June 17 (Sun) 1945, off Truk/Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia [Part 1]

Last Tuesday [June 12], proceeded to sea in company with [HMS] Implacable, Ruler, the 4th Cruiser Squadron [HMS Swiftsure, HMS Argonaut, HMS Black Prince, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Gambia], and 24th Destroyer Flotilla, comprizing [HMS] Tenacious, Termagant, Troubridge, Teazer and Terpischore, our objective being the Jap[anese] held island of Truk, once an enemy base in the SW Pacific. It was by-passed in the advance to the Philippine Islands but has been under almost daily aerial bombardment by the US Air forces ever since.

IWM A29463 Truk
Firefly aircraft of the British Pacific Fleet had just loosed their Rocket Projectiles to score direct hits on Moen Radio Station, Truk. Image copr. IWM A29463

The operation and our force were designated respectively Inmate and TG 111, Rear Admiral Brind flying his flag in [HMS] Swiftsure. Air exercises were carried out during the two days (T-2 & T-1) spent in reaching the strike area. We arrived there, about 70 miles to the SW of Truk, early on Thurday morning [June 14]. At first light, Implacable flew off a strike of about 20 aircraft – Seafires, Avengers, & Fireflies. Soon after this was completed, we were turned out to a Repel Aircraft Alarm. The Bogey was however identified as an Air/Sea Rescue Catalina patrolling the area. Two hours later, another strike was flown off, and the first landed on. This routine was continued throughout the hours of daylight, a total of 6 waves being sent off. Casualties were one Seafire, lost on operations, and 2 Avengers which fell into the sea on taking off. The crews of the latter were rescued by Destroyers. Two Fireflies and one Avenger were slightly damaged by enemy “flak”. No air opposition was met by our attacking planes, and Airfields, aircraft, Radar installations & gun positions were bombed & straffed with fair success.

At frequent intervals throughout the day, the A/S R [Air/Sea Rescue] craft was cause for for alarm reports, & our fighters were constantly investigating. The crew of the Catalina must have been impressed, & probably a little worried, by the attention paid them.

During daylight hours, a two watch system was in force, but after dark, this was broken down into 1 in 4. Night intruder patrols were sent off by [HMS]Implacc, the last landing on again soon after midnight. One Avenger drove into the sea over the carrier bows. Searchlights were quickly organized, and survivors were rescued by a Destroyer. When we left harbour HMS Ruler carried on board one only Walrus for rescue work. Unfortunately, this aircraft was blown overboard in a strong wind at night, which left the carrier without any useful purpose in life.

 

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May 8 (Tues) 1945, Manus, Admiralties/Papua New Guinea [Part 2]

New four watch & two watch routines have been brought into force. These concern only the actual armament crews, as lookouts, Radar, plotting, & bridge personnel are still in 3 watches, and allow for HA/LA [High Angle/Low Angle] Defence in two watches, & a four watch cruising organisation in which about 3/4 of the AA [Anti-Aircraft] Armament is manned.

One of our USN Officers is producing a neat little news-sheet which comes to light about breakfast time each day. It is entitled the “Caribou Bull” & certainly helps us to keep track of things now that newspapers are non-existent and news broadcasts difficult to receive.

AWM Manus PNG 302556
Cruiser in floating dock, Manus, 1944

Seeadler Harbour is a large anchorage bounded by the Island of Manus to the south, and odd small islands & coral reefs the rest of the way round, the area being about 30-40 sq miles. The hills are covered in profuse tropical vegetation & even the smallest islands sport a few palm trees. United States installations include a couple of floating docks, which look capable of dealing with light cruisers, a repair yard for Landing craft and a large seaplane base for Catalinas.

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.