Defense watches closed up at dawn. The allied ships headed for Japan in the following order – USS Missouri (Admiral Halsey) & destroyers; HMS Duke of York (Admiral Frazer), and destroyers; TF 38.4 comprising Battleships, Cruisers & destroyers; and TF 37 in the rear. Hellcats from TF 38.1 flew overhead. Land was sighted shortly after 0900 & at 1000 hands went to Action Stations. The land was scrub covered islands, of which we passed several. Ships were flying Battle ensigns & ready at the alert for any signs of treachery from the enemy. An American destroyer brought a Japanese pilot & interpreter to the flagship [HMS Duke of York] before we entered the bay. At 1300 we reverted to defense watches, the watch off preparing for entering harbour.
At 1500 we dropped anchor near Eno Shima [island in Sagumi Bay] after 52 days at sea. The country looked very green & hilly, Fujiyama being partially covered in cloud. The local populace did not seem very perturbed at or interested in our arrival. Hands went to bathe during the First Dog [watch] and an hour after dark we relaxed to cruising watches.
Upon the return of the Japanese envoys to Tokyo, the enemy radio began announcing when & where the forces of occupation will land. Airborne troops are expected in the Tokyo area next Sunday & the fleet is to enter the bay shortly after. The actual peace treaty will be signed on a US Battleship in Tokyo Bay on August 31st by the Supreme Commander who will arrive by sea. In a speech to the ship’s company the Captain more or less confirmed these arrangements.
Yesterday [22nd] afternoon practically every aircraft in the fleet that could fly was airborne for a massed flight over the assembled ships. It was a grand sight & some excellent photos should have been obtained.
Recommenced air strikes at dawn. Just before 0700, when the second strike was on its way out, a signal was received from C-in-C Pac [Commander in Chief Pacific] to “cancel all strikes”. Our aircraft were recalled but we maintained CAP. At 1120 signal was made by C-in-C “Cease hostilities against Japan”. The Captain said a few words over the broadcaster, & hardly had the cheering died away, when an enemy aircraft dived into the sea in flames, off our port quarter, and a bomb dropped astern of [HMS]Indefatigable. Other raiders were suspected to be above the fleet & hands went to repel aircraft stations. We stayed there for the next three hours while our fighters disposed of several enemy planes. Thus our cession of hostilities. The remainder of the day was uneventful.
At noon (Japanese time) the Emperor spoke to the people of the empire over the radio, announcing the acceptance of the Japanese Government of the Allied demands made at Potsdam. This was the first that the enemy people heard of the peace negotiations, and it will not be surprising if certain elements continue to resist, despite the Imperial order to lay down arms.
Extract from memoirs of Lt A Canham
“When the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and we dropped our guard for the first time in six years…….
As every ship was celebrating and flying its flags and colors and battle ensigns, a flight of kamikazes came out of the sky. Nobody was watching the radar or keeping a lookout. Nobody was doing anything except engaging in exuberant joy! The war was over. They had given up. We had won. Newfoundland was steaming about two hundred yards off the quarter of the carrier [HMS]Implacable when two kamikazes came in completely unopposed. Nobody fired at them, we were all too busy…… Both planes went into the water between the two ships, missing us both.”
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.
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.
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).
This morning soon after dawn, US Fleet units were sighted to the north west. These included battleships of the Iowa class. Later on US Helldivers did their stuff over the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] for recognition purposes. We hope to get a preview of some Bearcats & Seahawks in the not-too-distant future. Tomorrow at dawn we commence operations against the enemy.
During the night, in company with [HMAS] Hobart, [HMAS] Arunta, & [HMAS] Warramunga, steamed due North & later south again so as to be in position to recommence firing at dawn. Landing craft were sighted at 0700 & we began shooting half an hour later. The first two targets were quickly disposed of. During this time, about a battalion of troops were landed. They met with only slight opposition. At 0900, we ceased fire and proceeded just to hang around till required again. Soon after noon, an asdic [Allied Submarine Devices Investigation Committee (WWI); general term for any type of under-water supersonic echo-ranging equipment] contact was made. [HMAS] Arunta dropped depth charges & we took evasive action.
About 1630, at the request of the Military, we carried out another attack on a gun position near the airstrip. This was satisfactorily dealt with in a quarter of an hour.
At standeasy, the Captain addressed the ship’s company, saying that we would bombard enemy gun positions and installations this afternoon in preparation for a landing by Australian 6th Division Troops tomorrow morning. We would also be supporting the landing. [Operation Deluge]
So we stooged up & down until 1300 when a preliminary run was carried out. It was 1400 before we actually started shooting. Targets were gun positions & suspected gun posns. The spotting aircraft was an RAAF Boomerang which we shared with [HMAS] Hobart. The Destroyers and Sloop [HMAS] Swan also took part, going close inshore and pasting the beaches. There was no opposing fire from the enemy garrison. At 1530 we secured from Action Stations and dropped back into normal routine.
[Additional extracts from the memoirs of Lt A C]
The Newfoundland was practically a brand new cruiser of about 10,000 tons, six-inch guns, a high turn of speed, good antiaircraft defenses, and very well-suited for her job which was to join with the US fleet in the Pacific. The Pacific Fleet consisted of four carrier task groups each with four carriers, several battleships, a lot of cruisers, and many, many, destroyers. One of the four carrier groups was British, with four large fleet carriers with steel decks, which would be very useful when the kamikaze attacks began.
Eventually we joined up with the US fleet. We were a newish ship with a new crew and a new stern, and we needed some gunnery practice. We were sent to bombard one Japanese island [NG?] as a workup exercise. The US Navy had wiped out all the Japanese aircraft so we didn’t have to worry about air attacks, and were able to fire on the island while staying out of range of shore artillery.