Midshipmen’s Navigation & Seamanship exams were held during the week. All duly passed and now we only have to convince the board of our intelligence & desirability for the good of the service, and all will be well. This trial is expected to take place about the middle of the week. Tomorrow we shift into blues & arrive at Sydney. It is to be hoped that the weather will give us a warmer welcome than last time.
A matter concerning our minds considerably at the moment is the question of leave. What with courses due next year & destroyer service in the meantime, it is doubtful whether we New Zealanders will be this close to home again for at least a couple of years & it is to be hoped that the powers-that-be will see their way clear to letting us make a quick trip across the Tasman.
[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.
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.
Continuing paint ship. For two hours during the forenoon, midshipmen took turns at OOW [Officer of the Watch] for manoeuvering ship. This was most instructive at times. The screen [of destroyers] was acting separately from the main body, & towards the end of the period carried out a torpedo attack run.
In a speech to the ship’s company, the captain said that we would be getting mail & entering Sagami Wan on Sunday.
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:
“…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!”
We 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.
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.
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.
Cape Brett [NZ] light was sighted before dawn & during the forenoon we steamed down the coast of the “Winterless North”. It didn’t look very appealing even to me, even with the sun shining. Picked up the pilot about 1000 & proceeded thru the channel, entering the gate & berthing alongside the cruiser wharf at 1030 (-111/2). It was found that time kept in Auckland was (-12) so clocks were advanced 1/2 hour immediately. I’ve never known it more than -111/2 before myself.
Apart from a certain amount of inclement weather on about the 3rd day out & a breakdown of the port inner main circulator, which delayed us and rather made things awkward for a couple of days, the trip passed without incident. Midshipmen have carried out engineroom watchkeeping & had several lectures on various aspects of engineering in the Navy. I generally find it interesting but the time spent in the engineroom is not at all pleasant.
The ordinary cruising watch organisation was broken down & a special one brought into force, where only the two forward pompoms were manned. Normal cruising watches carried out 6″, 4″ & Close Range shoots at smoke bursts Tuesday forenoon.
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.