We are now in a position about 21 S Lat & 400 miles from the Australian coast. Our meeting with the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] tomorrow is intended to begin at dawn with mutual air strikes against one another.
Exercises carried out during the week include firing at smoke bursts by defence watch crews, & repelling dummy air attacks. Also dive bombing of smoke floats, exercising blind fire procedure and the usual radar calibrations and HFX, etc. Yesterday [HMS] Implac. oiled the Destroyers. This morning one of the Carrier’s Seafires failed to come out of a dive during runs at a smoke float. The plane began to fall to pieces & then blew up. The search for the pilot was unsuccessful.
Last Tuesday morning, we left harbour for working up exercises. On completion of the alloted serials, we anchored in “Mex Roads” for the night. The same procedure was followed every day for the rest of the week except yesterday, when we returned to our berth, (F buoy) early in the afternoon.
The exercises included 6″ sub & full calibre shoots at moored targets, 4″ & Close-Range shoots at towed [behind aircraft] sleeve targets (one was shot down), TB [torpedo bomb] attacks by Avenger aircraft, during which opportunity was taken to exercise the 6″ Barrage Units, Massed Air attacks by Corsairs, Seafires & Avengers, MTB [Motor Torpedo Boat] attacks (mainly for plotting exercise) and the highlight of the week was, of course, the night encounter with HMS Active [destroyer] Unfortunately, during this last, & for the other spectacular exercises too, for that matter, hands were closed up at Action Stations, and consequently, only a small proportion of the ship’s company was able to view the show. This seems rather a pity & I think that as many people as possible should be able to watch these fun & games so that when it comes to the real thing, they will have some idea of what is going on. Sitting in an enclosed space, not knowing or being able to guess what is happening above is a very poor sport.
On anchoring at night, seaboats were exercised at recovering lifebuoys. This manoeuvre was well executed. Preparations for oiling [transferring oil from one ship to another] destroyer were also made one forenoon. The official verdict on the week’s work up is apparently “Good Progress”.
HMS Sirius & HMCS Uganda [Canadian] have arrived in Alexandria during the week, the latter bringing very welcome Xmas parcel mail from the UK.