During the week, Yokohama sightseeing parties were landed daily and today a party was sent by destroyer to Tokyo. The day has been wet and means of transport round the city negligible, so there can be little doubt that Tokyo is not considered a first class liberty city!
HMS Swiftsure, our relief, arrived this forenoon. Tomorrow the flag will be transferred, they will take over our guards ashore, and we hope to leave on Tuesday. [HMS] King George V left for the south on Wednesday and [HMNZS] Gambia has returned from Wakayama. Heavy units of the United States 3rd Fleet have sailed for the west coast of the US, but a large force of US ships is still in the bay. Our USN Liason team has left the ship.
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.
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.
Sight seeing parties from the ships are allowed to visit Yokohama now. Our quota is 75 men at a time, divided into parties of less than 20 with an officer, armed with revolver, in charge of each party. None of the men are allowed to be armed in any way whatsoever.
Most of Yokohama has been razed to the ground. Apart from a few concrete buildings near the centre of the town, there is very little except acres & acres of rubble & scrap iron. The damage would seem to have been caused by firebombs as the roads (concrete) were all in good condition and tram services still running. The civil populace, all of whom looked adequately fed, lives in tin shacks amidst the rubble. Their hospitals were apparently intact and working. Apart from a few busses, running on producer gas, and bicycles, the only traffic on the roads was US Army vehicles. The Yanks are everywhere, & digging themselves well in. The most popular medium of exchange ashore is cigarettes, with American brands more sought after than British.
The repatriation of Prisoners of war is proceeding apace. Most of Honshu has been cleared and destroyers are making trips to outlying camps & depots. Nearly every evening we have turned out to cheer a ship load of repatriates going past. HMNZS Gambia has gone to Wakayama to pick up a batch of men. All on board here wish we could have the chance to do something useful & assist in the good work.
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
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.
Today HMS Ariadne secured alongside, bringing a draft from Sydney. A closer view of this ship only went to confirm earlier impressions of neatness & smartness. Our landing party was returned during the afternoon by HMAS Napier. They have all brought back a lot of souvenirs & appear in good spirits despite the lack of washing facilities & amenities ashore. Though perhaps they are just pleased at getting back!