September 26 (Weds) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM 28081 Brind & Swiftsure
Rear Admiral Brind (left) with Captain McLaughlin of HMS Swiftsure. Image copr. IWM 28081

[HMS] Swiftsure secured alongside starboard and at 1400 Rear Admiral Brind was pulled round the bows of both ships in a whaler manned by officers. Hands were mustered on the Forecastle, and led by the Captain, cheered the Admiral as he passed. On completion, shifted berth astern of [HMS] Swiftsure. The ashes of 22 British Prisoners of War were taken on board [HMNZS] Gambia for passage to Australia.

Early yesterday morning we transferred frozen meat to Destroyers & embarked passengers, including Mr Archer ex-consul-general at Tokyo [possibly not correct], and his wife & family. Soon after 1100 we were under way & by about 1400 out of Sagami Wan. The outer shafts only are being used this trip to enable maintenance work to be done on the other unit. In view of the approaching exams, Midshipmen have been excused watchkeeping & are able to devote their time to Navigation & Seamanship.

This evening we rendezvoused with HMS Wizard and took our mail.


September 23 (Sun) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

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!

IWM A30539 Swiftsure
HMS Swiftsure had led at the liberation of Hong Kong. Image copr. IWM A30539

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.

September 18 (Tues) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

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.

newf 18
Ceremony at British Embassy, Tokyo. Image copr. C Canham

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.


September 15 (Sat) 1945, Yokohama, Japan [Part 2]

Sight seeing parties from the ships are allowed to visit Yokohama now. Our quota is 75 men at a time, divided into parties of less than 20 with an officer, armed with revolver, in charge of each party. None of the men are allowed to be armed in any way whatsoever.

IWM A30578 Tokyo
Bomb damage in Tokyo, with the wreckage of buses in a Tokyo street. Copyright: © IWM A 30578. Original Source:

Most of Yokohama has been razed to the ground. Apart from a few concrete buildings near the centre of the town, there is very little except acres & acres of rubble & scrap iron. The damage would seem to have been caused by firebombs as the roads (concrete) were all in good condition and tram services still running. The civil populace, all of whom looked adequately fed, lives in tin shacks amidst the rubble. Their hospitals were apparently intact and working. Apart from a few busses, running on producer gas, and bicycles, the only traffic on the roads was US Army vehicles. The Yanks are everywhere, & digging themselves well in. The most popular medium of exchange ashore is cigarettes, with American brands more sought after than British.

The repatriation of Prisoners of war is proceeding apace. Most of Honshu has been cleared and destroyers are making trips to outlying camps & depots. Nearly every evening we have turned out to cheer a ship load of repatriates going past. HMNZS Gambia has gone to Wakayama to pick up a batch of men. All on board here wish we could have the chance to do something useful & assist in the good work.


September 15 (Sat) 1945, Yokohama, Japan [Part 1]

An innovation this week has been the holding of Divisions on the forecastle daily at 0900. Officers of Divisions turn up to this, and the Padre and band are also present for prayers & the singing of a hymn.

On Tuesday [11th] afternoon we shifted to berth F29, considerably nearer to Yokohama. The ships of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] present and a large number of USN heavy craft are in this Anchorage.

In connection with the ceremony to be held at the British Embassy in Tokyo on Monday, we sent ashore a party to help clean the place up a bit and a squad of Royal Marines has been training in preparation for taking over guard duties there next week. We also have a platoon of Naval ratings guarding HMS Thracian, a British S class destroyer, which was scuttled at Hong Kong in ’41, raised by the Japanese, and found at Yokosuka in a fairly reasonably & repairable condition when the landing forces went ashore.

Memoir of Lt A Canham

newf 14
HMS Newfoundland sailors at Yokosuka Naval Base. Image copr. C Canham

After the fleet entered the harbor, the Newfoundland landing party was sent to Yokosuka Naval Base.  We found it mostly deserted, and with no transportation we commandeered fire engines to drive ourselves around the base.  We found miles of tunnels under the base and we had to inspect them all to be sure they weren’t mined.  There we discovered crates and crates of guns, ammunition, silver plates, and swords.


September 10 (Mon) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

IWM A16672
Midshipmen studying in the gun room, 1943. Image copr. IWM A16672

Last Thursday [6th] signal was received to the effect that Midshipmen’s exams would start on the 10th Sept. With only four days notice & coming after two months ops. [operations] this seemed rather sudden to us. Rear Admiral Brind took up our cause and dispatched strongly worded signals to VABPF [Vice Admiral British Pacific Force]. Results were slow & disappointing till this morning just before we were due to start, when we were told that the exams were postponed for one month. This respite is most welcome though it means a few weeks of hard work.

The weather improved during the week, a couple of days of bright sunshine increasing our yearning for a “dip in the briney”. However, swimming is definitely “off” here, and there is no doubt that at times the appearance of the water is enough to deter most people anyway.

September 5 (Weds) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

IWM FL962 Ariadne
Minelayer HMS Ariadne, September 1943. Image copr. IWM FL962

Today HMS Ariadne secured alongside, bringing a draft from Sydney. A closer view of this ship only went to confirm earlier impressions of neatness & smartness. Our landing party was returned during the afternoon by HMAS Napier. They have all brought back a lot of souvenirs & appear in good spirits despite the lack of washing facilities & amenities ashore. Though perhaps they are just pleased at getting back!

September 4 (Tues), 1945, Tokyo Bay, Japan

IWM A30513 HMS Speaker
Cheers from HMS Duke of York as HMS Speaker departs with the first 500+ POWs  © IWM (A30513) Original Source:

Yesterday afternoon (3rd), the lower deck was cleared when the CVE [HMS] “Speaker”, carrying several hundred British & empire PsOW, passed round the fleet before leaving the Bay, bound for Australia. All ships gave them a great send-off. We hope it will not be long before we are following them.

Just before midday, HMS Ariadne entered harbour & anchored to the west of us. It is a very neat job of the Aldiel minelaying class, reputed to be capable of a speed of over 40 knots.

September 2 VJ-Day, 1945, Tokyo Bay, Japan

IWM A30511 Flagship sunset
Ensigns from all the Allied nations flown from HMS Duke of York on VJ-Day ceremonial sunset. Image copr. IWM A30511

This forenoon, Japanese envoys, including their foreign minister, and representatives of the United Nations, including the Supreme Allied Commander, General of the Armies, Douglas McArthur, met together on board USS Missouri, and signed documents for the complete surrender of Japan & its empire. The ship’s company were able to listen to a broadcast of the ceremony after Divisions & church. The day was generally celebrated by all who were in a position to do so. The ceremonial sunset on board the flag-ship [HMS] Duke of York was very colourful & moving.

For the third time in the last 9 months the order was given to “Splice the Mainbrace”. No doubt this was appreciated by the troops. Personally I would much prefer a pint of good cider. Letters posted today will be specially stamped “VJ-Day, Tokyo Bay”, aboard ship.

September 1 (Sat) 1945, Tokyo Bay, Japan

newf 9
Some of the HMS Newfoundland landing party. Image copr. C Canham.

The weather is still very dull. Our landing party has apparently hit the shore & all is proceeding according to plan. By request, the HQ staff who were left behind as unnecessary have been sent ashore to join them, and it all would seem to be a huge picnic. It is to be hoped that the rest of the ship’s company will be able to land & have a look-see later on.