August 20 (Mon) 1945, at sea, off Japan

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HMS Newfoundland landing parties preparing. Image copr. C Canham

Yesterday evening we received orders that we were to be ready to disembark landing parties at 8 hours notice. During early hours this morning further orders were received and soon after 0500 Landing parties began mustering on the QD [Quarter deck] to receive further equipment in preparation for embarking during the forenoon. At 1030 we stopped engines & a high speed transport lay off our port quarter while landing craft ferried the troops across. Despite the wild motions of the craft when alongside, all personnel & gear passed safely down the scrambling nets and, as far as we know, up into the transport without incident. The departing force did manage to take with them the hammocks of 4 men going on draught, but better that than leaving something behind, I imagine! At the last moment, orders were received to reduce the HQ Staff, and two Mids & several ratings & marines were left on board, much to their chagrin.

 

On Sunday [19th], apart from divisions & church, hands were employed provisioning ship. Japanese Peace envoys arrived at Manila for conferences with, or rather to receive orders from, General MacArthur’s representatives in the afternoon.

Extract from the memoirs of Lt A Canham:

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White flag at the gun battery. Image copr. C Canham

“…hundreds of ships of the fleet were prepared to enter Tokyo Bay to accept the surrender.  But guarding the entrance to the harbor was a small island with a very modern battery of six-inch guns.  Newfoundland was ordered to send a landing party ashore to “spike the guns.”  Being a young lieutenant I was put in charge of the landing party and we were issued rifles and helmets and a borrowed American landing craft and went ashore at dawn.  Expecting the worst, we were pleased to be met by a smiling Japanese officer waving a white flag in one hand and a Japanese-English dictionary in the other.  We went through the gun emplacements and magazines, destroying everything that could be used against the fleet.  We then hoisted the White Ensign and the Stars and Stripes at the entrance to the harbor.  A very proud and happy moment!”

August 18 (Sat) 1945, at sea, off Japan

August 18 1945 US 3rd shipsWe refueled again today from British Oilers. Yesterday [17th] all ships of the 3rd Fleet rendezvoused for massed photographs. The total must have been approaching the 200 mark, & no doubt it will give the Japanese something to think about when they all approach Tokyo. On Thursday [16th] at dawn, we were joined by Admiral Fraser in DOY [HMS Duke of York].

The organization and training of the landing parties have proceeded apace. The BPF [British Pacific Fleet] or what there is of it, is providing a reduced brigade. Newfoundland’s share, apart from RMs [Royal Marines], is 2 Platoons & a HQ Sect [Head-quarters Section], with the Gunnery Officer in charge. Four mids [midshipmen] have been detailed to go, & are objects of a certain amount of envy to their fellow officers in the Gunroom.

Japanese peace envoys are a long time in making their appearance at Manila and other places designated by the Supreme Commander [General MacArthur], and fighting is still going on in Burma & Manchuria. This disorganization is probably explained by the changes that have been effected in the Japanese Cabinet. Members of the Royal Family are said to be touring the battle fronts to ensure that the Royal Decree to cease fighting reaches all positions & is carried out.

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.

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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.”

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 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.

 

 

October 1 (Sun) 1944, Greenock, Scotland

Sunday Divisions [when the Captain inspected the crew] as usual but no Church Service owing to temporary lack of chaplain. The ship was supposed to shift berth back to previous position in dock sometime in forenoon, but was postponed till tomorrow. This evening the “Unique Concert Party” gave a performance in the cinema, and at the conclusion of the show, the leading lady was presented with a bouquet by Midshipman Lewis. From what those who went say, those who didn’t go, didn’t miss very much.

September 30 (Sat) 1944, Greenock, Scotland [Part 1]

front-sml-2016-10-11-21-15-56Joined ship at James Watt Dock, Greenock [Scotland, west of Glasgow], on Tuesday 26th Sept, from leave after Minesweeping Course (10 day at HMS “Lochinvar”, Granton [north Edinburgh]).

The weather was usual for Scotland in autumn, & showed no signs of improving. Ship has been refitting for 5 months after 8 months refit Boston, Mass, USA following being torpedoed in the Med in 1943 [23 July, by Italian submarine Aschianghi].

Still a bit of a shambles & looks as if it will be here for a month or two yet. Will look fine when cleared up though. Modified ‘Figi’ class – 9 six-inch, 8 four-inch and pom-poms, bofors, etc and 6 21″ torpedo tubes.

Gunroom is quite reasonable but chest flat and slinging billets are definitely not. However, ship is a little disorganised at present, & things will probably improve in time. Bathroom is great improvement on that in [HMS]”Jamaica“. Will be better when we get more cupboards & mirrors. It’s supposed to be just a matter of time!

Tuesday afternoon we got acquainted with some of the ship and our slinging billets, and generally sorted things out.

Complement is about 800 (including the the best part of a hundred Radar ratings) and about 60 officers. 1 extra paymaster Sub in Gunroom & 15 “snotties”[Midshipmen] including a paymaster to come.

Wednesday forenoon, the “Snotties’ Nurse”, Lt Commander (N) Clutterbuck gave a short talk & latter introduced us to the Captain.[RW Ravenhill, CBE,DSC,RN]

In the afternoon, “Schoolie”, Instructor Lt Hall, carried on with nav. revision.

NZ mail certainly has been piling up here. It’ll take a while to write all the replies.

Who, what, when, and why?

spine-sml-2016-10-11-21-17-21Recently I rediscovered the log book of a relative from the time he was a midshipman on the HMS Newfoundland as a member of the RNZN during WWII. He kept it during the last year of the war, from September 1944 until September 1945, when aged 19-20. I have never read it all the way through; it has been kept for many years in a box with other momentoes.

I didn’t know this man and know little about his life – with preparing these extracts I may come to know a little more. I am not a naval historian, although I am an historian of a different kind, and I intend to present material interesting for all.

The S519 was the Journal for the use of Junior Officers Afloat. From inside the front cover: “The objects of keeping the Journal are to train Midshipmen in a) the power of observation. b) the power of expression. c) the habit of orderliness.” The supervisor and the Captain were to inspect the entries from time to time and the log was marked as part of the examination for the rank of Lieutenant. For other rules see About

For information about the HMS Newfoundland please visit the Wikipedia page and HMS Newfoundland Association