Union Jack rh  FRANK  S. TAYLOR  FAMILY AND ROYAL NAVY HISTORY.NET  UK Naval Ensign White L

 

 

 

 

H.M.S. King George V

 

Royal Navy Battleship

 

Reproduction courtesy of Naval-History.Net

 

 

Excerpt from

 

http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-01BB-HMS_King_George_V.htm

 

 

 1 January - 17 September 1945

 

 

Photo courtesy Maritime Quest

 

 

1 9 4 5

 

January

 

 

1st  

H.M.S. KING GEORGE V became a unit of the British Pacific Fleet.

 

The formation of the British Pacific Fleet was resultant of the second Quebec Conference, held in September 1944 and code-named

OCTAGON. Two months after OCTAGON, US agreement in principle was reached that a British carrier task force would fight in the

Pacific despite continued opposition from Churchill and the USN Chief of Operations, Admiral Ernest J King. The man chosen to be CinC

of the BPF was Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser GCB KBE. He was responsible to the Admiralty in London for the general direction the forces

under his command; to the Australian Government for the dockyards, air stations, depots and barracks that formed his main base and to the

individual Navy Boards of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa for the men and ships they provided him. Operationally he

took his orders from Admiral Chester Nimitz the Allied Commander-in-Chief Pacific Ocean Areas. But because of his own seniority, he

delegated sea command to Vice Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings his second-in-command. The Admiralty intended the BPF to reach its full

strength in October 1945 in time for Operation OLYMPIC, the planned invasion of Japan.

 

Before his fleet was ready to move into the Pacific, Admiral Fraser called on Admiral Nimitz at Pearl Harbour with key members of his

staff. Admiral Nimitz asked for the BPF to strike at the important oil refineries in the Palembang complex in Sumatra as the fleet deployed

from Ceylon to Australia. He had several reasons for doing so. Between them, the Sumatran refineries provided Japan with about 75% of

the aviation fuel it needed and any reduction would have strategic significance. USAAF B-29 bombers had attacked the plants recently

using high-level bombing techniques and had failed to score hits; tactical aircraft from carriers were expected to be more accurate. It must

also be said that Nimitz wanted a demonstration of the RN capability to carry out sustained strikes at long range so that he could judge the

value of the BPF to his command. Fraser accepted immediately and 1st Aircraft Squadron (1 ACS) relished the chance to show what it

could achieve. Models of the refineries were made in the carriers which helped operations staff brief aircrew on individual, specific targets

and an 'air co-ordinator', Major Hay RM from the VICTORIOUS, was used for the first time in line with USN procedures)

 

2nd - 15th  

At Trincomalee.

 

16th  

1430 hours. KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral Sir Henry Bernard Rawlings 2iC British Pacific Fleet) the aircraft carriers INDOMITABLE (Flag Rear Admiral Sir Philip Louis Vian Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, British Pacific Fleet), INDEFATIGABLE, VICTORIOUS and ILLUSTRIOUS, light cruisers BLACK PRINCE, ARGONAUT and  EURYALUS and destroyers GRENVILLE (D25), UNDAUNTED, UNDINE, URSA , KEMPENFELT (D27), WAGER, WAKEFUL, WHELP and WHIRLWIND sailed from Trincomalee as TF 63, to carry out Operation MERIDIAN 1.

1700 hours. Light cruiser CEYLON, having collected mail for the ships of TF 63, sailed from Trincomalee to join TF 63. 

 

Operation MERIDIAN 1 was an air strike carried out of the aircraft of TF 63 on oil refineries at Pladjoe, Palembang on the Island of

Sumatra. The targets in the Palembang area were at Songei Gerong, which had been the East Indies oil refinery for the Standard Oil

Company. The other was at Pladjoe, the former Royal Dutch Shell refinery. Both were quite large and between them produced and supplied

50% of the oil used by Japan, including 75% of the vital aviation fuel. The targets were situated about 50 miles inland up a network of rivers  

and creeks and surrounded by jungle and swamp on the south east of the island.

 

American long-range reconnaissance aircraft had reported that there was a strong anti-aircraft gun defence and the presence of fighter

aircraft based at the airfields of Lembak, Palembang, Talangbetoetoe and Mana; also from a fighter training base nearby. Unfortunately no

reports had been made of a defensive balloon barrage around the refineries. The objective was to put refineries at Palembang out of action.

 

17th & 18th  

During their passage south easterly TF 63 carried out intensive exercises.

 

19th  

The exercises continued.

1930 hours. Destroyer WESSEX, who had been delayed at Trincomalee waiting parts for her faulty radar, joined TF 63.

 

20th  

0700 hours. On arrival at the refueling RV, in approximate position 5S, 97-30E, the refueling force TF 69 was not in sight.

0822 hours. TF 69 was located by aircraft and refueling commenced at 0900 hours. The weather conditions at the time were not good, there being frequent rain squalls, with a moderate southerly swell and wind force 3-5, the oilers reported much gear damaged by destroyers.

1850 hours. KING GEORGE V, the cruisers and destroyers had all been refueled.

This was the first under way refuelling by KING GEORGE V and she took 10 hours to complete.

 

At 1530 hours 13/1/45, TF 69, consisting of destroyer URCHIN (Senior Officer) and the RFA oilers ECHODALE, WAVE KING and EMPIRE SALVAGE had sailed from Trincomalee and proceeded to the first oiling rendezvous.

 

1900 hours. Cruiser CEYLON detached from TF 63 and joined TF 69. TF 63 then set course for the flying off position.

During the passage Vice Admiral Rawlings became ill and was confined to his bed so operational control of TF 63 was exercised by Rear Admiral Vian.

 

21st - 22nd  

During the night, Force 63 approached the flying off position, but owing to bad weather and unfavourable weather forecasts, it was decided to turn back to the westward. 

 

22nd - 23rd  

During the night, Force 63 approached the flying off position, and again, owing to bad weather and unfavourable weather forecasts, it was decided to turn back to the westward. 

 

The weather problem was caused by an inter-tropical front (now known as an Intertropical Convergence Zone) which lay against the Sumatran coast until the 23rd January. Whilst it provided a convenient screen in which to operate, it detracted on the whole from success because spray and the torrential rains affected the serviceability of the large number of aircraft necessarily parked on deck.

 

24th  

0400 hours. TF 63 arrived at the approximate position 5-41S, 103-32E, between the Island of Pulau Enggano and the coast of Sumatra, coded as 'Position TA'; and approximately 200 miles from the target, Pladjoe refinery.

0615 hours. The first aircraft began taking off and during the next 45 minutes the strike force of 52 Avengers each armed with 4 x 500 lb bombs, 12 Fireflies armed with 60lb rockets, 56 Corsairs and 20 Hellcats were assembled.

0704 hours. Nine minutes late, the strike force headed for the objective, Pladjoe refinery.

0850 hours. The attack commenced, after dropping their bombs the Avengers headed for the RV 30 miles away.

0940 hours. The strike started to land on. This was completed by 1025 hours.

Six Corsairs, one Hellcat and two Avengers failed to return.

1030 hours. TF 63 commenced retiring to the south-west at 22 knots towards the refuelling area.

 

25th  

En route to the refuelling area KING GEORGE V topped up destroyer URSA with oil following which URSA was detached in the evening to proceed to the Cocos Island with signals for despatch.

On arrival at the refueling area TF 63 commenced refuelling in two groups. ILLUSTRIOUS and VICTORIOUS also topped up with aviation spirit. Oiling was slow owing to buoyant hoses parting at the joints.

 

The refuelling force TF 69 now included the RFA oiler ARNDALE who had sailed from Freemantle on 15/1/45.

 

26th  

TF 63 continued refuelling. At this stage it had become clear that the fuel situation would allow no more than one further strike at Palembang.

Destroyer URSA rejoined.

 

27th  

TF 63 continued refuelling.

 

28th

TF 63 continued refuelling.

On completion of refuelling TF 63 headed back to flying off position TA.

 

29th

0600 hours. TF 63 arrived In position TA, the weather was poor with heavy rainstorms in a belt 30 miles off the coast. So H Hour was postponed from 0615 until 0640. By which time the carriers were in a clear patch between two rainstorms, but others soon arrived.

0640 hours. The first aircraft began taking off and during the next 54 minutes the strike force of 48 Avengers each armed with 4 x 500 lb bombs, 12 Fireflies armed with 60lb rockets, 48 Corsairs and 16 Hellcats were assembled.

0734 hours. The strike force, four minutes late, headed for the objective, Songei Gerong refinery.

0850 hours. The attack commenced; after dropping their bombs the Avengers headed for the RV.

0900 hours. TF 63 gained a radar indication of an enemy aircraft in the vicinity of the fleet.

0917 hours. The bogey was sighted by Seafires of the CAP; it was a fast single-engine aircraft which escaped by diving into clouds.

0939 hours. A few enemy aircraft approached TF 63 from the north. They probably did not sight the fleet, which was then under low cloud. Seafires were sent to intercept and shot down one Dinah [Mitsubishi Ki-46] 28 miles west of the fleet

1010 hours. The strike started to land on. This was completed by 1100 hours.

Seven aircraft failed to return.

1026 hours. A group of twelve plus enemy aircraft were reported approaching from the north. Corsairs and Seafires of the fighter patrols were vectored out. The Corsairs reported sighting two single engined enemy aircraft carrying bombs which were chased far to the eastward. One Corsair from VICTORIOUS failed to return.

1028 hours. A few enemy planes were detected passing the fleet on a southerly track some 40 miles to seaward. No fighters were sent to intercept as the enemy seemed to have no knowledge of the fleet's position.

1100 hours. The last of the strike force was landed on. TF 63 then commenced its withdrawal north westward towards the refuelling area.

 

The two strikes on the oil refineries severely disrupted production. According to post war analysis the strikes crippled production and reduced the Japanese fuel reserves.

 

1152 hours. A raid was detected approaching low from the southward and seven Seafires of the low patrol were sent to intercept. This Seafire patrol was flying wide of the fleet to the northward when given their first vector. They intercepted the raid as it was sighted from the fleet. The enemy formation, which was originally reported by radar as 'one large', consisted of one Helen [Nakajima Ki-49] and six Sallies [Mitsubishi Ki-21]. The enemy formation attacked from the port quarter of the fleet upwind, height about 50 feet. They broke up when the Seafires intercepted and appeared to try to carry out low-level bombing attacks on ILLUSTRIOUS and INDEFATIGABLE.

 

From the form of the attack when it first developed it was thought that the enemy aircraft were carrying torpedoes and the fleet was accordingly maneuvered so as to present a difficult torpedo target. Most of the attackers succeeded in reaching the main body and were shot down close to the ships. Of the seven aircraft which attacked, certainly six and probably all seven were destroyed. Gunfire from the fleet accounted for one aircraft. But the standard of fire discipline and fire control in the fleet was low.

 

1203 hours. During the air attack the ILLUSTRIOUS was struck by two 5.25in shells fired by our own forces and suffered 12 fatal casualties and 21 wounded (see following).

 

The attacking Japanese aircraft were described as above in the official British report. However some reports state that the attacking aircraft were seven Kawasaki Ki-48, ‘Lilies’, of the Japanese Army's Shichisi Mitate Tokubetsu Kōgeki Tai.

 

A Walrus amphibian, with recovered aircrew, had just landed on ILLUSTRIOUS, when two Sallies attacked the ILLUSTRIOUS. One dropped a bomb astern of the ILLUSTRIOUS that failed to explode and they then flew down the length of the deck. The cruiser EURYALUS was shooting at the attacking aircraft and failed to check her fire as the enemy flew over the ILLUSTRIOUS. Two of EURYALUS's 5.25in shells struck the ILLUSTRIOUS hitting the superstructure and destroying the Walrus and killing some of the rescued aircrew.

 

From 1212 to 1430 hours the fleet was shadowed by an aircraft which remained 45 to 60 miles to the eastward. It is possible that this aircraft may have been keeping track of us by receiving either our radar or our beacon transmissions.

1818 hours. A quarter of an hour before sunset, a single enemy aircraft approached from the north-eastward at 15,000 feet. The enemy aircraft remained in the vicinity until about 1910 hours, during which time TF 63 was steering a course towards Ceylon.

As soon as night fell course was altered to the westward at 23 knots to arrive at the refuelling area on 30th

 

30th

1315 hours. TF 63 commenced re-fueling from TF 69, all ships with the exception of VICTORIOUS and ILLUSTRIOUS either filling up or topping up for the passage to Fremantle.

After refuelling destroyer, URSA was detached to take messages to the Cocos Island for transmission and then to proceed independently to Fremantle.

