 1 carrier [HMS] Indefatigable.
The allies have acknowledged receipt of the Japanese surrender note. It is anticipated that we will be carrying out air strikes again tomorrow [Aug 13] as per schedule.
After 3 hours, ceased fire, reformed & withdrew to eastward. About an hour later an enemy aircraft was sighted high above the fleet. As it dived we opened fire, followed rapidly by the other ships. There followed some quick work with the helm, & the aircraft dodged around a bit before making off. Soon after we opened fire on two more aircraft but these turned out to be friendly Corsairs. Thereafter the return to the British & American fleets was without incident.
[HMNZS] Gambia intercepted a radio message from San Francisco which stated that Russia had declared war on Japan & opened offensives on the Manchukuo border.
Yesterday [Aug 10], our aircraft continued striking against targets in the Tokyo area with a fair amount of success.
Today at first light, sighted the fleet train and refuelling operations commenced on arrival. During the forenoon KGV [HMS King George V] took VA2 [Vice Admiral] & AC1 to confer with CTF [Commander Task Force] 38. CS4 took command of the fleet, & we were loaned the Captain of the fleet & staff for the day. While we were oiling during the afternoon a sloop on the other side of the oiler had her steering gear jam, & in consequence caught her mast in the oiler derek, tearing off the upper mast, damaging the hoses & cutting across the bows of the oiler & our own.
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.
On 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.
Owing to the presence of a typhoon in the proposed strike area, & later the possibilities of interfering with the operations of land based aircraft, the last few days have been devoid of the usual offensive against the enemy mainland. We have on occasion done duty as TBS [Talk Between Ships] link with the neighbouring US Task force, and as such been practically out of sight of all but our fellow links on either side. The usual number of floating mines was sighted and though we opened up at a couple, no positive results were recorded. Today we have refueled again. [HMS] Black Prince & a destroyer are returning to base and it is not anticipated that the rest of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] will remain up here for many more strikes. Tomorrow we store ship, probably commencing in operations on Wednesday.
Extract from August 11: During the past week, US Army planes have dropped two Atom bombs on naval & military bases in Shikoku [actually Hiroshima 6th August, Nagaski 9th August], and over one square mile of built up area is reported completely devastated in both cases. It is now [August 11] stated that the Japanese Government has offered surrender, providing that the Emperor retains his prerogatives. Perhaps this war will soon be over.
Last Saturday [28th July] morning the fleet recommenced air-strikes against the Japanese mainland. Targets were mostly shipping on the inland sea. US 3rd Fleet aircraft have been concentrating with good results on the remnants of the Japanese battle fleet at Kure. Very few ships have been left undamaged.
On Sunday [29th July] we were out of the strike area refueling destroyers. Yesterday [30th July] we went back in and attacks continued. Much shipping of various sorts and many aircraft were destroyed or damaged and left on fire by bombs and cannon fire. Today we met the fleet train & refueled.
Yesterday we embarked stores, mostly vegetables, and later proceeded to the replenishment area of Task Force 38.1 for refueling from a US tanker. This was completed by 0830 this morning. In less than 3 hours we received over 1000 tons of oil, rejoining the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] about noon.
The last two days’ strikes have been very successful. Much shipping, including an escort carrier [Shimane Maru] and 10,000 merchantmen, were severely damaged. Airfields were also attacked by our bombers. United States aircraft concentrated on the remnants of the Japanese fleet at Kure [Naval District]. 10 of our airplanes were lost, but most of the crews have been saved. Enemy planes approached the fleet yesterday evening. Our fighters drove them off, shooting down two. Previously a Japanese reconnaissance plane had been shot down 23000 ft above the fleet.
A 4″ throw off shoot was carried out this forenoon & we met the fleet train (TU112.2).