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.
Entered harbour after an AA [anti-aircraft] shoot yesterday forenoon. All ships were flying the “Stars & Stripes” in honour of the US Independence Day. On arrival, commenced to embark stores & fuel. This continued all today ammunition & water being taken on board in addition. Two of our senior midshipmen left the ship on transfer to sloops. There were also several changes amongst the wardroom officers. Two RNR [Royal Naval Reserve] midshipmen joined us. It looks as if we will soon be leaving harbour for quite a long period, rumour says, over 6 weeks.
Last Sunday at sea, no exercises were carried out. [HMS] Euryalus developed boiler trouble and returned straight to Manus, at 27 knots!
Monday, the fleet carried out main armament throw off shoots at each other. Our victim was [HMCS] Uganda. All went well. A Damage Control exercise took up the afternoon and a night encounter the evening. We did not put up such a good show in this latter, but [HMS] Black Prince’s starshell were very good indeed. On Tuesday we carried out a throw off shoot at a Seafire simulating kamikaze attacks, with indifferent results. This no doubt will be improved on. We hope so anyway.
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.
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.
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.
On 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.
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.
Last Friday week, with the aid of a couple of tugs the ship was moved to the training wharf opposite HMNZS Philomel. Early Saturday morning it wharfed itself into the Calliope dock.
On Saturday, a party of about 400 officers & ratings were taken to Rotorua by train for the day. This outing was apparently well organized & enjoyed by all.
Last Friday we embarked supplies of 6″ & 4″ ammunition & completed storing ship. On the Wednesday the ship was returned to berth at the cruiser wharf, bows east.
The weather has not been particularly encouraging except for the last couple of days which have been very nice. We were all set to leave last Saturday, but Friday night sailing was postponed & an opportunity was given to many to attend the Races at Ellerslie on Saturday Afternoon.
This morning we slipped from the jetty at 0930, passing the gate at 0940. Close range shoots were carried out in the Hauraki Gulf during the forenoon at a sleeve target towed by an Avenger Aircraft. 3 targets were shot down. Course was set for Manus, cruising turbines being engaged & two boilers only steaming. Passed Cape Brett at dusk and set course to leave New Caledonia almost 50 miles to Starboard.
Arrived off Seeadler harbour yesterday morning. 4″ & Close Range shoots at a sleeve target were carried out, the CR [close range] succeeding in shooting it down. The 4″ was not so good. We entered harbour & secured alongside an oiler just before lunch, casting off & anchoring at tea time, not far from the main base & officers club.
Today, after cancelling several signals for stores & equipment, we weighed at midday and set course for Auckland, NZ. Although, this is good news, about the best I’ve heard since I joined the service, I feel that I would rather have stayed up in the war for another 6 months or so before going home. I think the ship’s company are feeling somewhat “choked” about it. They think it is about time we did something useful too. Still, the folks back there would be pleased to see me, anyway. It is unfortunate that we are going there at this time of year as I doubt that the weather will be at all pleasant.
[Additional extract from the memoirs of Lt A C]
At one point we were required to go into dry dock for repairs, but the kamikazes had been so active and so many ships hit, that every dry dock in our area was full. The Navy told us they were sorry, but we’d have to go to New Zealand for repairs.
Hollandia is a pleasant-looking, fairly large natural harbour. There is plenty of water in most places but boat running has been something of a trial owing to a large no. of inaccurately charted reefs & some not charted at all. At one stage, in fact, all the ship’s boats were unusable, & the Midshipmen concerned have had their leave stopped.
Swimming from the ship has not been permitted but a good time was had by all at Pie Beach, a large stretch of shore-line covered with grey sand. The Officers Club ashore has proved popular & it is to be feared that all the Midshipmen did not distinguish themselves by their good behaviour.
Since Hollandia was captured a [few] years ago, it has been a base for the US 7th Fleet & the AIF [Australian Imperial Force]. Now things are fairly quiet again but there are still a large administrative organization and numerous dockyard installations ashore. We had hoped to ammunition ship here but supplies were not available.
About 0900 this morning in bright sunshine, we left the harbour & the Australian Cruiser squadron, bound for Manus. The operations round Wewak have proceeded well & it is not considered that we will be required there again. Soon after leaving harbour we were subjected to dummy air attacks by RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] planes.
Sunday Routine with prayers on the QD [Quarterdeck], then pipe down, shore leave being granted to a watch & a half. “Hands to Bathe” was piped during the forenoon & also later on. No sharks were encountered and all swimmers were returned safely.
[HMS] Illustrious, [HMS] Whelp & [HMS] Wager left about dawn this morning, & soon after a convoy of transports & supply vessels began to enter. [HMAS] Arunta went out about 1400. We proceeded to sea at dusk, and after exercising action stations, when opportunity was taken to load the 6″ hoists, settled down to 4 watch routine, course westerly, in company with [HMAS] Arunta. [see map May 8]