2200 hours. Refuelling was completed and TF 63 set course for Fremantle.

 

 

 

February

 

1st - 3rd

TF 63 on passage to Fremantle

 

4th

0600 hours. TF 63 arrived at Fremantle.

 

When the fleet arrived in Fremantle the public welcome stunned the arriving crews. Every vantage point was packed with people, all cheering and waving.

 

At Fremantle a Board of Inquiry was convened on board ILLUSTRIOUS to investigate the circumstances attending the unfortunate incident which occurred when the Fleet was attacked by Japanese bombers off Western Sumatra and ILLUSTRIOUS sustained damage and casualties from 'friendly' gunfire.

 

On the Orders of the CinC, British Pacific Fleet, the Fleet was split into two groups, ABLE and BAKER, before leaving Fremantle. Group ABLE comprising INDOMITABLE, ILLUSTRIOUS, INDEFATIGABLE, ARGONAUT, BLACK PRINCE, GRENVILLE, UNDINE, UNDAUNTED, WAGER and WESSEX. Group ABLE sailed late on the 4/2/45 for Sydney.

 

5th

Group BAKER comprising KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral Sir Henry Bernard Rawlings 2iC British Pacific Fleet), VICTORIOUS, EURYALUS, KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND, WHELP, WAKEFUL and URSA sailed for Sydney.

 

6th - 10th

On passage to Sydney the Fleet carried out an intensive program of exercises. These included:

 

Fleet maneuvers with ships conning from emergency positions.

 

GUNNERY :

(i)    14 inch throw short firing by KING GEORGE V.

(ii)   AA throw off firings by KING GEORGE V, VICTORIOUS, and EURYALUS

(iii)  Dive bombing exercise

(iv)  Fire direction exercise

(v)   Range and inclination exercise.

 

COMMUNICATIONS :

No difficulties were experienced in the use of American Signal publications and procedure, except in the case of the United States Radar reporting and fighter direction methods, which must be practiced further to become efficient. Maneuvers were carried out daily by V/S, W/T and R/T.

 

11th

Group BAKER arrived at Sydney

 

As the fleet steamed into Sydney Harbour, thousands of people were gathered at various points waving and cheering the return of the Royal Navy and, according to one historian, 'the city went mad'. In port, members of the fleet received an extremely warm welcome. 'The hospitality of the Australian families, with their own sons still overseas or POWs and with a far higher percentage of their population in the forces than ourselves, had to be seen to be believed’.

 

1130 hoursAdmiral Sir Bruce Fraser the CinC, British Pacific Fleet, Admiral Sir Guy Royle the First Naval Member of the Commonwealth Naval Board and Rear Admiral G.D. Moore, Flag Officer in Charge, Sydney; arrived on board KING GEORGE V where the Flag Officers met the Commanding  Officers of the ships of the British Pacific Fleet.

 

The British Pacific Fleet had established a Barracks, Accounting Base and Manning Depot in the docklands area at Woolloomooloo at the head of Woolloomooloo Bay. It was commissioned on 20/11/44 as HMS GOLDEN HIND

 

Most Royal Navy ships were designed to operate in climates that had brief and temperate summers. Therefore they did not have air-conditioning, or evaporation plant that could produce sufficient fresh water for the boilers and the crew when operating in the tropics.

The result was that in the tropical areas of the Pacific the heat below decks became unbearable; 127¼ F (53¼C) was recorded in one instance. This made physical labour exhausting and it was difficult to avoid becoming drowsy while doing paperwork. Crews took lots of showers and drank as much water as possible, quickly overwhelming the evaporators and forcing water rationing.

 

There was also a lack of standardisation in Royal Navy equipment. This was particularly so with the aircraft which constituted the British Pacific Fleet's main offensive weapon. Admiral Fraser informed the Admiralty that, 'The Royal Navy had too many different types of aircraft, which made logistics difficult, and recommended standardisation of the machines and designing a plane specifically for carrier warfare'. The Royal Navy was using the Seafire, which was a modified Spitfire. Although a good plane in the air, the Seafire had problems withstanding the stress of the sudden stops of carrier landings. Many of the planes in the fleet were of US design, which the RN had then modified, and this made it impossible to obtain some spare parts from the Americans. The RN was also using bombs that would not fit aboard their aircraft carriers and had to be stored on other ships. This process added to the time and energy required for resupply at sea.

 

The RN therefore had a number of design, equipment and logistical problems to overcome for Pacific operations. Most of which they muddled through rather than resolved. Keeping the fleet equipped with fuel, food, water and ammunition was an ever present concern for Fraser, his staff, subordinate commanders and the Admiralty.

 

Without the generous help of USN bases, fuelling facilities and spare parts, the British Pacific Fleet would have been hard put to keep going. Eventually even Admiral King backed away from the requirement of self-sufficiency. In a letter to Admiral Fraser from Washington, Admiral Somerville recounted that 'recently King has admitted that pooling of resources to some extent must obviously be necessary if we are to keep the maximum number of ships, both US and British, ready for operations’.

 

12th - 26th

The Fleet remained at Sydney where the ships made good minor defects which had developed during nearly four weeks at sea, and the ships' companies were given 48 hours local leave. 

 

Whilst at Sydney, the British Pacific Fleet was allocated Task Force Numbers so as to conform to American procedure. Battleships, carriers, cruisers, and destroyers were designated Task Force 113 and the Fleet Train was designated Task Force 112. Task Force 113 remained as such until it was allocated to the Commander 4th Fleet when it became Task Force 57

 

27th

At Sydney.

 

In the afternoon the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, comprising aircraft carriers INDOMITABLE (Flag of AC1 Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian), VICTORIOUS and INDEFATIGABLE screened by destroyers HMAS QUICKMATCH (D4), HMAS QUIBERON, HMS QUEENBOROUGH and HMS QUALITY sailed from Sydney and headed east.

 

28th

0830 hours. Battleships KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral Sir Henry Bernard Rawlings 1st Battle Squadron and 2iC British Pacific Fleet) and  HOWE, maintenance carrier UNICORN, light cruisers SWIFTSURE (Flag Rear Admiral E.J.P. Brind CS 4), ARGONAUT, BLACK PRINCE, EURYALUS (Flag Rear Admiral J.H. Edelsten , Rear Admiral (D) temporarily) and HMNZS GAMBIA, destroyers GRENVILLE (D25), ULSTER, UNDINE, URSA, and URANIA, KEMPENFELT (D27), WAGER, WAKEFUL, WHIRLWIND, WHELP and WESSEX sailed from Sydney as TF 113, into the teeth of an easterly gale.

1200 hours. The 1st Battle Squadron was in position 33-49S, 151-54E.

During the afternoon the 1st Battle Squadron RVed with the 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron. TF 113 then set course northerly.

 

The Fleet was due to be shadowed and attacked by RAAF aircraft. A few blue aircraft were tracked, but no attack developed. Weather prevented our carriers from flying off fighter opposition. Altogether this was a disappointing exercise which provided little value.

 

After dark, SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA carried out shadowing exercise with the Fleet.

 

 

March

 

1st

TF 113 continued on a northerly course. The weather was still rough.

In the morning TF 113 Carried out Visual Radar Control Air Defence Exercise. 

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 29-18S, 155-04E.

In the afternoon TF 113 exercised tactical maneuvering.

EURYALUS and all destroyers carried out Radar Interrogation Exercises (INTX)

TF 113 carried out Range and Inclination exercises on EURYALUS.

After dark the 4th Cruiser Squadron carried out a Night Encounter Exercise.

 

2nd

Early in the morning destroyer URANIA was detached and returned to Sydney.

1000 hours. The refuelling force of four tankers escorted by minesweeper HMAS WHYALLA (known as a corvette in the RAN) was located.

For refuelling TF 113 divided into two groups, the Main Body requiring no fuel, and the fuelling force of all cruisers and destroyers.

 

The refuelling force was placed under the Command of Rear Admiral Commanding CS4. Screens for both forces were relieved as necessary, and fuelling was completed by 1700 hours by which time all destroyers and 5.25 in. cruisers had been topped right up and

6 in. cruisers had fuelled for exercise. The detailed fuelling program made by CS 4 seemed to be expeditiously and smoothly carried out. Unnecessary high steaming by fuelled ships from the Fuelling Force joining the screen of the non fuelling Force would be saved if they were ordered to proceed to the nearest position in the screen, other screening vessels adjusting position as if rotating.

 

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 25-50S, 155-39E.

 

After dark 4th Destroyer Flotilla exercised flotilla night attacks on the Fleet in cruising disposition 5A. From this, and similar attacks on subsequent nights, the weakness of a circular screen to prevent a determined or suicide minded enemy flotilla fighting their way into decisive torpedo range of the Main Body was shown. 

 

3rd

In the morning TF 113 Carried out aircraft Direction and Radar Reporting Exercise No 1. Attacking planes flew 90 miles ahead of the Fleet before commencing their approach. EURYALUS and ARGONAUT were stationed 15 miles 30 degrees on either bow of the Fleet as Radar Pickets.  Full fighter protection was flown off by the carriers. Some very interesting Torpedo Bomber and Dive Bomber raids developed, and the Fleet was maneuvered evasively and as necessary for flying off standby fighters to meet raids as they developed. On such occasions unnecessary and unrealistic confusion was caused to radar plots by aircraft which hovered over the Fleet after completing their attacks; they should have formed up and remained well clear, but in sight of the Fleet.

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 21-25S, 156-40E.

In the afternoon the carriers exercised A.A. throw off firings. SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA carried out independent exercises. The 1st Battle Squadron exercised H.A. Drills with single aircraft and then with EURYALUS, SWIFTSURE, and BLACK PRINCE, exercised emergency conning and communications. It was found that when in a single line ahead ships had to haul out of line for their secondary control position personnel to read the Flagship's Signals.

After dark the 27th Destroyer Flotilla carried out divisional night attacks on the Fleet representing a damaged force returning to base. One cruiser with destroyers in any threatened sector moved out to counter attack, and the exercise finished in true Saturday night style with a blaze of starshell searchlight and smoke.

The 27th Destroyer Flotilla continued to shadow during the night.

 

4th

TF 113 continued on a northerly course.

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 15S, 156-32E. UNICORN escorted by two destroyers detached

 

5th

TF 113 continued on a northerly course.

In the morning QUICKMATCH was detached to investigate radar surface contacts to eastward. The contacts were identified as the troop transport USAT SEABARB 7909grt and Australian coastal transport ALAGNE. No warnings of these ships had been received.

 

The SEABARB was en route to Cairns, Queensland where she was to embark the advanced party of the 2/9 Australian armoured Regiment and transport them to Morotai Island in preparation for the invasion of Borneo. Morotai Island had only been secured on 14/1/45.

 

FAA planes Exercised Dummy Suicide attacks on the Fleet. Enemy aircraft occasionally strafing with bursts short, attacked every ship in the Fleet in a most realistic manner for two hours, and providing very useful training. Carried out Height Find Exercise.

Several groups of apparently large aircraft flying from East to West detected ahead of the Fleet and displaying I.F.F. Total number of aircraft estimated at 50.  They were eventually identified as friendly transports by carrier aircraft.

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 08- 29S, 153-27E.

In the afternoon HOWE carried out 14in Long Range Throw Shoot Firing on KING GEORGE V.

A.A. Throw-off Firings by all ships of the Fleet.

More aircraft detached ahead, flying from west to east and not displaying I.F.F. No warning had been received of these or the forenoon aircraft.

After dark TF 113 altered course 30 minutes, to avoid a Radar Contact. The KEMPENFELT detached to investigate the contact, which was identified as the eastbound troop transport USS STRATFORD 2286grt. No warning of this ship had been received.

 

6th

TF 113 continued on a northerly course.

In the morning UNICORN and her two destroyer escorts rejoined TF 113 following which TF 113 carried out Visual and Radar controlled fighter direction exercise for the battleships, cruisers, and aircraft carriers; 9 detected, with Fireflies representing hostile snoopers, and with 24 fighters acting as a CAP and 2 Avengers as friendly A/S patrol.

1200 hours. TF 113 was in position 06-42S, 148-32E.

1315 hours. TF 113 formed into groups disposed astern for passage into the Bismarck Sea.

In the afternoon SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA carried out 6 in. throw off firings. Groups exercised emergency conning and communication.

The airborne A/S patrol and CAP was maintained at readiness to deal with possible snoopers from the enemy base at Rabaul.

KING GEORGE V, HOWE, EURYALUS and 4th D.F. carried out Radar Interrogation exercise.

