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.

newf 18
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.

 

Advertisements

September 15 (Sat) 1945, Yokohama, Japan [Part 1]

An innovation this week has been the holding of Divisions on the forecastle daily at 0900. Officers of Divisions turn up to this, and the Padre and band are also present for prayers & the singing of a hymn.

On Tuesday [11th] afternoon we shifted to berth F29, considerably nearer to Yokohama. The ships of the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] present and a large number of USN heavy craft are in this Anchorage.

In connection with the ceremony to be held at the British Embassy in Tokyo on Monday, we sent ashore a party to help clean the place up a bit and a squad of Royal Marines has been training in preparation for taking over guard duties there next week. We also have a platoon of Naval ratings guarding HMS Thracian, a British S class destroyer, which was scuttled at Hong Kong in ’41, raised by the Japanese, and found at Yokosuka in a fairly reasonably & repairable condition when the landing forces went ashore.

Memoir of Lt A Canham

newf 14
HMS Newfoundland sailors at Yokosuka Naval Base. Image copr. C Canham

After the fleet entered the harbor, the Newfoundland landing party was sent to Yokosuka Naval Base.  We found it mostly deserted, and with no transportation we commandeered fire engines to drive ourselves around the base.  We found miles of tunnels under the base and we had to inspect them all to be sure they weren’t mined.  There we discovered crates and crates of guns, ammunition, silver plates, and swords.

 

September 2 VJ-Day, 1945, Tokyo Bay, Japan

IWM A30511 Flagship sunset
Ensigns from all the Allied nations flown from HMS Duke of York on VJ-Day ceremonial sunset. Image copr. IWM A30511

This forenoon, Japanese envoys, including their foreign minister, and representatives of the United Nations, including the Supreme Allied Commander, General of the Armies, Douglas McArthur, met together on board USS Missouri, and signed documents for the complete surrender of Japan & its empire. The ship’s company were able to listen to a broadcast of the ceremony after Divisions & church. The day was generally celebrated by all who were in a position to do so. The ceremonial sunset on board the flag-ship [HMS] Duke of York was very colourful & moving.

For the third time in the last 9 months the order was given to “Splice the Mainbrace”. No doubt this was appreciated by the troops. Personally I would much prefer a pint of good cider. Letters posted today will be specially stamped “VJ-Day, Tokyo Bay”, aboard ship.

August 20 (Mon) 1945, at sea, off Japan

newf 7
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:

newf 10
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!”

May 9 (Weds) 1945, Manus, Admiralties/Papua New Guinea

IWM A27859 Sunday Divisions
Prayers after Sunday Divisions on a carrier, Feb 1945. Image copr. IWM A27859.

Sunday Routine with prayers on the QD [Quarterdeck], then pipe down, shore leave being granted to a watch & a half. “Hands to Bathe” was piped during the forenoon & also later on. No sharks were encountered and all swimmers were returned safely.

[HMS] Illustrious, [HMS] Whelp & [HMS] Wager left about dawn this morning, & soon after a convoy of transports & supply vessels began to enter. [HMAS] Arunta went out about 1400. We proceeded to sea at dusk, and after exercising action stations, when opportunity was taken to load the 6″ hoists, settled down to 4 watch routine, course westerly, in company with [HMAS] Arunta. [see map May 8]

May 8 (Tues) 1945, Manus, Admiralties/Papua New Guinea [Part 1]

May 7 1945Slipped 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.

October 1 (Sun) 1944, Greenock, Scotland

Sunday Divisions [when the Captain inspected the crew] as usual but no Church Service owing to temporary lack of chaplain. The ship was supposed to shift berth back to previous position in dock sometime in forenoon, but was postponed till tomorrow. This evening the “Unique Concert Party” gave a performance in the cinema, and at the conclusion of the show, the leading lady was presented with a bouquet by Midshipman Lewis. From what those who went say, those who didn’t go, didn’t miss very much.