July 5 (Thurs) 1945, Manus, PNG

Entered harbour after an AA [anti-aircraft] shoot yesterday forenoon. All ships were flying the “Stars & Stripes” in honour of the US Independence Day. On arrival, commenced to embark stores & fuel. This continued all today ammunition & water being taken on board in addition. Two of our senior midshipmen left the ship on transfer to sloops. There were also several changes amongst the wardroom officers. Two RNR [Royal Naval Reserve] midshipmen joined us. It looks as if we will soon be leaving harbour for quite a long period, rumour says, over 6 weeks.

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4 ships of the British Pacific Fleet, HMS Euryalus closest. Image copr. IWM A30305

Last Sunday at sea, no exercises were carried out. [HMS] Euryalus developed boiler trouble and returned straight to Manus, at 27 knots!

Monday, the fleet carried out main armament throw off shoots at each other. Our victim was [HMCS] Uganda. All went well. A Damage Control exercise took up the afternoon and a night encounter the evening. We did not put up such a good show in this latter, but [HMS] Black Prince’s starshell were very good indeed. On Tuesday we carried out a throw off shoot at a Seafire simulating kamikaze attacks, with indifferent results. This no doubt will be improved on. We hope so anyway.

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June 30 (Sat) 1945, Coral Sea

At 0530 this morning we went into defense (AA [Anti-aircraft]) watches, and at first light [HMS] Implac. began flying off strikes. We turned out to a “repel Aircraft” alarm just after 0600, but no attack developed and it is assumed that the cause was reconnaissance machines. About 0800 another alarm was given & this turned out to be the real thing. After 20 mins or so the attackers withdrew, and we & [HMCS] Uganda continued to our R/V [rendezvous] with [HMNZS] Gambia and Admiral Brind. We carried out an RCX [radar calibration exercise] on the way, meeting them, in company with [HMS] Black Prince & [HMS] Euryalus, before noon.

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Transfer of staff between ships by Bosun’s chair, 1943. Image copr. IWM A17950.

After lunch, the Admiral and his staff transferred to us by Bosun’s chair. By dusk tonight, ships in company were [HMS] King George V (BS1) [battleship], [HMS] Formidable (AC1) [aircraft carrier], [HMS] Implacable, [HMS] Victorious, 4 Cruisers and nine Destroyers (RAD in [HMS] Barfleur, one of the new Battle-class).

June 25 (Mon) 1945, At sea

IWM A7861 oiling floating
1942 trials of floating hose for oiling. Ready to pick up floats. Image copr. IWM A7861

Last Friday [22 June], in company with other cruisers and [HMS] Implac, we carried out exercises at sea. These included oiling by trough and buoyant hose methods. The first, being a previously practised evolution, was accomplished without a hitch. Following the normal procedure in the Pacific, two hoses were passed instead of the one that we have been used to, but the execution was no more difficult. The buoyant hose method was however a different story. Two hoses complete with wires and buoys were streamed astern of the oiler and it was only with considerable difficulty that they were seized by grapnel & they were hauled inboard. Once there, the hoses were quickly connected up, and the rest was plain sailing. As this had taken a great deal longer than anticipated, a 6″ bombardment, which had been scheduled for the early afternoon, and was to have been mostly for the benefit of the spotting aircraft, anyway, was cancelled. We then made an attempt at an HA [High Angle] shoot, but after the aircraft had streamed several drogues it returned to base without having given us a single run. So ended our day. We returned to our old berth, anchoring too late for any swimming.

This morning, early, we again left harbour for exercises. A bombardment of Towi Island [Manus, PNG], a small atoll about 250 x 100 yds, was the first. Three shoots were carried out, 12 rounds being about the average expenditure per 6″ gun, and although the practice was mainly for the amusement of the spotting aircraft, the results obtained were very good. A 4″ HA shoot was next, and two sleeves were shot down. “Out PVs [paravanes]” was exercised just before tea.

Towards dusk, we met up with [HMS] Implacable, [HMCS] Uganda, Teazer, & Terpischore, and the Captain announced that we were going south to meet the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] on its way up from Sydney. Exercises would be carried out both before and after the meeting which should take place on Saturday.

June 17 (Sun) 1945, off Truk/Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia [Part 2]

June 17 1945 TrukOn Friday morning [15 June], CS4 [Cruiser Squadron 4] transferred his flag from HMS Implacable to HMCS Uganda. The 4 cruisers and 3 destroyers then proceeded to the Eastern side of Truk and, lying just outside the reef in three groups, commenced to bombard air installations and gun positions. HMS Swiftsure & Teazer opened fire first and the remainder followed in quick succession. The particular targets were airstrips on Eten Island and gun positions on Uman. After putting our fire on to the the airfield the spotting aircraft developed engine trouble so we just had to blaze away without further corrections. The enemy did not return fire. After firing about 200 rounds altogether, we received the order to break off the action, and all the bombading force withdrew to the eastward, meeting up with [HMS] Implacable about noon.

Results of our shoot at the airstrip were described as good, as were the Destroyers’ efforts against the smaller gun positions. The other Cruisers did not apparently achieve all that they might have done, as the spotting aircraft were hindered by flak & for other reasons. Altogether, it seems to me that the operations against Truk have been more use as a practice for our forces than for any material damage that might have been inflicted on the enemy.

During the afternoon, the flag was transferred back to [HMS] Implacable, and further strikes flown off. Intruder patrols were sent out during the evening also. Shortly before midnight, course was set for Manus.

Yesterday morning, Saturday, we joined up with [HMS] Ruler & escort. A certain amount of interest was aroused later on by a depth charge attack by Destroyers on an asdic contact.