As night fell it had been hoped to operate night fighters from INDOMITABLE, but weather conditions were not suitable.

 

7th

1000 hours. TF 113 were off the north east coast off the Island of Manus, in approximate position 1-53S, 147-30E.

1000 hours. UNICORN and a destroyer screen detached for Ponam Island.

 

The UNICORN was carrying MSR 4 [MAINTENANCE, SUPPORT & REPAIR 4] they were an advanced party of MONAB IV. MSR 4 were to take over the airbase on Ponam Island that had been built by the Americans and completed in August 1944 and had been used by USN aircraft up to its handover to the Royal Navy. On 2/4/45 the airbase was commissioned as HMS NABARON, Royal Naval Air Station PONAM. The stores and equipment of MONAB 4 arrived on the 11/3/45 on board SS Clan MacAULLY 10492grt. The advanced party of MONAB 1V and the second echelon of MSR 4 arrived on 13/4/45 on board escort carrier SPEAKER. The main body of MONAB IV arrived on the 25/4/45 on board SS EMPIRE ARQUEBUS 6440grt, direct from the UK.

 

(EMPIRE ARQUEBUS was a standard US C1 cargo ship, ex USS CAPE ST VINCENT, but was now a commissioned RN LSI(L) HMS CICERO, although she does not appear to have operated in her latter guise.)

 

Following the departure of UNICORN, TF 113 commenced an Air Defence Exercise with 6 shore based Corsairs as Blue aircraft simulating torpedo, dive, suicide, and level bombers. TF 113 operated a CAP of eight Hellcats and eight Seafires.

After the exercise, TF 113 divided into groups and entered Seeadler Harbour, Manus between 1300 and 1600 hours.

Battleships and aircraft carriers anchored on the western side of the harbour.

 

(Seeadler Harbour is at the eastern end of Manus and a superb natural anchorage, 15 miles long by 4 miles wide and 120ft deep)

 

8th - 11th

TF 113 was anchored in Seeadler Harbour.

 

During this period the fuelling of the Fleet was carried out, with destroyers and cruisers proceeding alongside the oilers at their berths in the Eastern Anchorage, it being intended that capital ships and carriers should be fuelled at their own berths in the Western Anchorage.

It was soon found that the swell was too heavy for fuelling the carriers in these berths, VICTORIOUS, the first to fuel, smashing both her own catamarans; a tug had then to be provided to tow the oiler clear of her.

 

In view of the above, a signal was made to the Senior British Naval Officer asking for berths to be allocated in the Eastern anchorage to complete the fuelling of the carriers. This was arranged accordingly and U.S. Navy steel catamarans were provided by the Commander Naval Base Manus for the VICTORIOUS. Fuelling was successfully completed but not before the INDOMITABLE had smashed one of her catamarans in the process.

 

The catamarans carried by our carriers are for use in calm water and are in no way suitable for the open anchorages of the Pacific.  The U.S. Navy has developed steel 'fenders' from the pontoon structures used widely by them for lighters and sea bridges. We shall be dependent on the U.S. Navy for the loan of theirs until we can get our own. They cannot be carried in a ship and once erected would have to be towed from place to place as required.

 

Even in the Eastern anchorage the swell caused damage when ammunition ships, oilers, etc were alongside the cruisers and it is apparent that in an exposed anchorage such as Manus a large supply of hard fenders is most necessary. Some coconut trees were obtained locally and all ships were instructed to make additional fenders.

 

It was later arranged that on all future occasions of fuelling our carriers, U.S. Navy steel catamarans should be provided, and that the carriers should be allocated the best available berths in the Eastern Anchorage.

 

12th

TF 113 commenced a series of exercises; however these did not involve KING GEORGE V or HOWE.

 

13th

Aircraft carrier ILLUSTRIOUS and destroyers URANIA and UNDAUNTED arrived from Sydney and proceeded to fuel in the Eastern Anchorage.

 

14th

Exercises continued.

 

15th

The 1st Battle Squadron proceeded to sea for exercises, but the receipt of messages from the CinC British Pacific Fleet, DTG 141205Z and DTG 141208Z instructing TF 113 and TF 112 to report to CINC PAC forthwith for duty in operations connected with Operation ICEBERG, changed the situation. All exercises were immediately cancelled and HOWE was ordered back to harbour whilst KING GEORGE V proceeded to get in V/S touch with AC 1 to arrange for re-embarkation of aircraft and air personnel.

Arrangements were made to top up the fleet with fuel, ammunition, and stores as quickly as possible and it was decided the Fleet could be ready to sail at noon on the 17th March. CinC PAC was informed accordingly in CTF 113's signal DTG 150611Z.

 

The final US decision to accept the BPF for operations alongside the US Fifth Fleet was not taken until 15/3/45. Despite late opposition from Admiral King, Admiral Nimitz insisted that the BPF form part of his Central Pacific Command. Admiral Nimitz's decision was justified within days when on 19/3/45 the US aircraft carriers INTREPID, WASP II, and FRANKLIN were all damaged and put out of action, reducing the number of carriers available for Operation ICEBERG, the Okinawa landings.

 

The staff's of the BPF Flag Officers were now tasked with planning and implementing the necessary operations to ensure the Fleets timely departure, these were:

 

(a)      Fuelling, embarkation of aircraft, stores, etc. The time table for these was in some measure the sport of the swell and the lack of   

        boats.

(b)   Final preparation of operation orders and arrangements for fuelling in the forward area for a period of up to three weeks continuous

        operations.

(c)   The speed (9 knots) at which the tankers of the Fleet Train could be moved to the first re-fuelling area.

(d)   Adjustment of aircraft between the maintenance/escort carriers UNICORN, SPEAKER and SLINGER so that the Fleet might      

        leave as fully equipped as could be contrived)

 

Many American naval officers did their best to ignore Admiral King's requirement on supply matters. In fact, a good number of admirals in the Pacific had problems with this stipulation. The requirement had to be heeded, though, at least on paper. The Americans were more than willing to provide the British with any surplus items they had available. Commanders and supply officers, however, had to turn down requests that had to go through Washington, at least officially. The doctrine of self-sufficiency was always the rationale for this response.

 

16th

Preparations continued.

 

17th

Preparations continued.

 

The Fleet Train oiling force, designated TU 112.2.1, comprising oilers RFA CEDARDALE 8132grt, 12.5 knots, MV SAN AMBROSIO 7410grt, 12 knots and MV SAN ADOLPHO 7365grt, 12 knots, escorted by escort carrier STRIKER with replacement aircraft embarked, escorted by  destroyer WHIRLWIND, sloop CRANE and frigate FINDHORN sailed from Seeadler Harbour. This was in order to be in position at the appointed time for the BPF to top with fuel, as near to what was to be their operational area as possible.

The Fleet Train force designated TU 112.2. 2 comprising escort carrier SPEAKER, with Hellcats of 1840 Sqdn. embarked, to provide a CAP for the Fleet Train, escorted by destroyer KEMPENFELT and sloop PHEASANT sailed at the same time.

 

18th

0630 hours. The 1st Battle Squadron, comprising, KING GEORGE V, HOWE, SWIFTSURE, ARGONAUT, HMNZS GAMBIA screened by destroyers GRENVILLE, ULSTER, UNDINE, URANIA and UNDAUNTED sailed from Seeadler Harbour and set course north easterly for Ulithi Atoll.

 

The aircraft carriers were delayed to complete the embarkation and adjustment of aircraft which had been hampered by adverse weather conditions. They sailed at 1100/18/3/45 with a screen of six destroyers and completed the passage to Ulithi Atoll as a separate force.

Cruiser BLACK PRINCE remained at Manus to complete the fitting of American SG Radar.

 

SG Radar was a centimetric radar, the USN equivalent of the RN Type 271. However the SG had become the holy grail for navigating officers for new and un­expected reasons. The charts of the Pacific islands were dangerously inaccurate, but close approaches to shore were now the rule not the exception, which made the map-like PPI display of SG a comforting sight for a captain closing an unknown and poorly charted coast.

 

The EURYALUS was delayed by a foul cable and jammed cable holder, but rejoined the Fleet shortly. The URSA also remained behind to dock for hull repairs.

 

0815 hours. The battleships and cruisers carried out AA sleeve firings. Four sleeves were shot down. Seven U.S.N. aircraft took part in this and the practices went off in an unusually prompt and efficient manner.

1720 hours. EURYALUS dropped depth charges for practice.

1800 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out Type 253 Radar Interrogation tests of ships in company.

2130 hours. Radar contact was obtained with TU 112.2.1 and TU 112.2.5.

 

19th

The 1st Battle Squadron continued on course for Ulithi Atoll.

0830 hours. KING GEORGE V and ARGONAUT carried out Range and Inclination Exercises.

1100 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out a 5.25in long range throw off firing at ARGONAUT.

SWIFTSURE carried out a damage control exercise.

1200 hours. EURYALUS carried out a VT fuse test shoot, throwing off at the ARGONAUT. Owing to a number of early bursts, EURYALUS had to be ordered to cease fire and move further from the screen before resuming.

1400 hours. HOWE carried out a 5.25in long range throw off firing at the SWIFTSURE.

1600 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out a blind main armament control long range throw shoot firing at the SWIFTSURE.

1730 hours. KING GEORGE V and HOWE carried out VT fuse test shoots.

 

20th

The 1st Battle Squadron continued on course for Ulithi Atoll.

0730 hours. The cruisers were ordered to proceed 4 miles ahead for entering harbour.

0915 hours. The cruisers entered Ulithi harbour

0930 hours. The battleships and destroyers entered Ulithi harbour.

1300 hours. The aircraft carriers, screened by destroyers QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUIBERON, QUEENBOROUGH, WHELP and WAGER arrived at Ulithi.

1800 hours. Refuelling of the Fleet commenced.

 

Ulithi atoll is at the western end of the Caroline Islands, 360 miles southwest of Guam, 850 miles east of the Philippines and 1300 miles south of Tokyo. It is a typical volcanic atoll, with a coral reef, white sand beaches and palm trees. Ulithi Atoll consists of forty small islands that barely rise above sea level, the largest being only half a square mile in area. However the reef runs roughly twenty miles north and south by ten miles across, enclosing a vast anchorage with an average depth of 80 to 100 feet. The anchorage was well situated for the concentration of naval vessels that were to take part in Operation ICEBERG.

 

The main body of the USN invasion covering Force, TF 58 had sailed from Ulithi on 14/3/45 and headed north. Its objective was the Inland Sea, bounded by Kyushu, western Honshu, and Shikoku; the task of TF 58 was to prepare for the invasion of the Ryukyu Islands by attacking airfields and naval bases in the Japanese homeland. The formidable task force was composed of 10 large aircraft carriers, 6 smaller carriers, 8 fast battleships, 16 cruisers, and dozens of destroyers and auxiliaries.

 

Although Ulithi Atoll was some distance from the nearest Japanese air base it was necessary for the forces at Ulithi to be alert for air attack. On 11/3/45 the anchorage was attacked by two kamikaze Yokosuka P1Y bombers, ‘Frances’, one of which hit and damaged aircraft carrier USS RANDOLPH.

 

The distance between the Fleet and the American anchorage at the northern end of the harbour (about 10 miles) was too great for ships' boats. Realising this, the US authorities placed an L.C.I. at the disposal of the Vice Admiral Rawlings; this proved of the greatest value, not least so as a 'staff boat' for Staff Officers in their many lengthy trips in bad weather.

 

21st

The British force continued refuelling and ammunitioning before sailing for Operation ICEBERG. The fuelling was done from USN tankers, destroyers and cruisers proceeding alongside the tankers as detailed. The tankers serviced the battleships and carriers at their anchorages.

5000 fuses Mark 40 were supplied by ComSerRon 10 to KING GEORGE V, HOWE, ARGONAUT and EURYALUS to replace fuses Mark 32. The supply was very promptly executed and U.S. Navy personnel advised and assisted ships' staffs when carrying out the un-fusing and re-fusing of ammunition.

 

22nd

In the morning Vice Admiral C.H. McMorris, U.S.N., Chief of Staff to CinC PAC, accompanied by Captain H.S. Hopkins, R.N., British Pacific Fleet Liaison Officer, arrived by seaplane from Guam to discuss general matters with Vice Admiral Rawlings, 2iC British Pacific Fleet. Admiral Nimitz had intended to come to Ulithi himself but he had been laid up the previous day with a cold. The Flag Officers of the British Pacific Fleet came on board KING GEORGE V for lunch and to meet Vice Admiral McMorris.

1600 hours. BLACK PRINCE arrived at Ulithi.

