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

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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.

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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.

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 27 (Fri) 1945, at sea, off Japan

July 27 1945 BPFYesterday we embarked stores, mostly vegetables, and later proceeded to the replenishment area of Task Force 38.1 for refueling from a US tanker. This was completed by 0830 this morning. In less than 3 hours we received over 1000 tons of oil, rejoining the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] about noon.

 

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 19 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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Seafire fighters over Japan, 17 July 1945, from HMS Implacable. Image copr. IWM A29964

We are now on our way back to the replenishment area after two days in the strike area. Tuesday commenced with a narrow escape from collision with [HMS] Quadrant. About 0400 the carriers began flying off the first strike. There was cloud about & visibility was poor. Several aircraft came down in the sea during the day & three were lost on operations. According to signals received, targets successfully attacked included airfield (Niigata), shipping & rail transport. During the afternoon [HMS] King George V and two destroyers were dispatched to take part in a night bombardment of Hitachi. On Wednesday, though the weather was getting worse, airstrikes were continued. [HMS] King George V returned early in the morning, apparently no worse for wear. Defence watches were closed up during daylight hours and hands went to “Repel Aircraft” stations several times without anything eventuating.

Memoirs of Lt A Canham

……in time to take part in a series of unbelievably exciting strikes against the Japanese. All sixteen fleet carriers were flying off bombers escorted by fighters. One of our jobs was to pick up bailed out pilots. We also provided a destroyer to serve as a “delousing station.” The Japanese had a nasty habit of hiding kamikazes among returning British and American aircraft. The destroyer would be stationed between the carriers and the Japanese, and all planes would fly over the “delousing station” to be identified before returning to their carriers.

 

July 6 (Fri) 1945, at sea

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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.

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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).