May 17 (Thurs) 1945, at sea

Hollandia is a pleasant-looking, fairly large natural harbour. There is plenty of water in most places but boat running has been something of a trial owing to a large no. of inaccurately charted reefs & some not charted at all. At one stage, in fact, all the ship’s boats were unusable, & the Midshipmen concerned have had their leave stopped.

Swimming from the ship has not been permitted but a good time was had by all at Pie Beach, a large stretch of shore-line covered with grey sand. The Officers Club ashore has proved popular & it is to be feared that all the Midshipmen did not distinguish themselves by their good behaviour.

AWM 077873 Hollandia admin
Hollandia, Australian Military & US Navy camps, Dec 1944

Since Hollandia was captured a [few] years ago, it has been a base for the US 7th Fleet & the AIF [Australian Imperial Force]. Now things are fairly quiet again but there are still a large administrative organization and numerous dockyard installations ashore. We had hoped to ammunition ship here but supplies were not available.

About 0900 this morning in bright sunshine, we left the harbour & the Australian Cruiser squadron, bound for Manus. The operations round Wewak have proceeded well & it is not considered that we will be required there again. Soon after leaving harbour we were subjected to dummy air attacks by RAAF [Royal Australian Air Force] planes.

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May 11 (Fri) 1945, Wewak, New Guinea/PNG

May 11 1945 Op DelugeDuring the night, in company with [HMAS] Hobart, [HMAS] Arunta, & [HMAS] Warramunga, steamed due North & later south again so as to be in position to recommence firing at dawn. Landing craft were sighted at 0700 & we began shooting half an hour later. The first two targets were quickly disposed of. During this time, about a battalion of troops were landed. They met with only slight opposition. At 0900, we ceased fire and proceeded just to hang around till required again. Soon after noon, an asdic [Allied Submarine Devices Investigation Committee (WWI); general term for any type of under-water supersonic echo-ranging equipment] contact was made. [HMAS] Arunta dropped depth charges & we took evasive action.

About 1630, at the request of the Military, we carried out another attack on a gun position near the airstrip. This was satisfactorily dealt with in a quarter of an hour.

May 10 (Thurs) 1945, Wewak, New Guinea/PNG

Today we took our first offensive action against the enemy.

This morning, just before 0800, we met up with His Majesty’s Australian Ships Hobart and Warramunga, off Wewark [Wewak], NG [New Guinea]. Sealed orders were passed to us by line from the two destroyers.

At standeasy, the Captain addressed the ship’s company, saying that we would bombard enemy gun positions and installations this afternoon in preparation for a landing by Australian 6th Division Troops tomorrow morning. We would also be supporting the landing. [Operation Deluge]

AWM 096419 Cape Moem
Area of attack: Cape Moem and coast, Sep 1945.

So we stooged up & down until 1300 when a preliminary run was carried out. It was 1400 before we actually started shooting. Targets were gun positions & suspected gun posns. The spotting aircraft was an RAAF Boomerang which we shared with [HMAS] Hobart. The Destroyers and Sloop [HMAS] Swan also took part, going close inshore and pasting the beaches. There was no opposing fire from the enemy garrison. At 1530 we secured from Action Stations and dropped back into normal routine.

[Additional extracts from the memoirs of Lt A C]

The Newfoundland was practically a brand new cruiser of about 10,000 tons, six-inch guns, a high turn of speed, good antiaircraft defenses, and very well-suited for her job which was to join with the US fleet in the Pacific.  The Pacific Fleet consisted of four carrier task groups each with four carriers, several battleships, a lot of cruisers, and many, many, destroyers.  One of the four carrier groups was British, with four large fleet carriers with steel decks, which would be very useful when the kamikaze attacks began.

Eventually we joined up with the US fleet.  We were a newish ship with a new crew and a new stern, and we needed some gunnery practice.  We were sent to bombard one Japanese island [NG?] as a workup exercise. The US Navy had wiped out all the Japanese aircraft so we didn’t have to worry about air attacks, and were able to fire on the island while staying out of range of shore artillery.