 

The considerable activity which had prevailed during the last days at Manus increased in intensity at Ulithi, but transferred itself mainly to Flag Officers meetings and their staff officers. There was a continuous stream of intelligence and other material (flown by special plane from Guam), the arrival of which required hurried modification and re-modification of such plans as had already near-crystallised. Typing the distribution to the Fleet of both plans and intelligence matter went on throughout the night of the 22/3/45, the boat shortage and the swell in the anchorage in no way assisting. In spite of everything, the British Pacific Fleet, now designated Task Force 57 was ready to sail on 23/3/45.

 

23rd

0630 hours. TF 57 (now under the overall command of Admiral Raymond Spruance USN, CinC US Fifth Fleet) comprising TU 1, battleships KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral Sir Henry Bernard Rawlings, CinC TF 57 and 1st Battle Squadron and 2iC British Pacific Fleet) and HOWE; TU 2, aircraft carriers INDOMITABLE (Flag Rear Admiral Sir Philip Louis Vian Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, British Pacific Fleet and 2iC TF 57), INDEFATIGABLE, VICTORIOUS and ILLUSTRIOUS; TU 5,  light cruisers SWIFTSURE, BLACK PRINCE, ARGONAUT, EURYALUS (Flag RA [D] temporarily) and GAMBIA; and TU 8, destroyers GRENVILLE, ULSTER, UNDINE, URANIA, UNDAUNTED, QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUIBERON, QUEENBOROUGH, WHELP and WAGER sailed from Ulithi heading north easterly for the re-fuelling area, 18-30N, 129-08E, and then their operational position for Operation ICEBERG.

 

The overall objective of Operation ICEBERG was to capture Okinawa Gunto and, gaining control of the Nansei Shoto area, use them to attack the main islands of Japan with their sea and air approaches. Within ICEBERG the objective of the BPF [TF 57] was to neutralise the six airfields in the Sakishima Gunto as continuously, and for as long as possible. H Hour for the US landing on Okinawa had been set for 0830 hours 1/4/45.

 

En route to the re-fuelling area bombardment exercises were carried out by KING GEORGE V, HOWE and SWIFTSURE.

 

25th

0310 hours. With EURYALUS, BLACK PRINCE and ARGONAUT spread 8 miles apart, 8 miles ahead of the Fleet, radar contact was made with TU 12.2.5 and TU 112.2.1.

0600 hours. An RV was made with the refuelling group and destroyers commenced refuelling. It had been hoped to complete the refuelling in five hours from the tankers, but the north easterly wind, swell and hose problems were causing the operation to exceed the projected time frame. Some of destroyers were therefore ordered to refuel from KING GEORGE V, HOWE and STRIKER.

Destroyers QUALITY and WHELP, both with defects, were detached to operate with TU 12.2.5 and TU 112.2.1 and destroyers KEMPENFELT and WHIRLWIND joined TF 57.

1530 hours. Refuelling was terminated and TF 57 set course for the operation area at 23½ knots.

 

26th

0635 hours. When TF 57 was in approximate position 23-15N, 125-21E, 100 miles south of the island of Miyako-Jima, fighter sweeps were flown off to attack the airfields of Ishigaki on the island of Ishigaki-Shima and Miyako on the island of Miyako-Jima.

0800 hours. The US 77th division made the first landings of Operation ICEBERG, when they landed on the Kerama Islands. These are a group of islands 15 miles west of Okinawa and the landings were designed to secure a seaplane base and a fleet anchorage to support the main invasion.

 

In the evening after the last aircraft had been recovered at dusk, TF 57 moved off to the south eastward.

 

27th

At sunrise, which was at approximately 0600 hours, TF 57 had returned to yesterday’s flying off position and flew off a strike force to attack Ishigaki airfield.

It had been intended that the capital ships would carry out a bombardment of Ishigaki airfield but Guam reported a typhoon to the southward whose track would threaten the fuelling area and dislocate the refuelling. Therefore the CinC TF 57 decided to withdraw early to the refuelling area.

In the evening after the last aircraft had been recovered at dusk, TF 57 moved off south eastward toward refuelling area MIDGE.

 

28th

0730 hours. TF 57 made contact with Task Units 112.2.5 and 112.2.1 in area MIDGE, a rectangle extending 50 miles to the south and 100 miles to the west of 19-55N, 129-40E; fuelling and transfer of aircraft continued throughout the day. The Fleet was divided into two groups for this operation, the non-fuelling group proceeding so as to remain within touch of the fuelling group. The Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

29th

In the morning TF 57 re-engaged with the Tanker Group.

In the afternoon the RA Commanding. Destroyers transferred his flag from EURYALUS to WHIRLWIND; WHIRLWIND with STRIKER and CRANE then detached for Leyte.

EURYALUS then rejoined the remainder of the cruisers in TU 5.

During the day, mails and correspondence brought out by the Tanker Group were distributed by destroyers around TF 57.

Destroyers QUALITY and WHELP rejoined TF 57.

Destroyers KEMPENFELT and WHIRLWIND re­joined the Tanker Groups.

For the night TF 57 formed up into Cruising Disposition 5A.

 

30th

In the morning TF 57 re-engaged with the Tanker Group.

1430 hours. Fuelling was completed and TF 57 formed up in Cruising Disposition 5B. Departure was taken at 22 knots for the operating area and AC 1

assumed tactical command.

 

31st

0530 hours. ARGONAUT and WAGER were detached to a position 3000, 30 miles from the Fleet centre to act as pickets to prevent enemy aircraft returning with our own strikes. ARGONAUT was chosen for this purpose as having the most suitable radar.

0630 hours. A fighter sweep was sent in from a flying-off position 23-10N, 125-23E and thereafter fighter patrols were maintained over the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako. There appeared to be little activity in either island. Two bomber strikes were sent against Ishigaki airfield, installations and barracks.

At dusk TF 57 disengaged to the south westward and CTF 57 assumed tactical com­mand.

 

 

April

 

1st

As TF 57 approached the operational area, AC 1 assumed tactical command.

ARGONAUT and WAGER opened out to their picket positions before the fighter sweep was launched.

0640 hours. From the flying-off position 23-26N, 125-25E, the first fighter sweep was launched.

0650 hours. Bogeys were detected by radar to the westward, height 8,000 feet, closing at 210 knots. The fighter sweep was recalled to intercept and additional fighters were flown off.

The raid split up more than 40 miles from the Fleet.

One enemy ZEKE aircraft machine-gunned INDOMITABLE in a low attack killing one rating and wounding two officers and four ratings. Still flying very low it made a similar attack on KING GEORGE V but without causing casualties.

Considerable difficulty was experienced in identifying enemy planes from the FAA planes that were hard on the enemy heels.

0727 hours. An enemy Kamikaze plane dived into the base of the INDEFATIGABLE's island. Four officers and ten ratings were killed, and sixteen of her complement wounded. The flight deck was put temporarily out of action.

0755 hours. ULSTER was near missed by what appeared to be a 500 lb. bomb from an aircraft then being chased by one of our fighters. ULSTER reported that the bulkhead between the engine-room and the after boiler-room had blown, flooding both compartments, but that the ship was floating well. Casualties were two killed and one seriously wounded. She was unable to steam but her armament remained effective. The QUIBERON was ordered to stand by her and as soon as the raid was over the GAMBIA was ordered to tow ULSTER to Leyte.

 

0830 hours the first landings by US forces took place on the island of Okinawa.

 

1200 hoursGAMBIA with the ULSTER in tow left TF 57.

 

Two days later the destroyer reported that she was short of drinking water and supplies were passed to her from the GAMBIA, sixteen casks being veered astern one at a time on the end of a light wire line. On 4/4/45, minesweepers HMAS BALLARAT and LISMORE RVed with the GAMBIA and provided an anti-submarine escort for the rest of the passage. Two hours after the meeting, the tow-line carried away when two badly worn links in the ULSTER's cable parted. It took GAMBIA five hours to recover her wire and pass a

6 ½ -inch wire hawser which was secured to the destroyer's two remaining shackles of cable. The ships arrived off the entrance to Leyte Gulf in the evening of the 5/4/45 and the tow was transferred to a naval tug. GAMBIA had towed the ULSTER 760 miles at an average speed of eight knots.

 

1215 hours. A bombing strike was sent in against Ishigaki to bomb airfields and runways. No activity was noted.

1430 hours. Reports were received from combat patrols over the islands that more aircraft had been sighted at Hirara and Ishigaki airfields. These were attacked by the fighter patrols and were followed by a fighter sweep. It was estimated that about 14 enemy aircraft were destroyed on the ground during this attack and others damaged.

1730 hours. A low flying bogey was detected by radar to the north westward. Hellcats were sent to intercept this raid which developed into 2 plus but the enemy avoided them in cloud.
Soon afterwards the Fleet sighted the enemy and opened fire, sometimes it is regretted, at friendly fighters.

One enemy aircraft dived on the VICTORIOUS; her swing under full helm was successful and the plane touched its wing only on the flight deck edge spinning harmlessly into the sea where its bomb exploded clear of the ship. The manuscript instructions to the pilot were blown on board the VICTORIOUS, an interesting document, denoting priority of targets for suicide planes.

 

The matter of differentiating between friendly and enemy aircraft became daily more important. With the Kamikazes being chased by friendly fighters right on to the Fleet's guns, there was only a matter of seconds in which to act. Presented at certain angles there is very little difference between the Kamikaze Japanese single-engine aircraft and some of the FAA fighters. On the other hand the means of controlling, particularly of, stopping, the fire of the innumerable small guns that are now scattered about ships, often with poor communications, made the problem difficult.

 

At dusk TF 57 disengaged to the south eastward and CinC TF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

2nd

0510 hours. In moonlight, two fighters were flown off INDOMITABLE and sent to Ishigaki airfield. Two other aircraft were flown off at the same time and destined for Miyako airfield, but these were unable to proceed owing to radio failures. No activity was reported from Ishigaki.

 

It was evident from experience the day before that the Japanese had started staging into the Sakishima airfields and it was therefore decided to cancel the planned bombardment in favour of air operations. Also the absence of enemy activity noticed by the first fighter sweep the previous day made it appear likely that the enemy might be leaving the airfields at first light.

 

0630 hours From a flying off position 230-12N, 126-02E a fighter Ramrod was flown off to attack all airfields before TF 57 withdrew. Little activity was noticed, but one airborne Zeke was shot down over Ishigaki by Hellcats.

1045 hours. The fighter Ramrod was recovered, following which TF 57 withdrew to fuelling area MIDGE, maintaining a CAP of 12 aircraft until dark.

The CinC TF 57 was very disappointed to have to cancel the bombardment again, for although bombing was far more successful in cratering the runways etc. Rawlings particularly wished to bombard for the sake of the personnel manning the battleships and cruisers, many of whom were very young and untried.

As TF 57 left the operational area CinC TF 57 resumed tactical command.

 

During the period 23rd March to 2nd April inclusive, losses of aircraft were 25, compared to 47 enemy destroyed or probably destroyed and 38 damaged, on the ground. Enemy vessels sunk and damaged were one lugger sunk, 13 other small vessels probably sunk, and over 40 small craft damaged.

 

3rd

0630 hours. There was no sign of the Tanker Group in rendezvous position MIDGE ONE, 19-12N, 128-00E.  Weather: heavy N.E. swell, wind north, force 5. SWIFTSURE, ARGONAUT and EURYALUS were ordered ahead to carry out a search for the Fleet train.

0900 hours. TF 57 made W/T contact with Tanker Group.

1320 hours. TF 57 RVed with TU 112.2.5 and 112.2.2.

The weather and cross swell were too heavy to attempt refuelling. TF 57 remained in the area throughout the day, but towards the evening

meteorological information suggesting more suitable weather to the westward. TF 57 and the Fleet Train turned west to area MOSQUITO.

A US Task Group, TF 58, was ordered to cover Sakishima Gunto during the absence of TF 57.

 

4th

En route to area MOSQUITO.

 

 0630 hours. TU 112.2.3 arrived in replenishment position MOSQUITO from San Pedro Bay, Leyte. TU 112.2.3 included escort carrier SLINGER with replacement aircraft embarked and two further oilers, RFA's ARNDALE 8296grt, 12 knots and DINGLEDALE 8145grt, 11.5 knots. This brought the number of oilers available for refuelling to five.

 

0730 hours. TF 57 commenced refuelling and transferring stores and aircraft in a heavy N.N.E. swell in position, MOSQUITO ONE, 19-37N, 124-42E.

1920 hours. TF 57 disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

5th

TF 57 returned to position MOSQUITO ONE.

