August 6 (Mon) 1945, at sea, off Japan

Owing to the presence of a typhoon in the proposed strike area, & later the possibilities of interfering with the operations of land based aircraft, the last few days have been devoid of the usual offensive against the enemy mainland. We have on occasion done duty as TBS [Talk Between Ships] link with the neighbouring US Task force, and as such been practically out of sight of all but our fellow links on either side. The usual number of floating mines was sighted and though we opened up at a couple, no positive results were recorded. Today we have refueled again. [HMS] Black Prince & a destroyer are returning to base and it is not anticipated that the rest of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] will remain up here for many more strikes. Tomorrow we store ship, probably commencing in operations on Wednesday.

IWM MH29437 Hiroshima
Hiroshima after Aug 6, 1945. Image copr. IWM MH29437

Extract from August 11: During the past week, US Army planes have dropped two Atom bombs on naval & military bases in Shikoku [actually Hiroshima 6th August, Nagaski 9th August], and over one square mile of built up area is reported completely devastated in both cases. It is now [August 11] stated that the Japanese Government has offered surrender, providing that the Emperor retains his prerogatives. Perhaps this war will soon be over.

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.

IWM A30072 oiling
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 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.

IWM A30305 Euralyus
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.

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).