We 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.
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.
This morning soon after dawn, US Fleet units were sighted to the north west. These included battleships of the Iowa class. Later on US Helldivers did their stuff over the BPF [British Pacific Fleet] for recognition purposes. We hope to get a preview of some Bearcats & Seahawks in the not-too-distant future. Tomorrow at dawn we commence operations against the enemy.
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.
At dawn this morning the fleet began leaving harbour, bound for a rendezvous with the US 3rd Fleet off Japan. Our carrier planes will take part in air strikes against the enemy mainland, and we do not expect to see harbour again for six weeks. The fleet at present totals 25 ships – [HMS] KGV [King George V] (Vice Admiral Rawlings), Formidable, Implacable, Victorious, 6 of the 4th CS and the rest destroyers, including [HMS] Barfleur, one of the new battle class.
4″ and close range shoots were carried out with moderate success. Our course is North East.