0630 hours. Recommenced refuelling TF 57, the weather conditions for fuelling having considerably improved.

During replenishment, Captain E. C. Ewen, USN, the senior USN Liaison Officer, was transferred from the INDOMITABLE to KING GEORGE V.

1930 hours. TF 57 having disengaged from the Tanker Group; TF 57 set course at 20 knots for the operational area. Owing to the numerous delays in fuelling, KING GEORGE V and the HOWE had to proceed, nearly 50% short of their full fuel stowage and the aircraft carriers had been able to embark only sufficient Avgas for the forth­coming two days' operation.

 

Rawlings took the decision to stop replenishment even though refuelling was incomplete as he judged it essential to leave with these shortages in order to be back at the time promised. He did not like battleships steaming about short of fuel for although they should have enough oil for the operation as planned, it left little in hand to meet any change of programme, and if a ship short of fuel received under­water damage her position might become embarrassing.

 

6th

0450 hours. Four fighters were flown from INDOMITABLE, two each to Miyako and Ishigaki airfields to attack any enemy aircraft taking off at dawn, but early reports from these planes indicated little or no activity in the islands. Heavy low cloud over the islands impeded operations. However eight aircraft not previously noticed at Ishigaki were attacked with apparent satisfactory results.

0530 hours. ARGONAUT and URANIA with a CAP were detached to act as Radar pickets to the north westward.

0625 hours. CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and ASP (Anti-Submarine Patrol) for the Fleet flown off.

0635 hours. TF 57 was in position 23-16N, 125-36E and CAPS were flown off to cover both islands. The craters in the runway at Miyako airfield were observed to be filled in.

0650 hoursARGONAUT and URANIA not being required to operate as pickets, were ordered to rejoin TF 57.

0850 hours. TF 57 was detected by an enemy aircraft who escaped in cloud.

In the forenoon Hellcats returning from Miyako, shot down a Frances, after a 30 mile chase.

1700 hours. Bogeys were detected by Radar. Fighters intercepted them and splashed one Judy. One Kamikaze out of an estimated raid of four broke through in cloud and dived on the ILLUSTRIOUS, who took radical avoiding action. The aircraft's wingtip hit the island, spinning the aircraft into the sea where the bomb exploded. Only slight damage and no casualties were caused.  

After the dusk the CAP had been flown on and TF 57 disengaged to the south eastward and CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

During the day the following signal was received by the CinC TF 57:

 

To:    COM 5th Fleet (R) CTF 58 CTF 57 CTF 51 CTF 56 CTF 17

From C IN C PAC

I share your hope we can bring enemy to decisive battle. Expect all out enemy re­actions in prospect.  

Good luck. - Nimitz.

 

7th

0530 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0530 hours. ARGONAUT and URANIA were detached to the north westward to act as Radar pickets, with orders to rejoin TF 57 at 0810 hours.

 

In view of Admiral Nimitz's appreciation that an all out enemy air reaction against the land and sea forces in and around Okinawa was imminent, the bombardment of Ishigaki planned to take place p.m. was cancelled in favour of air operations only, clouds over the island also influencing the decision.

A report was received that an enemy surface force had been sighted in the early hours leaving the Inland Sea and steering to the southward.

 

0610 hours. CAPS for the Fleet and islands, and ASP were flown off from position 23-16N, 125-36E. The island CAPS reported little activity on the islands, but noticed that bomb craters on Ishigaki had been filled in, and that Hirara and Nobara airfields appeared serviceable. It was therefore decided to send in three bomber strikes during the day to re-crater these fields. These strikes were successfully carried out without loss.

 

In the afternoon a USN Privateer aircraft (a navalised Liberator bomber) sighted and reported a downed FAA Corsair pilot who had lost, his way and landed in the sea about 70 miles from TF 57. The Privateer having reported him dropped dinghies and remained in the vicinity until relieved by FAA Fireflies. URANIA escorted by two fighters was despatched to the rescue of the Corsair pilot. URANIA recovered him, but unfortunately he was found to be dead.

 

1930 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command and the Fleet set course to refuel in area COOTIE, an American area closer to TF 57's operating area than areas MIDGE or MOSQUITO and which C IN C PAC had approved TF 57 using.

USN TG 52 was instructed to cover Sakishima Gunto during the day in the absence of TF 57

 

In the evening CTF 57 learned that aircraft from TF 58 had dealt severely with a Japanese surface force which had sallied forth from the Inland Sea. Reports, which indicated that the enemy lost 1 battleship, 1 cruiser, 4 destroyers sunk, with 2 destroyers burning. This news filled crews of the ships of TF 57 with admiration and at the same time, envy. This was a suicide attack on the US forces off Okinawa by the world's largest battleship the YAMATO, the light cruiser YAHAGI and 8 destroyers. The USN attacked the Japanese Force with 386 aircraft from TF 58.

 

8th

0600 hours. TF 57 RVed with TU 112.2.5 in position COOTIE ONE, 21-12N, 128-44E and commenced to refuel the Fleet in excellent weather conditions.

Light cruiser HMCS UGANDA and destroyers URCHIN and URSA joined TF 57 as reinforcements and GAMBIA rejoined from Leyte after towing the ULSTER.

By dusk all ships except one battleship and one aircraft carrier had fuelled from the 5 tankers. At this point TF 57 disengaged for the night.

 

9th

0630 hours. TF 57 recommenced fuelling.

UNDAUNTED rejoined TU 112.2.5 from Leyte, WHIRLWIND joined TF 57 from TU 112.2.5, and WHELP detached from TF 57 with A/S defects to Leyte.

1500 hours. Refuelling was complete.

1530 hours. TF 57 proceeded, setting course to carry out final strikes on Sakishima on 10th and 11th April; the programme then envisaged TF 57 returning to Leyte thereafter.

 

1650 hours. The following signal was received:

 

C IN C PAC (R) CTF 57

From COM 5th Fleet.

On 11-12 April propose Task Force 57 strike Shinchiku and Matsuyama, airfields Formosa. Request you arrange SOWESPAC AIR hit Southern Formosa fields same days. COMSUBPAC assign lifeguards to stations 9, 10 and, if possible, 11 on these days. TG 52.1 will maintain neutralisation Sakishima Gunto.

 

Shortly after, the following signal was also received:

 

CTF 57 and 51.    

From COM 5th Fleet

CTF 57 Cancel 10th April Sakishima operations. TG 52.1 continues neutralisation that day. CTF 57 advise if following not within capabilities. If approved by C IN C PAC, CTF 57 to strike Shinchiku and Matsuyama air­fields Formosa 11-12 April.

 

These were the first intimation that a change of plan was contemplated for TF 57; Rawlings thought it looked an attractive change. Rawlings discussed the situation with AC 1, following which they decided that the attacks on the Formosan airfields could be undertaken.

 

1817 hours. CTF 57 made a signal to inform COM 5th Fleet that TF 57 was ready to attack Formosa.

 

10th

TF 57 continued patrolling in the southern area during most of the day.

0845 hours. AC 1's Chief 'Staff Officer was transferred to KING GEORGE V by destroyer and the various details of the strike plans were discussed with Rawlings and his staff.

 

Following the discussion, Rawlings made a signal to inform all concerned of his intentions:

 

To COM 5th Fleet (R) CINC POA both HQs. CTG 50.5. CINC BPF, CTG 51, CTF 112, COMAAFSWPA, CINCSWPA.

From CTF 57

From approximate position SAMSON 196½¼ from western tip Yonakumi Jima will strike Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields 11-12 April forenoons. Will replenish COOTIE area 13th April. On 16th will arrive Leyte.

 

1203 hours. TF 57 was in position 20-35N, 125-55E when the final signals were transmitted to Guam.

1700 hours. TF 57 was steering for the flying-off position and CTF 57 handed over tactical command to AC 1. The operation was named ICEBERG OOLONG.

 

11th

0600 hours. TF 57 arrived at the flying-off position, 30 miles 202¼ from Yonakumi Shima. There was a fresh N.N.E. wind, moderate sea and short swell. Cloud base was about 1,000 feet with intermittent rain and drizzle.

Course was reversed and in daylight it was soon apparent that conditions were unlikely to improve in the flying area during the day while weather reports showed that conditions over Matsuyama precluded any hope of attack. It was considered that a small fighter sweep coasting round North Formosa might find Shinchiku, but that their return journey would be a considerable gamble and surprise lost. Conditions were most unsuitable also for air-sea rescue. Operations were accordingly postponed 24 hours, and the Fleet continued to the south eastward.

1813 hours. CTF 57 received CinC US 5th Fleet's order to all Task Group Commanders to prepare for heavy enemy air attacks on 12th April.

2000 hours. CTF.57 assumed tactical command.

Course was reversed during the night to bring the Fleet to the flying-off position at dawn.

 

12th

Overnight the weather improved considerably.

0530 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

0555 hours. Enemy reconnaissance aircraft possibly detected TF 57 and soon afterwards enemy air activity was detected to the northward.

0615 hours. CAP flown off.

0704 hours. Seafires had an encounter with four eastbound Zekes, one of which was shot down.

0715 hours. In position 23-58N, 122-46E the main strike force of 24 bombers and 20 fighters was flown off.

1135 hours. A shadowing Dinah was chased by Corsairs, which, after releasing their drop tanks, caught and destroyed it.

1410 hours. A Dinah escorted by two Oscar's escaped our fighters in cloud

1530 hours. Hellcats to the north westward of the Fleet shot down a Zeke.

In the evening the enemy made a sortie from Ishigaki, which was intercepted by fighters.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and TF 57 moved away from the operational area.

2100 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

From signals received CTF 57 became aware that during the day US forces off Okinawa were being heavily attacked by Kamikaze's and that Formosa-based planes were taking part. Rawlings came to the conclusion during the evening that TF 57 must contrive to remain for a further period; even it could do little more than occasionally strike at the Sakishima Gunto. TF 57 should anyhow provide an alternative target to take some of the weight. AC 1 had evidently come to the same conclusion, for at 2113 hours he informed Rawlings that, in view of the very heavy air attacks being launched against US forces on and around Okinawa, he felt that our remaining aircraft and aircrews could manage a fifth operating period provided that our losses to­morrow should remain small. In the event, the Formosa attack days acted as tonic. I therefore made the following signal:

 

To COM 5th Fleet (R) CTG 52.1 CINC BPF, CINC PACCTF 112.

From CTF 57.

In view of current situation expect to be ready further operations 16th - 17th April. If Formosa weather bad tomorrow intend deal with Ishigaki and significant intercepted traffic between Sakishima and Formosa both ways.

 

13th

0530 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

0550 hours. Four fighters were flown off. A bogey originally detected at 0540 hours developed into an ineffective raid by four Vals accompanied by a radar fitted search plane. One Val dive bombed, but missed INDOMITABLE.

0615 hours. In position 23-58N, 122-46E the CAP proper was flown off.

0640 hours. A small group of bogeys was intercepted 25 miles to the north west, two Zekes were splashed by Corsairs and the remainder retired to the northward.

0645 hours. Avenger strikes were flown to attack Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields.

1300 hours. Hellcats intercepted three Zekes about 40 miles north of .the Fleet, and Corsairs intercepted a Dinah escorted by Tojos. All the enemy aircraft escaped in cloud.

 

1840 hours. The following signal was received, and plans for a fifth operating period were made accordingly:

 

CTF 57

From COM 5th Fleet

Cover Sakishima 16th and 17th unless other orders received in interim. Affirmative your message of 12th.  Appreciate your co-operation and initiative.

 

1945 hours. After all aircraft had been flown on, CTF 57 assumed tactical command and TF 57 moved out of the operational area to RV with Fleet Train.

 

When Rawlings became aware of the death of President Roosevelt (Roosevelt died at 1535 hours 12/4/45 at Warm Springs, Georgia) he sent the following signal:

 

To CINCPOA

From CTF 57

It was with profound grief that TF 57 learned of the death of the President of the United States.

 

14th

0630 hours. TF 57 RVed with TU 112.2.5 and Tanker-Group consisting of 5 tankers in position COOTIE ONE, 21-12N, 128-44E.

Fuelling was commenced in fine weather and proceeded with fewer delays than usual.

Aircraft carrier FORMIDABLE and destroyers KEMPENFELT and WESSEX joined TF 57.

1755 hours. ILLUSTRIOUS screened by destroyers URANIA and QUALITY detached for Leyte.

