Last Saturday [28th July] morning the fleet recommenced air-strikes against the Japanese mainland. Targets were mostly shipping on the inland sea. US 3rd Fleet aircraft have been concentrating with good results on the remnants of the Japanese battle fleet at Kure. Very few ships have been left undamaged.
On Sunday [29th July] we were out of the strike area refueling destroyers. Yesterday [30th July] we went back in and attacks continued. Much shipping of various sorts and many aircraft were destroyed or damaged and left on fire by bombs and cannon fire. Today we met the fleet train & refueled.
Yesterday we embarked stores, mostly vegetables, and later proceeded to the replenishment area of Task Force 38.1 for refueling from a US tanker. This was completed by 0830 this morning. In less than 3 hours we received over 1000 tons of oil, rejoining the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] about noon.
Today we topped up two destroyers with fuel. The fleet is proceeding towards the strike area, and operations are scheduled to begin at dawn tomorrow. It is believed that Tuesday night’s bombardment targets [Tokyo] were factories & railway yards.
Units of the fleet are still oiling. On Friday we met the fleet train & were joined by [HMS] Indefatigable and [HMS] Barfleur. Three cruisers were sent to refuel from US tankers in the train of the next Task Group. We oiled by “buoyant hose” from San Adolfo [tanker] in 5 hours, taking in less than 1000 tons. US destroyers have been with the fleet over the last two days, and Admiral Halsey, USN has been aboard [HMS] King George V.
Today, in a speech to the ship’s company, the captain revealed that, having finished oiling, we would tomorrow meet the US 3rd Fleet comprizing 100 ships, and on Tuesday take part in a combined strike against the Tokyo area.
The fleet train was sighted at dawn on Friday and we took up position & commenced oiling from the “San Amando” [tanker] about 1100. The trough method was used & the operation took 6 hours. During that time [HMNZS] Achilles refuelled by bouyant hose trailed astern of the oiler. Shortly before noon, our two senior mids [midshipmen], complete with baggage, were transferred to a couple of sloops. This “bosun’s chair” transportation must be just about as good as some of the machines at Luna Park, Sydney.
[HMS] Black Prince reported a premature explosion of a VT [Variable Time] fuse in the right gun of its A Turret. Casualties were one died of wounds & several others injured. The turret & remaining gun will apparently be serviceable, although the right is completely out of action.
On Saturday, various ships continued fuelling and today the rest topped up before leaving the fleet train.
Memoir of Lt A Canham
We got all our fuel and supplies from the fleet tankers and supply ships. Watch-keeping at night at 20 knots with no navigation lights and doing a constant zig-zag to avoid submarines kept us on our toes and was very good training for a young officer. There were British supply ships in the fleet train, but we avoided them like the plague. The American ships had much better food and much more of it, but sadly, no rum. We would always go out of our way to get Yankee grub instead of the dried peas sent to us by their Lordships.
After a week’s steaming we are now some 1300 miles east of southern Japan. Tomorrow we meet the fleet train & commence a 2 day refuelling period. Opportunity has been taken during passage to carry out several exercises. Most of these have been concerned with the AA [anti-aircraft] armament and in my new job as AADO [Anti-aircraft Duty Officer] I have had to be on the go a lot of the time. The job is however interesting and I feel that I am at least earning my keep.
HMS Barfleur had to return to Manus as trouble developed with her main armament on the third day out.
Last Saturday we oiled 3 destroyers, giving them about 90 tons each. This went off quite well. On the basis of time taken and fuel passed, [HMNZS] Gambia was judged the most efficient at oiling.
Several floating mines have been sighted. I am rather surprised that no action has been taken to sink them.
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.
Slipped from Woolloomooloo Quay at 0900 last Friday morning and left harbour. Just outside the Heads we were subjected to a massed air attack by [CAC] Boomerangs & Kingfishers carrying out torpedo & dive-bombing attacks. On conclusion, course was set for Manus, Admiralty Islands.
On Sunday, we shifted into topical rig & Divisions were held on the Quarterdeck.
Shipping of various sorts was met with during the trip. HMS Argonaut passed us last night. The weather has been warm & clear for the most part.
Entered Seeadler Harbour at [missing] this morning and anchored at the Eastern end near the floating docks. Weighed anchor about 1400 and secured alongside US oiler “Victorian”. Refueling was completed by 1800 and we proceeded to anchor further up the harbour. Ships in Company included HMS Illustrious. Today the war in Europe has ended. Slight resistance is continuing at a few points but is not expected to last long, and Tuesday the 8th of May is to be celebrated as VE [Victory in Europe] day. “Splice the Mainbrace” was ordered.
Warm fine weather has continued. The forenoon exercised oiling destroyer with HMS Tumult. It came up on our Starboard side and on the second attempt, a coston gun line was successfully passed. After a small amount of playing about, the spring was secured & the hose taken across by crane. Some of the tricing lines were unfortunately twisted, making things a little more difficult and it was 25 mins from the time of passing the line from the coston gun to the time pumping was started. A hundred-odd pounds of bread were passed over to the destroyer by line. I’m afraid some of the crew imagined it was mail. Later on carried out an RCX, also with HMS Tumult, and this afternoon [HMS} Implacable has been flying off most of its planes at various times.
Yesterday, just before lunch, we passed the battle-cruiser [HMS] Renown, bound, I should say, for Suez & eventually the UK and a refit, after spending a couple of years out East. Noon position, 2nd April, 12° 08’N, 50° 58′ E & today 3rd April, 10° 50’N, 58° 08′ E.
Last Tuesday morning we left the Quay & proceeded to the berth at F buoy. A tug aided us to carry out director tests soon after securing, & in the afternoon we embarked oil fuel. Next day (yesterday) we slipped at 0845 & left harbour for exercises. An RIX [Range & Inclination Exercise] with [HMS] Nubian was carried out & later in the afternoon, a close range shoot. A sleeve was shot down during this exercise. Sea boats were exercised at recovering life buoys during the Dog Watches [1600-2000]. After dark [HMS] Nubian attacked us with Torpedoes. This was not a very good show apparently, though not as bad as Forecastle’s effort with the sea boat.
Today, carried out a 4″ HA [High Angle] shoot at towed sleeve and later a 6″ fall calibre shoot at a BPT [Battle Practice Target]. There is nothing particular to be said about the HA, but the 6″ was a special exercise to investigate line problems. After calibration salvos from Y Turret, A & B let fly with a broadside & thereafter only one gun per turret was fired each time, six rounds per gun being the average expenditure. The shot did not start off too well but improved considerably as it progressed.
During the afternoon we anchored a couple of miles west of Ras-El-Tin & carried out D/F [Direction finder] tests. A trawler full of experts circled round us till about 1600 when we sent a whaler over to fetch them. Later contact with [HMS] Nubian was also made by whaler. [HMS] Nubian is apparently off somewhere, as before parting, we signalled them “Good Luck”.
Entered harbour and secured alongside Mahmoudieh Quay at 1800, bows south.