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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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

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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 26 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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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).

July 22 (Sun) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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Flight deck party pushing a damaged Firefly on the HMS Indefatigable, after an emergency landing. Image copr. IWM A3034

Units of the fleet are still oiling. On Friday we met the fleet train & were joined by [HMS] Indefatigable and [HMS] Barfleur. Three cruisers were sent to refuel from US tankers in the train of the next Task Group. We oiled by “buoyant hose” from San Adolfo [tanker] in 5 hours, taking in less than 1000 tons. US destroyers have been with the fleet over the last two days, and Admiral Halsey, USN has been aboard [HMS] King George V.

July 15 (Sun) 1945, at sea, off Japan

Today, in a speech to the ship’s company, the captain revealed that, having finished oiling, we would tomorrow meet the US 3rd Fleet comprizing 100 ships, and on Tuesday take part in a combined strike against the Tokyo area.

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HMS Formidable & Euryalus (centre) being oiled from a tanker of the British Pacific fleet train. Image copr. IWM A30072

The fleet train was sighted at dawn on Friday and we took up position & commenced oiling from the “San Amando” [tanker] about 1100. The trough method was used & the operation took 6 hours. During that time [HMNZS] Achilles refuelled by bouyant hose trailed astern of the oiler. Shortly before noon, our two senior mids [midshipmen], complete with baggage, were transferred to a couple of sloops. This “bosun’s chair” transportation must be just about as good as some of the machines at Luna Park, Sydney.

[HMS] Black Prince reported a premature explosion of a VT [Variable Time] fuse in the right gun of its A Turret. Casualties were one died of wounds & several others injured. The turret & remaining gun will apparently be serviceable, although the right is completely out of action.

On Saturday, various ships continued fuelling and today the rest topped up before leaving the fleet train.

Memoir of Lt A Canham

We got all our fuel and supplies from the fleet tankers and supply ships. Watch-keeping at night at 20 knots with no navigation lights and doing a constant zig-zag to avoid submarines kept us on our toes and was very good training for a young officer. There were British supply ships in the fleet train, but we avoided them like the plague. The American ships had much better food and much more of it, but sadly, no rum. We would always go out of our way to get Yankee grub instead of the dried peas sent to us by their Lordships.

July 12 (Thurs) 1945, at sea

july-12-1945-to-japan.jpgAfter a week’s steaming we are now some 1300 miles east of southern Japan. Tomorrow we meet the fleet train & commence a 2 day refuelling period. Opportunity has been taken during passage to carry out several exercises. Most of these have been concerned with the AA [anti-aircraft] armament and in my new job as AADO [Anti-aircraft Duty Officer] I have had to be on the go a lot of the time. The job is however interesting and I feel that I am at least earning my keep.

HMS Barfleur had to return to Manus as trouble developed with her main armament on the third day out.

Last Saturday we oiled 3 destroyers, giving them about 90 tons each. This went off quite well. On theĀ  basis of time taken and fuel passed, [HMNZS] Gambia was judged the most efficient at oiling.

Several floating mines have been sighted. I am rather surprised that no action has been taken to sink them.