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.

July 5 (Thurs) 1945, Manus, PNG

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.

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4 ships of the British Pacific Fleet, HMS Euryalus closest. Image copr. IWM A30305

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.

June 10 (Sun) 1945, Manus, Admiralty Islands, PNG

Arrived at Manus about 1000 this afternoon and secured alongside oiler [RFA] Dingledale, an RFA [Royal Fleet Auxiliary]. Units of the British Pacific Fleet are in harbour. These include the Fleet Carrier [HMS] Implacable, Escort Carrier [HMS] Arbiter, and part of the 4th Cruiser Squadron [HMS] Swiftsure, [HMCS] Uganda & [HMNZS] Achilles. Rear Admiral Brind flies his flag in the [HMS] Swiftsure. Other units are believed to be at Sydney.

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Engine room of a cruiser, 1942. Image copr. IWM A8903

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.

May 25 (Thurs) 1945, Auckland, New Zealand

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Two cruisers and two destroyers at Auckland, 1945. Image copr. IWM A28877

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.

May 17 (Thurs) 1945, at sea

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.

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Hollandia, Australian Military & US Navy camps, Dec 1944

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.

April 20 (Fri) 1945, Sydney, Australia

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HMS Belfast in Sydney Harbour, March 1945. Image copr. IWM ABS694

Rain. Buckets of it. Pouring down at the rate of an inch per hour. Thus our welcome to Sydney. Bad visibility, though occasionally the deluge lifted for a short while & we were able to catch a glimpse of green hills, some of them dotted, others covered with light coloured red & green bungalows.

Passed the gate at 1045 and an hour later were secured starboard side to No. 7 berth Woolloomooloo Quay, 24 hours notice for steam.

The trip from Fremantle has been without incident & according to plan. Midshipmen have had more gunnery thrown at them and some navigational work has been done. The seniors in particular are beginning to get down to it as the prospect of exams at Sydney looms larger.

March 28 (Weds) 1945, Gulf of Suez

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A whaler’s crew of Able Seamen, 1942. Image copr. IWM A11474

Tuesday morning, weighted and proceeded out into the Gulf of Suez for Exercises. Carried out a mediocre 4″ HA [High Angle] Shoot at a sleeve target and later fired two torpedoes from the port tubes, one of these doing a cold run. Recovered the torpedoes and returned to same berth, anchoring at Approximately noon. During the Dogs, shore leave was granted and I gather that the sights were not worth seeing. Today we just swung round our “hook”. All leave was cancelled at midday & we were all set to shove off at dusk. We were supposed to go in company HMS Implacable & the Destroyers [HMS] Tumult and [HMS] Terpischore, but unfortunately the carrier was run aground coming through the canal during the afternoon and our departure was postponed. This morning, before they were properly awake, the midshipmen did some Stout work in the 1st whaler. The exercise alone was most beneficial.

March 22 (Thurs) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt [Part 1]

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Royal Marines with sailors leave a ship in a picket boat to make a landing, 1940. Image copr. IWM A130

Last Monday evening, slipped from the buoys about 1800 and proceeded to sea for exercises, beginning with a night tracking with destroyer [HMS] Active. This did not last long & then we headed for Ras-el-Kanayis [west of Alexandria] area for bombardment exercises, arriving soon after dawn. 5 shoots were carried out on Tuesday, all except the “Air observation, ship control”, being very successful. “Air observation and control” was about the best. A section of about 30 Royal Marines was landed in the forenoon in the whalers towed by the Motor Cutter. 3 Midshipmen went in the boat & “a good time was had by all.” Each shoot was carried out by one turret commencing with a broadside of all three guns. Up to five ranging shots were then fired by a single guns joined in the broadsides of “fire for effect”. Opportunity was taken during these shoots to fall out the crews of the Lower Quarters of the turret after the hoists were loaded, & let them have a “look-see” in the Gun-house while firing was in progress. Reduced charges were used throughout, practice projectiles being used for the shore observed shoots, & HE [high explosives] (fused 230) for the air observations.

Anchored that night in position Ras-el-Kanayis Coastguard Stn 127 °, 15 cables, 8 shackles on waterline.

March 18 (Sun) 1945, Alexandria, Egypt

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A rugby match between two Air Force teams in the Western Desert. Image copr. IWM CM5440

Over the weekend have embarked stores & fuel. Captain Mollison, RA [Royal Artillery] the BLO [Officer], gave the midshipmen a lecture in Bombardments on Saturday morning & he is to continue on Monday. A ship’s team took part in a 7-a-side Rugby tournament for the “Finney Cup”. It was a knockout competition, & they did quite well, playing four games & getting into the semi-finals before being beaten after a hard & fast game by Alexandria Sporting Club team, 3-0.