September 26 (Weds) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM 28081 Brind & Swiftsure
Rear Admiral Brind (left) with Captain McLaughlin of HMS Swiftsure. Image copr. IWM 28081

[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.

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September 18 (Tues) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

Yesterday [17th] history was made when the Union Jack was hoisted over the British Embassy at Tokyo after nearly four years of war.

A representative party of officers & men from HMS Newfoundland boarded the destroyer [HMS] Quality early yesterday morning and after picking up further parties from KGV [HMS King George V] and destroyers, proceeded to Tokyo. The day was warm & dull and the trip took little over an hour. On arrival at a dirty looking jetty, apparently miles from anywhere, but lined with US Army trucks, the troops were loaded into said trucks & whisked away. The officers were informed that transport for them would be arriving in half an hour. It was nearer an hour later that the trucks returned and the rather fed up officers were able to get under way for the embassy. The journey took about 20 mins & lay through what was left of the city, past the imperial palace gardens. The scenes of destruction were much the same as at Yokohama, though some of the main streets near the city centre appeared practically undamaged with huge tall buildings standing all around. These could do with a good clean. The grass & tree-lined sidewalks were a good sight and the imperial gardens & environs well worth visiting.

At the Embassy, the troops were found to be lined up round the drives & main entrance. Of course, the officers had not been allowed for, & were all pushed up one end, as far as possible from the scene of operations. Then for some time, as other parties & high ranking officers arrived, orders were given and countermanded, and it appeared as if nobody had any clear idea of what was happening. There is no saying how long this might have gone on for, but time marched on, & the Admiral arrived, so the show went on.

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Ceremony at British Embassy, Tokyo. Image copr. C Canham

Led by the RM [Royal Marine] Band from KGV [HMS King George V], Guards of Honour from the Royal Navy & Royal Marines marched to the front of the building and “presented arms” to the General salute for the Admiral & then to the Royal salute while the band played “the King” and the Union Jack was hoisted. Rear Admiral Brind led three cheers for His Majesty, the King. War correspondents & photographers did their stuff during this moving ceremony and the “changing of the Guard” which followed, when Royal Marines from [HMS] Newfoundland took over the guarding of the Embassy from KGV’s RMs. This was no doubt an extremely interesting and attractive manoeuvre for those who could see it. Unfortunately the band was placed in front of the officers & so successfully obstructed the view that I am unable to give any details or comments except to say that what was visible was done very smartly indeed.

This concluded the show and we were dismissed to devour the bag lunches provided. Thru some lack of foresight on the part of the organizers, no beer was supplied for the officers though the troops seemed to have plenty. There was no opportunity provided for anyone to visit the city shops, & after lunch time hung heavily. A wait round the embassy, which was very pleasant, a short ride in a truck, and a longer wait at the jetty was the lot of most. A little before 1500 [HMS] Quality left the jetty & followed an Australian destroyer bearing the Admiral & other “brass hats” back to the fleet anchorage at Yokohama.

On Sunday [16th], Rear Admiral Brind walked round Divisions and attended church on the Quarterdeck. He was most pleased at our turn-out.

 

September 10 (Mon) 1945, Yokohama, Japan

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Midshipmen studying in the gun room, 1943. Image copr. IWM A16672

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.

June 30 (Sat) 1945, Coral Sea

At 0530 this morning we went into defense (AA [Anti-aircraft]) watches, and at first light [HMS] Implac. began flying off strikes. We turned out to a “repel Aircraft” alarm just after 0600, but no attack developed and it is assumed that the cause was reconnaissance machines. About 0800 another alarm was given & this turned out to be the real thing. After 20 mins or so the attackers withdrew, and we & [HMCS] Uganda continued to our R/V [rendezvous] with [HMNZS] Gambia and Admiral Brind. We carried out an RCX [radar calibration exercise] on the way, meeting them, in company with [HMS] Black Prince & [HMS] Euryalus, before noon.

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Transfer of staff between ships by Bosun’s chair, 1943. Image copr. IWM A17950.

After lunch, the Admiral and his staff transferred to us by Bosun’s chair. By dusk tonight, ships in company were [HMS] King George V (BS1) [battleship], [HMS] Formidable (AC1) [aircraft carrier], [HMS] Implacable, [HMS] Victorious, 4 Cruisers and nine Destroyers (RAD in [HMS] Barfleur, one of the new Battle-class).

June 21 (Thurs) 1945, Manus, PNG

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.

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HMS Pioneer, aircraft maintenance ship, 1945. Image copr. IWM A28020

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.

 

June 17 (Sun) 1945, off Truk/Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia [Part 1]

Last Tuesday [June 12], proceeded to sea in company with [HMS] Implacable, Ruler, the 4th Cruiser Squadron [HMS Swiftsure, HMS Argonaut, HMS Black Prince, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Gambia], and 24th Destroyer Flotilla, comprizing [HMS] Tenacious, Termagant, Troubridge, Teazer and Terpischore, our objective being the Jap[anese] held island of Truk, once an enemy base in the SW Pacific. It was by-passed in the advance to the Philippine Islands but has been under almost daily aerial bombardment by the US Air forces ever since.

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Firefly aircraft of the British Pacific Fleet had just loosed their Rocket Projectiles to score direct hits on Moen Radio Station, Truk. Image copr. IWM A29463

The operation and our force were designated respectively Inmate and TG 111, Rear Admiral Brind flying his flag in [HMS] Swiftsure. Air exercises were carried out during the two days (T-2 & T-1) spent in reaching the strike area. We arrived there, about 70 miles to the SW of Truk, early on Thurday morning [June 14]. At first light, Implacable flew off a strike of about 20 aircraft – Seafires, Avengers, & Fireflies. Soon after this was completed, we were turned out to a Repel Aircraft Alarm. The Bogey was however identified as an Air/Sea Rescue Catalina patrolling the area. Two hours later, another strike was flown off, and the first landed on. This routine was continued throughout the hours of daylight, a total of 6 waves being sent off. Casualties were one Seafire, lost on operations, and 2 Avengers which fell into the sea on taking off. The crews of the latter were rescued by Destroyers. Two Fireflies and one Avenger were slightly damaged by enemy “flak”. No air opposition was met by our attacking planes, and Airfields, aircraft, Radar installations & gun positions were bombed & straffed with fair success.

At frequent intervals throughout the day, the A/S R [Air/Sea Rescue] craft was cause for for alarm reports, & our fighters were constantly investigating. The crew of the Catalina must have been impressed, & probably a little worried, by the attention paid them.

During daylight hours, a two watch system was in force, but after dark, this was broken down into 1 in 4. Night intruder patrols were sent off by [HMS]Implacc, the last landing on again soon after midnight. One Avenger drove into the sea over the carrier bows. Searchlights were quickly organized, and survivors were rescued by a Destroyer. When we left harbour HMS Ruler carried on board one only Walrus for rescue work. Unfortunately, this aircraft was blown overboard in a strong wind at night, which left the carrier without any useful purpose in life.

 

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.