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

IWM 28081 Brind & Swiftsure
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.

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September 23 (Sun) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

During the week, Yokohama sightseeing parties were landed daily and today a party was sent  by destroyer to Tokyo. The day has been wet and means of transport round the city negligible, so there can be little doubt that Tokyo is not considered a first class liberty city!

IWM A30539 Swiftsure
HMS Swiftsure had led at the liberation of Hong Kong. Image copr. IWM A30539

HMS Swiftsure, our relief, arrived this forenoon. Tomorrow the flag will be transferred, they will take over our guards ashore, and we hope to leave on Tuesday. [HMS] King George V left for the south on Wednesday and [HMNZS] Gambia has returned from Wakayama. Heavy units of the United States 3rd Fleet have sailed for the west coast of the US, but a large force of US ships is still in the bay. Our USN Liason team has left the ship.

September 15 (Sat) 1945, Yokohama, Japan [Part 2]

Sight seeing parties from the ships are allowed to visit Yokohama now. Our quota is 75 men at a time, divided into parties of less than 20 with an officer, armed with revolver, in charge of each party. None of the men are allowed to be armed in any way whatsoever.

IWM A30578 Tokyo
Bomb damage in Tokyo, with the wreckage of buses in a Tokyo street. Copyright: © IWM A 30578. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161683

Most of Yokohama has been razed to the ground. Apart from a few concrete buildings near the centre of the town, there is very little except acres & acres of rubble & scrap iron. The damage would seem to have been caused by firebombs as the roads (concrete) were all in good condition and tram services still running. The civil populace, all of whom looked adequately fed, lives in tin shacks amidst the rubble. Their hospitals were apparently intact and working. Apart from a few busses, running on producer gas, and bicycles, the only traffic on the roads was US Army vehicles. The Yanks are everywhere, & digging themselves well in. The most popular medium of exchange ashore is cigarettes, with American brands more sought after than British.

The repatriation of Prisoners of war is proceeding apace. Most of Honshu has been cleared and destroyers are making trips to outlying camps & depots. Nearly every evening we have turned out to cheer a ship load of repatriates going past. HMNZS Gambia has gone to Wakayama to pick up a batch of men. All on board here wish we could have the chance to do something useful & assist in the good work.

 

August 31 (Fri) 1945, Tokyo Bay, Japan

Yesterday KGV [HMS King George v] & other British & US warships proceeded to Tokyo Bay, leaving only about a dozen ships in Sagami Wan. However, a force of US cruisers arrived last evening & this morning we all proceeded to Tokyo. The weather had deteriorated & visibility was bad.

august-31-1945-tokyo-bay-map.jpgWe had a spot of trouble with the capstan machinery seizing up, & anchor was weighed by manpower. Hands manned the capstan bars & despite pouring rain made a very good job. This delayed us considerably even so, and [HMNZS] Gambia proceeded independently after all the US ships. We caught it up soon after entering the bay and passed ahead as we began steaming through the lines of ships, dropping anchor in berth 61 next HMAS Shropshire just before 1300. A mist reduced visibility considerably but a good deal of shipping of various sorts could be seen. The shore was indistinct with what looked like dockyard & built up area to the west and low hills on the east side. In several places round the entrance to the bay were wrecks of merchant ships, presumably the results of sorties by our carrier-born aircraft and also a battleship hulk at Yokosuka.

Defense measures here include a pom-pom each side manned during daylight hours and a full cruising watch & lookout closed up at night. Sentries are posted from sunset to ‘hands fall in’.

August 23 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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.

IWM A 30576 air parade DOY
Naval aircraft flight over HMS Duke of York, August 1945. Image copr. IWM A30576.

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.

This afternoon we were detached with [HMS] KGV[King George V], [HMNZS] Gambia, [HMAS] Napier, [HMAS] Nizam & two US Fletcher class DDs [USS] Benham & Uhlmann from TF 38.4 and became TF 37.

August 12 (Sun) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A28001 KGV
HMS King George V following HMS Illustrious, 1945. Image copr. IWM A28001

Most of the fleet has left for Manus [PNG]. A British token force is remaining behind to take part in the occupation of Japan. This comprises [HMS] KGV, Newfoundland, [HMNZS] Gambia & 10 destroyers, also 1 carrier [HMS] Indefatigable.

The allies have acknowledged receipt of the Japanese surrender note. It is anticipated that we will be carrying out air strikes again tomorrow [Aug 13] as per schedule.

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.

CCimg608
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.

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 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 the  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.

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.

IWM A17950 bosun's chair
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).