 

Following receipt of the order to the US Fleet to half mast colours, Rawlings gave orders that British ships in harbour or near thereto, should conform. 'Since US ships do not, I understand, fly their colours in the operation areas and the half-masting of our colours at sea in war is I believe only done when convoying or burying the deceased, the position was not clear as regards TF 57.’ However Rawlings ‘felt it fitting and in keeping with what I knew to be the feeling of the British Fleet for this great leader and sincere friend of the British Empire, to mark the occasion irrespective of precedent';  therefore Rawlings ordered colours to be half-masted for the last hour before sunset.

 

During the refuelling operation, oiler RFA WAVE KING established a record at the time for the number of ships refuelled in one day and pumped 5050 tons of oil in 9 hours.

 

At dusk TF 57 disengaged from the Tanker Force for the night.

 

15th

0730 hours. TF 57 rejoined the Tanker Group, now consisting of three tankers.

1400 hours. Fuelling and general replenishing was completed and TF 57 set course to cover the Sakishima area again.

 

16th

0530 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

No picket cruiser was stationed owing to the shortage of fighter aircraft. (No supply of new aircraft had been available during the replenishment period)

0600 hours. 17 minutes before sunrise, in position 23-28N, 125-18E the CAP was flown off in excellent operating weather.

0622 hours. An enemy snooper at 20,000 feet escaped before the CAP had time to gain height.

0630 hours. The first strike took off to attack Ishigaki airfields.

0930 hours. The second strike took off to attack Miyako airfields.

1230 hours. A further strike took off to attack Ishigaki airfields.

1530 hours. A further strike took off to attack Miyako airfields.

1536 hours. Fighters failed to find a 320 knot bogey closing from the westward, the bogey fading at 25 miles. A possible explanation for these mysterious bogeys is that they were piloted flying bombs launched too far away and which failed to reach TF 57 before exhausting their fuel.

1722 hours. Hellcats shot down a Myrt which was apparently stalking a USN Privateer search plane.

 

In spite of having received no replenishment aircraft since 9/4/45 and the lack of fighters consequently felt, AC 1 informed CTF 57 that he considered a sixth operation period, if confined to one day, would be possible. Rawlings, therefore, in view of the sustained heavy enemy air attacks on our Fleet mates at and around Okinawa, informed Commander 5th Fleet as follows:

 

Continuing operations Sakishima tomorrow. Own losses light. Little enemy activity except anti-aircraft fire. If light losses continue, can strike final blow 19th April. Same Dumbo and submarine services needed.

 

At dusk TF 57 disengaged to the south eastward and CTF 57 assumed tactical command at 2110 hours.

 

17th

0520 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

0600 hours. TF 57 was in position 23-34N, 125-38E. CAP was flown off.

0609 hours. A few bogeys were detected to the north west of the Fleet. Fighters sent to investigate splashed one Zeke.

0630 hours. The first strike took off to attack Miyako airfields.

1627 hours. Bogeys were detected 110 miles west of the Fleet. Fighters intercepted at 55 miles and two out of 6 Zekes were shot down, the others escaping in cloud.

1750 hours. The close range weapons on KING GEORGE V suddenly opened fire on what appeared to be a blazing aircraft diving vertically on the ship. It turned out to be a falling dropped tank from a Corsair overhead, both parties missed.

 

Rawlings signal informing COM 5th Fleet that TF 57 would be available to strike again on 20th April was approved by him.

 

A further signal was also received:

 

From CINCPAC

To CTF 57 (R) 5th Fleet, CINC BPC.

It was gratifying to note, your message of 16th to COM 5th Fleet. Your Force is always ready to make still greater efforts whenever there is an opportunity to hit the enemy. Appreciate your offer which is traditional of British Navy.

 

1945 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command of TF 57, which then withdrew to fuel in area MOSQUITO ONE.

 

18th

0630 hours. TF 57 commenced fuelling from Tanker Group of 5 tankers in area MOSQUITO ONE. Mails, stores, and correspondence were transferred but no replenishment aircraft were available.

Destroyers HMAS NAPIER, NORMAN and NEPAL joined TF 57 and HMS UNDAUNTED rejoined.

Three of the five tankers of the tanker group, with Captain of Escort Forces in sloop PHEASANT, detached and sailed for Leyte.

By dusk TF 57 had completed fuelling and disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

19th

0730 hours. TF 57 rejoined the remaining two tankers of the tanker group, and destroyers topped up.

The second day in replenishing area was necessary in order to rest aircrews, and for maintenance work on aircraft.

1300 hours. TF 57 disengaged and set course for the Sakishima area, leaving KEMPENFELT (D27) in the fuelling area with 2 tankers, SPEAKER and the sloops WOODCOCK and FINDHORN, with orders to proceed to Leyte at dawn on 21st April.

 

20th

0520 hours. AC 1assumed tactical command.

0555 hours. In position 23-33N, 125-02E the CAP was flown off.

The plan for the day followed generally the pattern of previous strikes, namely to crater the runways on all Miyako and Ishigaki airfields and to maintain a CAP over them to prevent repair work, destroying any enemy airborne, and to strafe any grounded planes. In addition, 2 strikes by rocket-firing Fireflies were ordered to attack coastal shipping and ground installations.

There was no enemy airborne opposition over the islands and none came near the Fleet. The several bogeys detected during the day were all found to be friendly search planes when intercepted.

1910 hours. TF 57 set course for Leyte, having completed 12 strike days out of 26 days between first and last strikes.

1930 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

22nd

During the day, and taking advantage of the presence of Chief Staff Officer to CinC BPF on board KING GEORGE V, Rear Admiral E. J. P. Brind, C.B., C.B.E. (Flag Officer Commanding, 4th Cruiser Squadron), and Captain J. P. Wright, D.S.O. (C.S.O. to AC 1), were transferred by destroyer to KING GEORGE V for conferences.

1700 hours. Paravanes were streamed.

2000 hours. SWIFTSURE (Flag 4CS), GAMBIA, UGANDA and EURYALUS to proceed ahead to Leyte.

 

23rd

1030 hours. TF 57 entered the swept channel.

1115 hours. Paravanes were recovered.

1245 hours. TF 57 anchored in San Pedro Bay, Leyte. TF 57 anchored close to the ships of the Fleet Train.

TF 57 had been at sea for 32 days since sailing from Ulithi. On arrival in San Pedro Bay the ships of TF 57 commenced making good defects and replenishing from ships of the Fleet Train.

R and R for the crews of TF 57 was taken on board ship.

KING GEORGE V's new commanding officer, Captain Brian Bethem Schofield, RN, took command.

 

On arrival at Leyte, Rawlings waited upon Admiral Kincaid USN, Commander US 7th Fleet, and he met Vice Admiral J. L. Kauffman USN, Commander Philippine Sea Frontier and Rear Admiral R. O. Davis USN, Commander Amphibious Group 13.

 

Following his meetings with these officers Rawlings hosted a lunch for them on board his Flagship, KING GEORGE V.

Commodore E. M. Evans-Lombe RN, Captain (S) J. R. Allfrey RN, Chief of Staff and Secretary to CinC BPF, after most useful discussions, with Flag Officers of TF 57, left Leyte by air for Guam: Captain E. C. Ewen, USN, liaison Officer with TF 57, travelled with them.

 

Uppermost in Rawlings mind during the first few days at Leyte was the question of the future employment of Task Force 57. Rawlings had been informed by the CinC BPF, that alternative employment for the Fleet in the immediate future was under consideration as follows:

 

(a)  Continuation of Operation ICEBERG as already planned.

(b)  Withdrawal from ICEBERG and engagement on an operation in Borneo with target date for leaving Leyte of approximately 15th May.

 

The CinC's signals made the latter appear the most probable.

 

On 27/4/45 a signal was received from CinC BPF making it clear that the Fleet would not participate in the Borneo operation and CinC, Pacific in a signal informed Rawlings that TF 57 should continue with Operation ICEBERG. This was very satisfactory.

 

In Rawlings's signal to COM 5th Fleet he stated his intention and ability, unless otherwise ordered, to proceed from Leyte with TF 57 on 1st May to continue the neutralisation of Sakishima Gunto for a period of from three to four weeks before requiring to withdraw for major replenishment. Operations were planned for a cycle of two days of strikes followed by two for replenishment, the first strikes to be carried out on 4th and 5th May.

 

24th - 30th

At San Pedro Bay where repairs and replenishment of TF 57 continued.

 

 

 

May

 

1st

0630 hours. TF57 sailed from Leyte in the following groups:

 

1st   Battle Squadron comprising battleships KING GEORGE V (Flag CTF 57 and 1st BS) and HOWE.

1st   Carrier Squadron comprising aircraft carriers INDOMITABLE (Flag of 2iC TF57 and AC 1), VICTORIOUS, FORMIDABLE and    

       INDEFATIGABLE.

4th   Cruiser Squadron comprising light cruisers SWIFTSURE (Flag of CS.4), EURYALUS, BLACK PRINCE, HMCS UGANDA and HMNZS

       GAMBIA.  

4th   Destroyer Flotilla comprising destroyers QUILLIAM (D4), QUEENBOROUGH, QUALITY , HMAS QUIBERON, and HMAS QUICKMATCH.

25th Destroyer Flotilla comprising destroyers GRENVILLE (D5), UNDINE, URCHIN, URANIA, UNDAUNTED and URSA.

 

Course was set to RV with the Logis­tic Support Group in area MOSQUITO ONE.

 

2nd

TF 57 continued steaming for replenishment area MOSQUITO ONE.

 

3rd

0600 hours. TF 57 RVed with the Logistic Support Group TF 112 comprising oilers RFA CEDARDALE, MV SAN AMBROSIO and MV  SAN ADOLPHO escorted by destroyers HMAS NAPIER (D7), HMAS NEPAL, HMAS NIZAM and HMAS NORMAN, sloops HMS CRANE and WHIMBREL and frigate AVON.

TF 57 cruisers and destroyers topped up with fuel.

1530 hours. Fuelling was completed.

 

The RN transferred fuel at sea using hoses trailed astern of the tankers since they lacked catamarans to keep ships apart and the appropriate derricks and block and tackles to sail side by side while fuelling. Admiral Vian called this method 'an awkward, un-seaman like business’. This approach was dangerous and resulted in incidents like the one on 3/5/45 when the UGANDA fouled one of her propellers on a hose. Because of the method used it took the RN twice as long as the USN to replenish their ships. When the RN mastered the techniques that the US Pacific Fleet had mastered, such as having ships refuel abeam of their tanker, the time required was reduced.

 

TF 112 set course for area COOTIE.

TF 57 set course for their operational area to commence Operation ICEBERG TWO.

 

4th

0500 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

 

The plan for the opening of operations of ICEBERG TWO was:

 

(a)   To make airfields of the Sakishima Gunto unserviceable by bombing runways and air installations.

(b)   To conduct an offensive against flak positions and to assist in cratering runways by ship bombardment.

(c)   To maintain an offensive CAP over the islands.

 

The particular plan for the first day was for the bombarding force to bombard Miyako air­fields and flak positions at about noon, from medium range, with the Carrier Force about 30 miles to the southward)


0540 hours. In position 23-44N, 125-11E the CAP was flown off

0600 hours. Enemy air activity in the vicinity of Sakishima was detected, the general trend of traffic being to the eastward. One small group approached the Fleet and Hellcats shot down one Zeke before the others escaped in cloud.

0605 hours. Bomber strikes were flown off against Miyako.

0815 hours. Bomber strikes were flown off against Ishigaki.

1000 hours. In position 23-54N, 125-10E the bombarding force comprising KING GEORGE V, HOWE, SWIFTSURE, GAMBIA and UGANDA escorted by destroyers GRENVILLE (D5), UNDINE, URCHIN, URANIA, UNDAUNTED and URSA, and EURYALUS and BLACK PRINCE, detached from the carrier force and closed Miyako at 24 knots. The carriers provided an additional CAP for this force as well as aircraft for spotting.

1155 hours. The bombarding force passed through position 24- 33.5N, 125-10E on the bombarding course of 070 degrees at 15 knots. KING GEORGE V and HOWE were in open order line ahead and screened by 25th DF and EURYALUS and BLACK PRINCE, who occupied the two port, i.e. inshore, positions on the screen. SWIFTSURE, GAMBIA and UGANDA in open order line ahead were stationed 270¼, 3 miles, i.e. fire off port quarter of the Fleet Flagship. Condi­tions were ideal.

1205 hours. Fire was opened. KING GEORGE V and HOWE bombarded Hirara airfield and the A.A. defence area to the north of the airfield, respectively.

EURYALUS and BLACK PRINCE carried out a simultaneous air burst shoot on the A.A. defence area of Nobara airfield.

