At dawn this morning the fleet began leaving harbour, bound for a rendezvous with the US 3rd Fleet off Japan. Our carrier planes will take part in air strikes against the enemy mainland, and we do not expect to see harbour again for six weeks. The fleet at present totals 25 ships – [HMS] KGV [King George V] (Vice Admiral Rawlings), Formidable, Implacable, Victorious, 6 of the 4th CS and the rest destroyers, including [HMS] Barfleur, one of the new battle class.
4″ and close range shoots were carried out with moderate success. Our course is North East.
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.
Early this morning soon after dawn, we were the target of a throw off shoot by [HMS] Implac’s. 4.5″s. We were stationed to the north of the carrier on her port beam & 4 mins of 12 salvoes were carried out. On completion, we retaliated by firing off 16 six inch two gun broadsides 6° astern of [HMS] Implac, the first half from A turret & the 2nd half by Y turret. During the forenoon, planes from the carrier did some dummy runs on us to give the close range weapon crews some aiming practice. Tonight carried out Encounter exercise with carrier & destroyers [HMS Tumult & Terpischore]. Our star shell on this occasion was better than usual, our accuracy actually causing some concern that we might hit something. At Midday our position was 9° 35.5′ N, 65° 34′ E.
Last Tuesday morning we left the Quay & proceeded to the berth at F buoy. A tug aided us to carry out director tests soon after securing, & in the afternoon we embarked oil fuel. Next day (yesterday) we slipped at 0845 & left harbour for exercises. An RIX [Range & Inclination Exercise] with [HMS] Nubian was carried out & later in the afternoon, a close range shoot. A sleeve was shot down during this exercise. Sea boats were exercised at recovering life buoys during the Dog Watches [1600-2000]. After dark [HMS] Nubian attacked us with Torpedoes. This was not a very good show apparently, though not as bad as Forecastle’s effort with the sea boat.
Today, carried out a 4″ HA [High Angle] shoot at towed sleeve and later a 6″ fall calibre shoot at a BPT [Battle Practice Target]. There is nothing particular to be said about the HA, but the 6″ was a special exercise to investigate line problems. After calibration salvos from Y Turret, A & B let fly with a broadside & thereafter only one gun per turret was fired each time, six rounds per gun being the average expenditure. The shot did not start off too well but improved considerably as it progressed.
During the afternoon we anchored a couple of miles west of Ras-El-Tin & carried out D/F [Direction finder] tests. A trawler full of experts circled round us till about 1600 when we sent a whaler over to fetch them. Later contact with [HMS] Nubian was also made by whaler. [HMS] Nubian is apparently off somewhere, as before parting, we signalled them “Good Luck”.
Entered harbour and secured alongside Mahmoudieh Quay at 1800, bows south.
Slipped this morning and left harbour for exercises after a week alongside the quay. Hordes of dockyard workers have been aboard, including a boiler cleaning party. The twin power worked Oerlikons [anti-aircraft cannon] forward of the pompoms below the signal deck have been shifted to a position above the hangers and replaced with single mountings. Painting ship has been continued and our appearance has been improved considerably. The Frigate [HMS] “Barle” [originally a USS gunboat] has been secured alongside starboard and for the last few days, the destroyer [HMS] Ledbury outside it. Wednesday we were supposed to leave the quay and secure to buoys but weather conditions were not suitable. Today we left an hour late. 4″ & Close range weapon shoots were carried out at a sleeve target. One of the new oerlikons shot the sleeve down.
Last Friday night, Mrs Barker’s Concert Party put on a show for the ship’s company. It was voted excellent by all who attended. Afterwards, the members of the company were entertained in the Wardroom.
On Wednesday evening, the Gunroom staged a successful dance at the Warrant Officers Club.
[Thursday pm] A close range weapon shoot was carried out, and after 40 mins the sleeve [target] was shot down. Later, it was picked up with a grapling iron.
After dark, the 6″ with aid of star shell [for illumination], threw three broadsides of full calibre “bricks” at a BPT [Battle Practice Target]. This seemed a waste of time to me as there was no opportunity to do any spotting, radar or otherwise, and anyway, I would sooner save everything up and have a really big shoot, ie a couple of dozen rounds per gun, sometime.
Just after 2000, secured at 5 shackles, starboard anchor, in 9 1/2 fathoms in position 270° Mex High Lt. 14.3 cables.
Yesterday, Friday the 19th Jan, carried out a 6″ full calibre barrage shoot at sleeve target. “A” Turret and director did very well. “B” Turret did not do so well, though this is thought to be partly due to a mechanical error in the receivers. As for “Y” Turret, well, no doubt, they will produce better results when the Blue Director & Radar have been fitted up correctly.
The close range weapons carried out an anti-MTB shoot or summat at a floating box. It was still floating when they had finished.
Returned to harbour & secured to F buoy with two bridles at 4 hours notice for steam at 1342. Embarked water & stores. RAL [Rear Admiral Alexandria] and the Govenor of Alexandria [Abbel Khalek Hassoune] came on board during the afternoon for 2 1/2 hrs.
Today embarked ammunition, stores, fuel oil and water. Rumour has it that HMS Sirius has returned to Greece with FOLEM [Vice Admiral Tennant].
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.
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.