August 6 (Mon) 1945, at sea, off Japan

Owing to the presence of a typhoon in the proposed strike area, & later the possibilities of interfering with the operations of land based aircraft, the last few days have been devoid of the usual offensive against the enemy mainland. We have on occasion done duty as TBS [Talk Between Ships] link with the neighbouring US Task force, and as such been practically out of sight of all but our fellow links on either side. The usual number of floating mines was sighted and though we opened up at a couple, no positive results were recorded. Today we have refueled again. [HMS] Black Prince & a destroyer are returning to base and it is not anticipated that the rest of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] will remain up here for many more strikes. Tomorrow we store ship, probably commencing in operations on Wednesday.

IWM MH29437 Hiroshima
Hiroshima after Aug 6, 1945. Image copr. IWM MH29437

Extract from August 11: During the past week, US Army planes have dropped two Atom bombs on naval & military bases in Shikoku [actually Hiroshima 6th August, Nagaski 9th August], and over one square mile of built up area is reported completely devastated in both cases. It is now [August 11] stated that the Japanese Government has offered surrender, providing that the Emperor retains his prerogatives. Perhaps this war will soon be over.

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July 31 (Tues) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A30151 inland sea
Attack on Shannoshu shipyard, Inland Sea, Japan, by HMS Victorious aircraft, 28 July 1945. Image copr. IWM A30151

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.

 

July 26 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A29959 Jap carrier
Bombed Japanese escort carrier, Shimane Maru, 24th July 1945, Shido Bay, Inland Sea. Image copr. IWM A29959.

The last two days’ strikes have been very successful. Much shipping, including an escort carrier [Shimane Maru] and 10,000 merchantmen, were severely damaged. Airfields were also attacked by our bombers. United States aircraft concentrated on the remnants of the Japanese fleet at Kure [Naval District]. 10 of our airplanes were lost, but most of the crews have been saved. Enemy planes approached the fleet yesterday evening. Our fighters drove them off, shooting down two. Previously a Japanese reconnaissance plane had been shot down 23000 ft above the fleet.

A 4″ throw off shoot was carried out this forenoon & we met the fleet train (TU112.2).

July 19 (Thurs) 1945, at sea, off Japan

IWM A29964 fighters Japan
Seafire fighters over Japan, 17 July 1945, from HMS Implacable. Image copr. IWM A29964

We are now on our way back to the replenishment area after two days in the strike area. Tuesday commenced with a narrow escape from collision with [HMS] Quadrant. About 0400 the carriers began flying off the first strike. There was cloud about & visibility was poor. Several aircraft came down in the sea during the day & three were lost on operations. According to signals received, targets successfully attacked included airfield (Niigata), shipping & rail transport. During the afternoon [HMS] King George V and two destroyers were dispatched to take part in a night bombardment of Hitachi. On Wednesday, though the weather was getting worse, airstrikes were continued. [HMS] King George V returned early in the morning, apparently no worse for wear. Defence watches were closed up during daylight hours and hands went to “Repel Aircraft” stations several times without anything eventuating.

Memoirs of Lt A Canham

……in time to take part in a series of unbelievably exciting strikes against the Japanese. All sixteen fleet carriers were flying off bombers escorted by fighters. One of our jobs was to pick up bailed out pilots. We also provided a destroyer to serve as a “delousing station.” The Japanese had a nasty habit of hiding kamikazes among returning British and American aircraft. The destroyer would be stationed between the carriers and the Japanese, and all planes would fly over the “delousing station” to be identified before returning to their carriers.