On completion of the air burst shoot, SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA bombarded Nobara airfield, and UGANDA bombarded Sukama air strip.

In spite of comparatively close ranges, no form of opposition from the shore was encountered.

1247 hours. Fire was checked after firing 77 rounds of 14in and 188 rounds of 5.25in.

 

The shots fired by UGANDA were the first shots fired in anger at sea by a Canadian warship against the Japanese.

 

Photographs showed that the runways at Nobara and Sukama were well hit and that all rounds from the HOWE fell in the target area, but no photographs were obtained to show results of the bombardment by KING GEORGE V.

 

A few minutes after the bombardment was commenced CTF 57 received a signal from AC 1 to say that the FORMIDABLE had been hit. At 1131 hours she was struck by a Zeke Kamikaze, and was reduced to a speed of 18 knots. CTF 57 accordingly informed the Bombarding Force and instructed ships to speed up the bombardment. As signals were corrupt and the situation not quite clear, CTF 57 ordered the cease fire a little earlier than planned and at 1247 hours turned the force to the southward and closed the carriers at 25 knots.

 

1500 hours. The bombarding force rejoined the carriers.

1945 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command and TF 57 withdrew from the area for the night.

 

5th

Because the operational condition of the FORMIDABLE was not clear, the programme for the day was arranged on the basis that FORMIDABLE would keep 8 fighters at readiness to reinforce the CAP if required.

0420 hours. FORMIDABLE reported that repairs to her centre boiler room were complete and that full speed was available. 

0500 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0545 hours. In position 23-10N, 125-29E the CAP was flown off.

Bombing missions were carried out against runways on Miyako and Ishigaki.

1905 hours. The Fleet withdrew and set course for area COOTIE.

1945 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

In the absence of TF 57, US Task Group 52.1 covered Sakishima.

 

6th

0630 hours. In area COOTIE ONE, position 21-12N, 128-44E, TF 57 RVed with the Logistic Support Group TF 112 comprising oilers RFA's CEDARDALE, WAVE KING, WAVE MONARCH and MV SAN AMBROSIO and MV SAN ADOLPHO, escort carriers RULER and STRIKER escorted by destroyers HMAS NAPIER (D7), HMAS NEPAL, HMAS NIZAM and HMAS NORMAN, sloops CRANE, PHEASANT and WHIMBREL and frigate AVON.

0700 hours. Refuelling commenced and exchange of aircraft with STRIKER continued throughout the day.

 

The RULER, who had embarked 885 Sqdn - a composite squadron of 18 Hellcats and four Avengers, provided a CAP and ASP over TF 112.

 

Casualties from FORMIDABLE were transferred to the STRIKER.

1915 hours. STRIKER and destroyer KEMPENFELT detached for Leyte.

HMAS NAPIER joined TF 57.

1845 hours. The Fleet detached from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

7th

0615 hours. TF 57 RVed with TF 112 and re-commenced fuelling and exchange of stores, mail and correspondence.

1400 hours. Fuelling was completed and TF 57 set course to return to the operational area. By this time the FORMIDABLE had made good her damage and was fully operational. 

 

NORMAN was ordered to escort oilers WAVE KING and WAVE MONARCH to Leyte; and WHIMBREL and AVON escorted oilers

SAN AMBROSIO, SAN ADOLPHO and CEDARDALE to Leyte.

 

9th

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command. The weather although showery was much improved and continued to improve during the day.

0545 hours. In position 23-06N, 126-00E, CAPS were flown off. Weather over the targets was reported as satisfactory. All runways at Hirara were reported as serviceable.

0830 hours. In position 23-40N, 125- 34E. The first bomber strike was flown off.

Three further bomber strikes were flown off during the day.

1145 hours. TF 57 was sighted by a bogey which approached within 30 miles. Fighters drove it off but were unable to catch it.

1645 hours. Bogeys were detected very low 22 miles to the westward coming in fast. Four Seafires intercepted at 15 miles, but allowed themselves to be decoyed away by one aircraft which they shot down. Meanwhile four other enemy planes evaded another division of Seafires, and after climbing to about 3,000 feet penetrated to the Fleet.

 

From 1650 hours onwards the Fleet was radically maneuvered by emergency turns at 22 knots. One minute after such a turn of 60 degrees to starboard was executed, a Kamikaze made a 10 degrees angle dive onto the VICTORIOUS from her starboard quarter. The enemy was well hit by close range weapons but crashed onto the flight deck near the forward lift.

1656 hours. Another Kamikaze made a shallow power glide from astern on VICTORIOUS. Though hit hard by gunfire, and well on fire, it hit the flight deck aft a glancing blow, and burning furiously, passed over the side. Damage to the ship was limited.

1657 hours. A third Kamikaze made a pass at VICTORIOUS but then shifted target to the HOWE further ahead, and approached from the starboard quarter in a long shallow dive. This time the attacker was hit at a more reasonable range, and continued to be so until it crashed in flames 100 yards from the HOWE after passing over the quarterdeck.

1705 hours. A fourth Kamikaze approached FORMIDABLE and then INDOMITABLE, being engaged by both ships, without apparent result. It then turned and dived into the after deck park of the FORMIDABLE. There was a large explosion and fire and a great deal of smoke. Speed was reduced to 15 knots to aid control of the fire which was extinguished at 1720 hours.

1755 hours. FORMIDABLE reported being fit to land on aircraft.

 

The state of the Carrier Squadron was now as follows. The FORMIDABLE and VICTORIOUS could operate, but the former had only four bombers and 11 fighters serviceable, and also had two pom-pom mountings out of action. The VICTORIOUS could operate a few aircraft at a time, but the damage to her lift seriously reduced her speed of handling. In the circumstances CTF 57 concurred with a recommendation from AC 1 that the Fleet should withdraw to fuel, sort out and make good the damage, etc. and return to strike on 12th /13th May. Rawlings informed Commander 5th Fleet of this intention. As TG 52.1 had been ordered to cover Sakishima on days when TF 57 was not striking, these two alterations to the programme dictated first by weather and then by damage consideration, must have caused inconvenience to QJG 52.1.

 

1950 hours. TF 57 left the operational area and course was set for area COOTIE.

2000 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

USN Task Unit 52.1.3 covered Sakishima during 10th and 11th May.

 

10th

0610 hours. In area COOTIE ONE, TF 57 RVed with the Logistic Support Group TF 112 comprising oilers RFA ARNDALE and DINGLEDALE, MV AASE MAERSK 6184grt, 10.5 knots (Danish, taken over by MOWT in 1940) and MV SAN AMADO 7316grt, 12 knots, tug WEASEL, and escort carriers RULER and STRIKER escorted by destroyer NEPAL, sloops CRANE, PHEASANT and WOODCOCK and minesweepers (known as corvettes in Australian Navy) HMAS WHYALLA and BALLARAT.

0630 hours. Refuelling and the exchange of mail correspondence and stores, and the replenishment of aircraft commenced and continued throughout the day.

AC 1 visited VICTORIOUS and FORMIDABLE to inspect damage, and found that temporary repairs being carried out showed that both ships would be sufficiently repaired to be operational to continue the programme of strikes. 

 

AC.1 and CS.4 then boarded KING GEORGE V to discuss with CTF 57 measures to give better protection to the carriers, and in the light of the enemy's apparent change of tactics in attacks on TF 57. The enemy appeared to have abandoned his previous practice of a high approach in favour of a low one, thereby greatly reducing the length of warning and making interception by fighters much more difficult. To combat this, it was decided:

 

(a)   To station two radar pickets, each consisting of a 6in cruiser and a destroyer, 12 miles to the north west, and south westward of the   

        Fleet so as to increase the range of detection. Two fighters would be allocated to each picket and at first contact with the enemy,    

        other fighters would be sent to the .threatened sector.

(b)    To bring in the 5.25in. cruisers from the screen and station them with the main body of the Fleet to increase AA protection for the

  carriers whenever in the operation area.

(c)   To station a destroyer astern of each carrier to afford more gun protection in what appeared to be the enemy's favourite position for

        attacking carriers.

(d)  To increase mutual gun support when attack threatened by bringing in the carriers to the 2,000 yards circle, and the battleships and

        cruisers of the main body until their distance from adjacent carriers was 2,000 yards.

This new disposition was to be given a trial during the next-strike period.

 

The question of reducing the distance between ships had been under review for some time. There were many factors to take into con­sideration, not least of these being the interference caused to flying in and off and forming up. Its adoption for trial now was a measure of the improvement of the pilots' skill, etc. during the present operations.

 

The Fleet was also instructed that in future attacks enemy aircraft must be brought under fire much earlier than had been the case recently. Commanding Officers of ships were ordered to give this matter their personal attention.

 

1915 hours. The Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

11th

0630 hours. KEMPENFELT, having made good defects at Leyte rejoined TF 57.

0640 hours. TF 57 again formed on the Tanker Group, and all fuelling and transfer of stores, aircraft, correspondence, and personnel was completed in time for the Fleet to disengage at 1640 hours and take departure for the operations area.

NEPAL joined TF 57.

QUEENBOROUGH, who had developed shaft vibration, was sent back to Leyte, with SPEAKER.

Oilers AASE MAERSK and SAN AMADO escorted by the WHYALLA and BALLARAT also returned to Leyte.

12th

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

0520 hours. The four counter-Kamikaze destroyers took station, one close astern of each carrier.

Radar pickets, SWIFTSURE with KEMPENFELT, and UGANDA with WESSEX, were stationed 12 miles 315 degrees and 225 degrees respectively from the Fleet centre.

0540 hours. In position 23-40N, 126-51E, in overcast weather, the TF 57 and island CAPS and the first bomber strike were flown off.

Four bomber strikes were flown off during the day.

1915 hours. The radar pickets rejoined.

1930 hours. The dusk CAP was landed on and the Fleet withdrew to the southward for the night.

2010 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

13th

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

Radar pickets and counter-Kamikaze destroyers were stationed.

0540 hours. In position 24-20N, 126-55E, in fine weather, the TF 57 and island CAPS were flown off.

Four bomber strikes were flown during the day, three to Miyako and one to Ishigaki.

0948 hours. A possible submarine contact was obtained close to TF 57 in position 24-20N, 126-48E. Three destroyers were detached to hunt for it with a CAP of 4 Corsairs

1203 hours. A possible contact was attacked with depth charges, and 2 Avengers were flown off for ASP, and another armed with depth charges was sent to assist the hunt. The possible contact was later reported as stationary, and although the hunt was continued through­out the afternoon no S/M contact was found. It now considered that a S/M was never present.

1920 hours. The dusk CAP was landed on and the Fleet withdrew to fuel in area COOTIE.

1950 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

14th

0630 hours. In area COOTIE, TF 57 RVed with oilers RFA's ARNDALE and DINGLEDALE escorted by RULER, CRANE, WOODCOCK, PHEASANT and WEASEL.

0650 hours. Refuelling commenced.

The other incoming Tanker Group was late at the rendezvous. They were found by search aircraft from the CAP and directed to TF 57. This group consisted of RFAs WAVE KING and WAVE MONARCH escorted by NIZAM and STRIKER.

1100 hours. Refuelling and replacement of aircraft commenced from the second group.

Forty tons of bombs were transferred by BLACK PRINCE from FORMIDABLE to the INDEFATIGABLE. This was necessary because the dimensions of the American bombs supplied to ships at Leyte had prevented the full number required being stowed in INDEFATIGABLE.

During the forenoon, search aircraft were sent to find and direct hospital ship TJITJALENGKA to TF 57.

 

MV TJITJALENGKA 10972grt, 15 knots, was a Dutch passenger ship that had been requisitioned by the MOWT in 1940 and used as troopship. On 8/7/42 she was chartered to the Admiralty after having been fitted out as a hospital ship with beds for 504 patients.

 

TJITJALENGKA had been requested by CTF 57 to remain at call within 30 miles of a position 85 miles to the eastward of the normal dawn position of TF 57 in the fuelling area. Casualties by now fit to be moved were transferred to TJITJALENGKA by destroyer in the afternoon.

1910 hours. The Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

During the absence of TF 57 Sakishima was covered by USN TU 52.1.3.

 

At this stage it became necessary to consider the date on which TF 57 would leave the operations area for major storing in the rear bases. The oilers and repair ships of the Fleet Train, based at Leyte, required early notice of a firm date for re-disposition in order that with their slow speed they might reach their new stations in time to meet TF 57 and fulfill their functions.

 

As TF 57 was due at the storing ports early in June, and as it was evident that a considerable amount of work would be required to make good the battle damage to carriers, it appeared desirable to conclude operations with the twelfth strike day on 25th May, and so ensure the Fleet being ready to resume operations when required in July.

