August 18 (Sat) 1945, at sea, off Japan

August 18 1945 US 3rd shipsWe 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.

August 14 (Tues) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A29484 Seafire crash
Seafire crashes into flight deck of carrier & catches fire, June 1945. Image copr. IWM A29484

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.

August 12 (Sun) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A28001 KGV
HMS King George V following HMS Illustrious, 1945. Image copr. IWM A28001

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.

August 11 (Sat) 1945, at sea, off Kamaishi, Japan [Part 2]

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.

CCimg608
HMS Newfoundland refuelling, off Japan. Image copr. C Canham.

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.

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.

 

 

August 6 (Mon) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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.

IWM MH29437 Hiroshima
Hiroshima after Aug 6, 1945. Image copr. IWM MH29437

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.

July 31 (Tues) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A30151 inland sea
Attack on Shannoshu shipyard, Inland Sea, Japan, by HMS Victorious aircraft, 28 July 1945. Image copr. IWM A30151

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.

 

July 27 (Fri) 1945, at sea, off Japan

July 27 1945 BPFYesterday 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.

 

July 26 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A29959 Jap carrier
Bombed Japanese escort carrier, Shimane Maru, 24th July 1945, Shido Bay, Inland Sea. Image copr. IWM A29959.

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).