After steaming down the coast at slow speed last night, we duly passed thru the [Sydney Harbour] Heads, in bright sunshine, just before 0900. We crept up the harbour & secured to buoy one, a very short distance from Man-o-War Steps.
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!
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.
Yesterday [17th] history was made when the Union Jack was hoisted over the British Embassy at Tokyo after nearly four years of war.
A representative party of officers & men from HMS Newfoundland boarded the destroyer [HMS] Quality early yesterday morning and after picking up further parties from KGV [HMS King George V] and destroyers, proceeded to Tokyo. The day was warm & dull and the trip took little over an hour. On arrival at a dirty looking jetty, apparently miles from anywhere, but lined with US Army trucks, the troops were loaded into said trucks & whisked away. The officers were informed that transport for them would be arriving in half an hour. It was nearer an hour later that the trucks returned and the rather fed up officers were able to get under way for the embassy. The journey took about 20 mins & lay through what was left of the city, past the imperial palace gardens. The scenes of destruction were much the same as at Yokohama, though some of the main streets near the city centre appeared practically undamaged with huge tall buildings standing all around. These could do with a good clean. The grass & tree-lined sidewalks were a good sight and the imperial gardens & environs well worth visiting.
At the Embassy, the troops were found to be lined up round the drives & main entrance. Of course, the officers had not been allowed for, & were all pushed up one end, as far as possible from the scene of operations. Then for some time, as other parties & high ranking officers arrived, orders were given and countermanded, and it appeared as if nobody had any clear idea of what was happening. There is no saying how long this might have gone on for, but time marched on, & the Admiral arrived, so the show went on.
Led by the RM [Royal Marine] Band from KGV [HMS King George V], Guards of Honour from the Royal Navy & Royal Marines marched to the front of the building and “presented arms” to the General salute for the Admiral & then to the Royal salute while the band played “the King” and the Union Jack was hoisted. Rear Admiral Brind led three cheers for His Majesty, the King. War correspondents & photographers did their stuff during this moving ceremony and the “changing of the Guard” which followed, when Royal Marines from [HMS] Newfoundland took over the guarding of the Embassy from KGV’s RMs. This was no doubt an extremely interesting and attractive manoeuvre for those who could see it. Unfortunately the band was placed in front of the officers & so successfully obstructed the view that I am unable to give any details or comments except to say that what was visible was done very smartly indeed.
This concluded the show and we were dismissed to devour the bag lunches provided. Thru some lack of foresight on the part of the organizers, no beer was supplied for the officers though the troops seemed to have plenty. There was no opportunity provided for anyone to visit the city shops, & after lunch time hung heavily. A wait round the embassy, which was very pleasant, a short ride in a truck, and a longer wait at the jetty was the lot of most. A little before 1500 [HMS] Quality left the jetty & followed an Australian destroyer bearing the Admiral & other “brass hats” back to the fleet anchorage at Yokohama.
On Sunday [16th], Rear Admiral Brind walked round Divisions and attended church on the Quarterdeck. He was most pleased at our turn-out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On 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.
Yesterday 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.
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.
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.