August 15 (Weds) 1945, at sea, off Japan

Recommenced air strikes at dawn. Just before 0700, when the second strike was on its way out, a signal was received from C-in-C Pac [Commander in Chief Pacific] to “cancel all strikes”. Our aircraft were recalled but we maintained CAP. At 1120 signal was made by C-in-C “Cease hostilities against Japan”. The Captain said a few words over the broadcaster, & hardly had the cheering died away, when an enemy aircraft dived into the sea in flames, off our port quarter, and a bomb dropped astern of [HMS]Indefatigable. Other raiders were suspected to be above the fleet & hands went to repel aircraft stations. We stayed there for the next three hours while our fighters disposed of several enemy planes. Thus our cession of hostilities. The remainder of the day was uneventful.

IWM Docts.10455
Burma Star broadsheet announcing surrender. Crown Copyright IWM (Documents.10455)

At noon (Japanese time) the Emperor spoke to the people of the empire over the radio, announcing the acceptance of the Japanese Government of the Allied demands made at Potsdam. This was the first that the enemy people heard of the peace negotiations, and it will not be surprising if certain elements continue to resist, despite the Imperial order to lay down arms.

Extract from memoirs of Lt A Canham

“When the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered and we dropped our guard for the first time in six years…….
As every ship was celebrating and flying its flags and colors and battle ensigns,  a flight of kamikazes came out of the sky.  Nobody was watching the radar or keeping a lookout.  Nobody was doing anything except engaging in exuberant joy! The war was over.  They had given up.  We had won.  Newfoundland was steaming about two hundred yards off the quarter of the carrier [HMS]Implacable when two kamikazes came in completely unopposed.  Nobody fired at them, we were all too busy……  Both planes went into the water between the two ships, missing us both.”

July 6 (Fri) 1945, at sea

IWM A30192 BPF
View from HMS Formidable’s flight deck with HMS Implacable & Victorious plus destroyers on their way to meet US 3rd Fleet. Image copr. IWM A30192.

At dawn this morning the fleet began leaving harbour, bound for a rendezvous with the US 3rd Fleet off Japan. Our carrier planes will take part in air strikes against the enemy mainland, and we do not expect to see harbour again for six weeks. The fleet at present totals 25 ships – [HMS] KGV [King George V] (Vice Admiral Rawlings), Formidable, Implacable, Victorious, 6 of the 4th CS and the rest destroyers, including [HMS] Barfleur, one of the new battle class.

4″ and close range shoots were carried out with moderate success. Our course is North East.

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).

June 29 (Fri) 1945, Coral Sea

June 29 1945We are now in a position about 21 S Lat & 400 miles from the Australian coast. Our meeting with the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] tomorrow is intended to begin at dawn with mutual air strikes against one another.

Exercises carried out during the week include firing at smoke bursts by defence watch crews, & repelling dummy air attacks. Also dive bombing of smoke floats, exercising blind fire procedure and the usual radar calibrations and HFX, etc. Yesterday [HMS] Implac. oiled the Destroyers. This morning one of the Carrier’s Seafires failed to come out of a dive during runs at a smoke float. The plane began to fall to pieces & then blew up. The search for the pilot was unsuccessful.

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 21 (Thurs) 1945, Manus, PNG

During the past few days we have embarked ammunition, stores & fresh water. Mid(s) Becker, RN. left on Monday, bound for S/Lts [Sub Lieutenant] courses in the UK.

On Tuesday, HMS Swiftsure secured to our port side and the staff of the 4th C S [Cruiser Squadron] began transferring to us. Rear Admiral Brind came over at 1400 & was introduced to all the officers on the quarterdeck. Soon after, [HMS] Swiftsure returned to her anchorage.

The following day, the Admiral and about a dozen of his staff left for Sydney by Air.

IWM A28020 HMS Pioneer
HMS Pioneer, aircraft maintenance ship, 1945. Image copr. IWM A28020

This forenoon, an unusual looking Carrier dropped anchor near [HMS] Implacable. It appeared to have very little armament & radar and an odd superstructure aft, to say nothing of a large crane forward. The name is [HMS] Pioneer and it is evidently an aircraft repair ship. HMS Swiftsure has gone to Sydney for a short refit. It is anticipated that CS4 will be returning from there in [HMNZS] Gambia with the rest of the British Pacific Fleet.

 

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 17 (Sun) 1945, off Truk/Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia [Part 1]

Last Tuesday [June 12], proceeded to sea in company with [HMS] Implacable, Ruler, the 4th Cruiser Squadron [HMS Swiftsure, HMS Argonaut, HMS Black Prince, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Gambia], and 24th Destroyer Flotilla, comprizing [HMS] Tenacious, Termagant, Troubridge, Teazer and Terpischore, our objective being the Jap[anese] held island of Truk, once an enemy base in the SW Pacific. It was by-passed in the advance to the Philippine Islands but has been under almost daily aerial bombardment by the US Air forces ever since.

IWM A29463 Truk
Firefly aircraft of the British Pacific Fleet had just loosed their Rocket Projectiles to score direct hits on Moen Radio Station, Truk. Image copr. IWM A29463

The operation and our force were designated respectively Inmate and TG 111, Rear Admiral Brind flying his flag in [HMS] Swiftsure. Air exercises were carried out during the two days (T-2 & T-1) spent in reaching the strike area. We arrived there, about 70 miles to the SW of Truk, early on Thurday morning [June 14]. At first light, Implacable flew off a strike of about 20 aircraft – Seafires, Avengers, & Fireflies. Soon after this was completed, we were turned out to a Repel Aircraft Alarm. The Bogey was however identified as an Air/Sea Rescue Catalina patrolling the area. Two hours later, another strike was flown off, and the first landed on. This routine was continued throughout the hours of daylight, a total of 6 waves being sent off. Casualties were one Seafire, lost on operations, and 2 Avengers which fell into the sea on taking off. The crews of the latter were rescued by Destroyers. Two Fireflies and one Avenger were slightly damaged by enemy “flak”. No air opposition was met by our attacking planes, and Airfields, aircraft, Radar installations & gun positions were bombed & straffed with fair success.

At frequent intervals throughout the day, the A/S R [Air/Sea Rescue] craft was cause for for alarm reports, & our fighters were constantly investigating. The crew of the Catalina must have been impressed, & probably a little worried, by the attention paid them.

During daylight hours, a two watch system was in force, but after dark, this was broken down into 1 in 4. Night intruder patrols were sent off by [HMS]Implacc, the last landing on again soon after midnight. One Avenger drove into the sea over the carrier bows. Searchlights were quickly organized, and survivors were rescued by a Destroyer. When we left harbour HMS Ruler carried on board one only Walrus for rescue work. Unfortunately, this aircraft was blown overboard in a strong wind at night, which left the carrier without any useful purpose in life.

 

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.

IWM A8903 engine room
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.

April 8 (Sun) 1945, Indian Ocean

IWM A15591
Troopship, 1943. Image copr. IWM A15591.

Yesterday midday, shifted from alongside [HMS] Ceylon, to berth 20A, the next astern, where a large troopship had been secured when we entered. [HMS] Ceylon proceeded to dry dock. Had a quick look ashore in the evening & was very favourably impressed with the clean neat little town. Quite a change from Alexandria, in fact, & very quiet. Almost dead.

Today we continued embarking large quantities of stores and after a false alarm during the 1st Dog [watch], left harbour during the First [watch], bound for Fremantle, Australia, calling at the Cocos Isles on the way. [HMS] Chaser & Implacable also departed during the day and it is anticipated that we will overtake [HMS] Chaser tomorrow night. Six watch tropical routine is in force.