Today we entered Seeadler Harbour at 10 mins to 9, and secured in our old berth. Commenced fuelling soon after from [RFA] Rapidol.

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.

January 25 (Thurs) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

On Tuesday morning left harbour for exercises with Italian destroyer Artigliere, HHM [Hellenic Navy] S/M Pipinos, & HMCS Uganda. A close range shoot at a sleeve target was also carried out. The 4″ shoot did not take place as scheduled because the towing aircraft had some difficulty with the sleeve and eventually had to slip it before the show started. During the day, the weather became worse and by nightfall was sufficiently bad to forbid anchoring in Mex Roads or even entering harbour [map]. At 2000 normal sea routine was commenced, and during the night we just stooged about in company with [HMCS] Uganda. The next day carried out 6″ Barrage & Pom Pom firings at sleeve target. Beaufighters also carried out R/P & MG [machine-gun] attacks on a fog buoy towed astern. After 5 mins, the buoy was reported “missing, presumed sunk”. At 1800, secured to F Buoy, 4 hours notice for steam.

jan-25-1945-alex-hrb-smlEarly this morning slipped from F Buoy and proceeded to sea, co. [course] & sp. [speed] various for exercises. Met HMS Aurora and HHMS [Hellenic Navy] Sactouris. Also HMS Sirius. A 4″ HA [High Angle] Shoot at a sleeve target was completed at about 1000 and was followed by a massed air attack. Sometime after the Spitfires and Baltimores had left, a “glide bombingĀ  attack” was made by more Baltimores. The theory of this is beyond me. During the afternoon, there was a 6″ full calibre shoot at BPT [Battle Practice Target] B Turret had a spot of bother with misfires and generally, things were not so good. Returned to harbour and secured alongside port to El Mahmudiya Wharf [on map], 36 berth, bows north. 12 hrs notice for steam.

January 19 (Fri) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

jan-20-tow-forward-smlOn Thursday, began the exercises with 6″ sub calibre & 4″ barrage firing at a sleeve target. Results were not outstanding. Further RIX [Range & Inclination Exercise] and Dive Bomber Attacks helped fill in time till we were ready to be taken in tow by [HMCS] Uganda. Gear, with the exception of the coir [rope] was laid out as in sketch. [HMCS] Uganda was to pass from astern, trailing a grass [rope] with buoy attached and stop with its stern just off our stern. Hands were ready with a grapnel [grappling hook] to catch & haul the grass inboard & secure it to our manila [rope]. However, it did not stop soon enough, & the coston line [shot from a coston gun], which had fallen across its quarterdeck and been attached to the manila via a heaving line our end, parted. The grass passed too far away from our forecastle to be of any use. [HMCS] Uganda stopped with its stern about a cable distant on the port bow & our starboard whaler took a line across. To our end of this was secured a coir & so on as in the diagram. All went well as [HMCS] Uganda hauled in, with men mucking up & down her quarterdeck in fine style, until they started pulling the eye of the wire hawser through the fair lead. The stopping securing it to the manilla had parted & they had a bit of trouble getting it inboard. When they had, our shackle was found to be too small, & operations were held up for a while till they had found another which fitted. When at last everything had been organised and secured, we let go a shackle of cable and were towed at a speed of 5 knots [9km/hr: 6m/hr] for a short while. Then it was time to pack up & commence to stow the gear away. We were able to haul aboard a considerable quantity of wire hawser before [HMCS] Uganda slipped.

Official comment on the exercise was that it “might have been much worse”. [HMCS] Uganda could have dropped the end of our hawser in the drink in trying to shackle it on, I suppose! Our side of the show was not too bad, I thought. The whaler did rather well.

January 18 (Thurs) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

Another week much the same as last, although we are obviously making progress as the exercises are becoming more like the real thing. [HMCS] Uganda has been assisting. This last statement may be technically incorrect as I believe [HMCS] Uganda is senior ship & is probably in charge of the exercises.

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HMS Ceylon deliberately listing for an exercise, 1953. Image copr. IWM HU129765

We were supposed to leave harbour on Tuesday morning but just after Special Sea Duty – men had closed up [assembled], a signal was received from RAL [Rear Admiral Alexandria] cancelling exercises for the day. Instead we carried out some of Thursday’s program & let the Damage Control experts have a “field day”. To give them a clear run hands [sailors] were closed up at Action Stations for most of the forenoon. A list was developed and there were power failures, giving us a good opportunity to exercise working the machinery by hand.

Wednesday morning, we proceeded to sea & carried out a 6″ sub-calibre shoot. Alternative forms of control were tested with success.

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A night scene with 3 star shells, P M Scott. Image copr. IWM Art.IWMARTLD5680

Later, in company with [HMCS] Uganda, we were subjected to dummy Dive bombing attacks by Spitfires. This was for the benefit of the close range armament. Exercises were carried out with HM S/M Unswerving [submarine] for an hour in the early afternoon. On completion, destroyer [HMS] Exmoor was secured on the starboard side by spring & breast and 8 tons of oil were discharged to it. Although there were a couple of slight hitches, this manoeuvre can be considered as having gone off very well indeed. After slipping [HMS] Exmoor, stooged about for a while before commencing RIX [Range and Inclination Exercise] with [HMCS] Uganda. Later did a night encounter exercise with it. Its star shell [for illumination] was quite good but ours was very poor. When finished, both anchored in Mex Roads for night.

January 13 (Sat) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

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.

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Engine room men at Action Stations, wearing anti-flash gear, 1942. Image copr. IWM A11900.

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.