October 6 (Sat) 1945, at sea

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Midshipmen ‘shooting the sun’ as part of Navigation lessons, 1942. Image copr. IWM A8645

Midshipmen’s Navigation & Seamanship exams were held during the week. All duly passed and now we only have to convince the board of our intelligence & desirability for the good of the service, and all will be well. This trial is expected to take place about the middle of the week.  Tomorrow we shift into blues & arrive at Sydney. It is to be hoped that the weather will give us a warmer welcome than last time.

A matter concerning our minds considerably at the moment is the question of leave. What with courses due next year & destroyer service in the meantime, it is doubtful whether we New Zealanders will be this close to home again for at least a couple of years & it is to be hoped that the powers-that-be will see their way clear to letting us make a quick trip across the Tasman.

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September 26 (Weds) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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Rear Admiral Brind (left) with Captain McLaughlin of HMS Swiftsure. Image copr. IWM 28081

[HMS] Swiftsure secured alongside starboard and at 1400 Rear Admiral Brind was pulled round the bows of both ships in a whaler manned by officers. Hands were mustered on the Forecastle, and led by the Captain, cheered the Admiral as he passed. On completion, shifted berth astern of [HMS] Swiftsure. The ashes of 22 British Prisoners of War were taken on board [HMNZS] Gambia for passage to Australia.

Early yesterday morning we transferred frozen meat to Destroyers & embarked passengers, including Mr Archer ex-consul-general at Tokyo [possibly not correct], and his wife & family. Soon after 1100 we were under way & by about 1400 out of Sagami Wan. The outer shafts only are being used this trip to enable maintenance work to be done on the other unit. In view of the approaching exams, Midshipmen have been excused watchkeeping & are able to devote their time to Navigation & Seamanship.

This evening we rendezvoused with HMS Wizard and took our mail.

September 10 (Mon) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

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Midshipmen studying in the gun room, 1943. Image copr. IWM A16672

Last Thursday [6th] signal was received to the effect that Midshipmen’s exams would start on the 10th Sept. With only four days notice & coming after two months ops. [operations] this seemed rather sudden to us. Rear Admiral Brind took up our cause and dispatched strongly worded signals to VABPF [Vice Admiral British Pacific Force]. Results were slow & disappointing till this morning just before we were due to start, when we were told that the exams were postponed for one month. This respite is most welcome though it means a few weeks of hard work.

The weather improved during the week, a couple of days of bright sunshine increasing our yearning for a “dip in the briney”. However, swimming is definitely “off” here, and there is no doubt that at times the appearance of the water is enough to deter most people anyway.

July 19 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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Seafire fighters over Japan, 17 July 1945, from HMS Implacable. Image copr. IWM A29964

We are now on our way back to the replenishment area after two days in the strike area. Tuesday commenced with a narrow escape from collision with [HMS] Quadrant. About 0400 the carriers began flying off the first strike. There was cloud about & visibility was poor. Several aircraft came down in the sea during the day & three were lost on operations. According to signals received, targets successfully attacked included airfield (Niigata), shipping & rail transport. During the afternoon [HMS] King George V and two destroyers were dispatched to take part in a night bombardment of Hitachi. On Wednesday, though the weather was getting worse, airstrikes were continued. [HMS] King George V returned early in the morning, apparently no worse for wear. Defence watches were closed up during daylight hours and hands went to “Repel Aircraft” stations several times without anything eventuating.

Memoirs of Lt A Canham

……in time to take part in a series of unbelievably exciting strikes against the Japanese. All sixteen fleet carriers were flying off bombers escorted by fighters. One of our jobs was to pick up bailed out pilots. We also provided a destroyer to serve as a “delousing station.” The Japanese had a nasty habit of hiding kamikazes among returning British and American aircraft. The destroyer would be stationed between the carriers and the Japanese, and all planes would fly over the “delousing station” to be identified before returning to their carriers.

 

June 10 (Sun) 1945, Manus, Admiralty Islands, PNG

Arrived at Manus about 1000 this afternoon and secured alongside oiler [RFA] Dingledale, an RFA [Royal Fleet Auxiliary]. Units of the British Pacific Fleet are in harbour. These include the Fleet Carrier [HMS] Implacable, Escort Carrier [HMS] Arbiter, and part of the 4th Cruiser Squadron [HMS] Swiftsure, [HMCS] Uganda & [HMNZS] Achilles. Rear Admiral Brind flies his flag in the [HMS] Swiftsure. Other units are believed to be at Sydney.

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Engine room of a cruiser, 1942. Image copr. IWM A8903

During our passage from Auckland, Midshipmen have continued with engineroom watch-keeping. The rest of the ship’s company went into AA [Anti-Aircraft] Defence watches yesterday morning at dawn. The senior Midshipmen sat their navigation exams under conditions which can hardly have been conducive to good results.

May 3 (Thurs) 1945, Sydney, Australia

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Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser talking to US Liasion Officers, 1945. Image copr. IWM A30893

Last Saturday, 5 Gunroom officers spent the afternoon & evening with Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser at Palm Beach [NSW]. The weather was glorious & a good time was had by all.

Our Senior midshipman, having made the grade in the S/Lts’ [Sub-Lieutenant] Seamanship & Navigation exams, transferred to the destroyer [HMS] Troubridge, which left early Monday morning in company with [HMS] Termagant & [HMS] Tenacious.

Specially weighed 6″ CPBC [Common Pointed Ballistic Cap] shells were embarked from a lighter on Wednesday Forenoon.

Paint ship & the laying of Semtex has been completed. 4 USN [US Navy] Officers and several communications branch ratings, and an Australian BLO [Bombardment Liasion Officer] have joined. HMNZS Achilles was in harbour for a couple of days.

April 20 (Fri) 1945, Sydney, Australia

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HMS Belfast in Sydney Harbour, March 1945. Image copr. IWM ABS694

Rain. Buckets of it. Pouring down at the rate of an inch per hour. Thus our welcome to Sydney. Bad visibility, though occasionally the deluge lifted for a short while & we were able to catch a glimpse of green hills, some of them dotted, others covered with light coloured red & green bungalows.

Passed the gate at 1045 and an hour later were secured starboard side to No. 7 berth Woolloomooloo Quay, 24 hours notice for steam.

The trip from Fremantle has been without incident & according to plan. Midshipmen have had more gunnery thrown at them and some navigational work has been done. The seniors in particular are beginning to get down to it as the prospect of exams at Sydney looms larger.