 

After consultation with AC 1, CTF 57 accordingly sent the following signal:

 

Action COM 5th Fleet C IN C PAC

Info C-in-C, B.P.F. VA(Q) FONAS(A) CTF 113  

From CTF 57

 

Propose with your concurrence TF57 continues present strikes until 24 and 25 May then CTF 57 in KING GEORGE V, 3 destroyers proceed Guam arriving 1000 hours 28th leave 0600 hours 30th for Manus. If you concur request authority these four ships fuel with US supplies Guam. Remainder TF 57 to Manus after fuelling COOTIE on 26th arriving in forenoon 30th. Could carry out further strikes if losses remain light on 28th and 29th May which would delay above programme for four days. CTF112 will divert slow tankers to Manus or COOTIE which necessitates early decision on your needs.

 

15th

0630 hours. TF 57 reformed on the tanker group, and fuelling and exchange of stores, aircraft and correspondence was continued

Destroyers TROUBRIDGE and TENACIOUS joined TF 57.

GRENVILLE detached from TF 57 and joined TU 112.2.5, to be left in the servicing area.

1705 hours. With replenishment completed TF 57 disengaged from the Tanker Group and departure was taken for the operations area.

 

During the day the following signals were received:

 

CTF 57.          From COM 5th Fleet

Not necessary, keep up coverage of Sakishima after 25th.


CTF 57.          From CINOPAC

Arrival KING GEORGE V and 3 destroyers Guam 28th May approved. Will be pleased to welcome you. Guam has available fuel for topping off.

 

16th

0510 hoursAC 1 assumed tactical command.

Radar pickets were sent out and counter Kamikaze destroyers closed their carriers.

0540 hours. In position 23-40N, 126-51E, the TF 57 and island CAPS and the first bomber strike for Miyako were flown off.

Five bomber strikes were sent to the islands, during the day, three to Miyako and two to Ishigaki.

1935 hours. The dusk CAP landed on and the Fleet withdrew to the southward for the night.

1950 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.  

 

17th

0510 hoursAC 1 assumed tactical command.

Radar pickets were sent out and counter Kamikaze destroyers closed their carriers.

 

The day broke with very light winds of only one or two knots, a state of affairs which persisted and proved a handicap throughout the day. The state of boiler brickwork in several ships, and the defective centre stern tube bush in  INDOMITABLE, made high speeds most undesirable; but without high speeds, little safety margin was left for operating aircraft.

 

0540 hours. From a position 85 miles 110 degrees from Miyako the TF 57 and island CAPS were flown off.

Bomber strikes were sent to the islands during the day.

1915 hours. The dusk CAP was landed on and the radar pickets were recalled and TF 57 withdrew to area COOTIE to fuel.

1940 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

During the absence of TF 57 Sakishima was covered by USN TG 52.1.

 

18th

0545 hours. In area COOTIE, TF 57 RVed with the Tanker Group, comprising oilers RFA CEDARDALE, MV SAN AMBROSIO and MV SAN ADOLPHO, escorted by RULER, CHASER, (with replacement aircraft embarked) GRENVILLE, NORMAN, WHIMBREL, PARRETT, BENDIGO and WEASEL

0600 hours. Refuelling commenced.

BLACK PRINCE transferred bombs from FORMIDABLE to INDEFATIGABLE.

1745 hours. The Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

1800 hours. The Tanker Group reversed course to enable them to RV with ammunition carrier ROBERT MAERSKz which was expected in position COOTIE ONE at 0600 hours 18/5/45. Meanwhile the transfer of bombs by BLACK PRINCE continued until dark.

 

19th

0645 hours. TF 57 reformed on the Tanker Group which now included MV ROBERT MAERSK 2294grt, 14 knots, (Danish ship requisitioned 6/40 by MOWT) with supplies of bombs, who had been escorted to the area by minesweeper HMAS CAIRNS

The transfer of bombs, fuel and stores was continued.

VICTORIOUS and later INDOMITABLE went alongside ROBERT MAERSK and embarked bombs by whip and inhaul method, the rate of transfer being about 75 bombs per hour.

Continuous rain and low visibility in the afternoon prevented flying and seriously upset the numbers of replenishment aircraft to be flown onto FORMIDABLE and the flyable duds which were to be flown from her to CHASER.

TJITJALENGKA was contacted by aircraft and directed to the Fleet. TJITJALENGKA then embarked sick and casualties.

NORMAN joined TF 57 replacing the NEPAL.

1800 hours. Oilers CEDARDALE, SAN AMBROSIO and SAN ADOLPHO escorted by BENDIGO and CAIRNS detached for Manus. PARRETT acted as additional escort until 21/5/45 when she detached to Leyte.

1930 hours. NEPAL was detached to Leyte to augment the escorts available to CTF. 112 for the forthcoming, move south by the Fleet Train.

1930 hours. TF 57 departed for the operations area.

 

20th

The flying-off position for the day was to be 23-39N, 126-40E.

0458 hours. First light, the clouds were low, about 8/10 and the horizon clear.

0500 hours. The four anti–Kamikaze destroyers who included QUILLIAM, left the screen as previously arranged, and started to close their carriers to form astern of them. The Fleet was proceeding at 16 knots.

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

0515 hours. The Fleet ran into dense fog.

0524 hours. QUILLIAM, endeavouring to form astern of the INDOMITABLE, collided with her. Fortunately no casualties were sustained, but superficial above water damage was caused to the INDOMITABLE, and serious damage to the bow of the QUILLIAM. As soon as the damaged destroyer was clear of the screen, NORMAN was ordered to take her in tow.

0615 hours. BLACK PRINCE was sent to stand by both ships and escort them to area COOTIE.

0745 hours. By which time the weather had improved slightly, CAPS and the first strike was flown off. Because of weather conditions this proved to be the only one.

 

During the forenoon CTG 99.2's signal was received, indicating the intention of that group to strike Miyako with shore based aircraft at 1700 hours. It was therefore decided to withdraw CAPS from that island by 1600 hours. The strike planned for Ishigaki at 1630 hours was not altered. These intentions were communicated to CTF 51 and CTG 99.2. In the event, however, and presumably because of weather, CTG 99.2 cancelled his strike.

 

1210 hours. Two bogeys were detected 50 miles to the westward tracking 040 degrees. Fighters sent to intercept found both aircraft were friendly bombers. No information of their presence or mission was known to CTF 57.

1900 hours. All CAPS were recovered and TF 57 withdrew to the southward for the night.

1930 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

2100 hours. TF 57 passed close to BLACK PRINCE who reported that the QUILLIAM was satisfactorily in tow.

 

On 21/5/45 BLACK PRINCE transferred the tow to tug WEASEL.

 

21st

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

Flying off had been planned for 0540 hours from a position 85 miles 110¼ from Miyako. The weather at dawn was similar to the previous day except that the Fleet was clear of fog patches. Flying-off was therefore postponed.

0600 hours. Four Hellcats were flown off to investigate the weather within a 30 mile radius. They reported clear weather to east and west, and improving weather to the northward. Acting on this information the first strike was flown off at 0655 hours.

Five bomber strikes were flown off during the day, three to Miyako and two to Ishigaki.

1423 hours. A high snooper was detected approaching TF 57 from the westward. Fighters were ordered to 30,000 feet and at 1442 hours intercepted 36 miles to the south westward at 26,000 feet. The enemy, a Myrt, was shot down 4 minutes later by Hellcats from the INDOMITABLE.

 

During the day Commander Third Fleet's signal was received. This indicated the nature of future operations for the British Pacific Fleet. In the light of this, and after consulting with AC 1, CTF 57 decided to release FORMIDABLE early for repair of battle damage. It was felt that this was necessary to ensure that 4 carriers would be available for operations on completion of the forthcoming storing period. This decision was communicated to Commander Fifth Fleet.

 

1930 hours. The dusk CAP was landed on, radar pickets were recalled, and TF 57 then withdrew to area COOTIE.

1930 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

During the absence of TF 57 the USN Task Unit 52.1.3 covered Sakishima.

 

22nd

0700 hours. In position COOTIE ONE,  TF 57 RVed with:

 

(a)   The tug WEASEL towing QUILLIAM and escorted by BLACK PRINCE, GRENVILLE, NORMAN and RULER.

(b)   The ships of the Fleet Train consisting of  oilers RFA's WAVE KING and WAVE MONARCH, MV AASE MAERSK and MV SAN AMADO,  

        ammunition carrier MV ROBERT MAERSK, CHASER and SPEAKER (with replacement aircraft) escorted by NAPIER, CRANE, AVON and

        FINDHORN.

Fuelling, and exchange of aircraft and stores and bombs, was carried out throughout the day.

GRENVILLE (D25) re­joined TF 57 as Senior Officer Destroyers, and WESSEX took her place as escort to TU 112.2.5.

After receiving mails and discharging excess complement the damaged QUILLIAM proceeded in tow of tug WEASEL to Leyte. NORMAN acting as escort. CTF 112 was requested to arrange for a larger tug to meet and relieve WEASEL. (American tug USS TURKEY was sent out from Leyte, where the tow arrived safely on 28/5/45)

1800 hours. FORMIDABLE was detached with orders to proceed to Manus and then Sydney to expedite repair of battle damage. She was escorted by destroyers KEMPENFELT and WHIRLWIND, both of whom were due for refit.

1915 hours. The Fleet disengaged from the Tanker Group for the night.

 

23rd

0745 hours. TF 57 reformed on the Tanker Group, and fuelling and exchange of stores was continued.

Light cruiser HMNZS ACHILLES joined TF 57.

Owing to the plummer block on the centre shaft overheating and wiping in INDOMITABLE, her speed had to be limited to 22 knots.

1800 hours. CHASER, SPEAKER and NAPIER were detached for Manus.

1815 hours. TF 57 detached from the Tanker Group taking departure for the operations area with only 3 carriers in company.

CTF 57 had hoped to bombard Miyako on 24/5/45, but with the reduced number of aircraft available it was judged wiser to forego this plan in favour of an entire air effort.

 

24th

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command.

Dawn visibility was low, sky overcast with rain and drizzle. Flying-off was postponed.

0900 hours. Four fighters flown off reported weather improving slowly in the vicinity.

1045 hours. In position 23-40N, 126-52E the first strike was flown off against Miyako.

1245 hours. The first strike was flown off against Ishigaki.

A further strike was flown off against each target.

1907 hours. The last CAP was landed on and radar pickets were recalled. TF 57 then withdrew to the southward for the night.

1940 hours. CTF 57 assumed tactical command.

 

25th

0510 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical command

0600 hours. In position 23-40N, 126-52E the first strike was flown off against Miyako.

A further two strikes against Miyako were flown off at 1115 hours and 1400 hours.

The returning strike from Ishigaki made contact with the submarine USS BLUEFISH, who reported that during the previous night lights had been observed on Ishigaki airfield. The submarine commander had therefore bombarded the airfield.

1910 hours. The last CAP was landed on and radar pickets were recalled. TF 57 then withdrew to the southward for the night.

2200 hours. KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral Rawlings CTF 57) with destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS and TERMAGANT detached from TF 57 and set course for Guam.

 

The remaining ships of TF 57 under command of AC 1 set course for area COOTIE to top off ships, with fuel as necessary for them to reach Manus.

 

The following signals were subsequently ex­changed between C IN C PAC and CTF 57:

 

CTF 57.  Info C-in-C, BPF. C IN C PAC ADV 5th Fleet

From COM 5th Fleet

 

I would express, to you, to your officers and to your men, after two months operations as a Fifth Fleet Task Force, my appreciation of your fine work and co-operative spirit. Task Force 57 has mirrored the great traditions of the Royal Navy to the American Task Forces.

Spruance. COM, 5th Fleet Info C IN C PAC ADV C.-in-C, BPF.

 

From CTF57

 

We are proud to have been in a position to lend a hand in this crucial operation and hope we may continue so doing until Victory. Will pass your generous message with great personal pleasure, to all of the British Pacific Fleet who have been honoured by serving under you. Regret my Flagship and I were not able to greet you on your return to Guam.

 

The objective of the British Pacific Fleet [TF 57] had been to:

 

(a)   Render the six Japanese airfields unusable to the enemy by constant bombing and cratering of the runways, plus destruction of

        buildings.

(b)   Destroy enemy aircraft on the ground and in the air

(c)   Prevent aircraft originating in Formosa from using the islands as a staging area to attack the American fleet at Okinawa or reinforce   

        land based aircraft in Japan.

 

The objective had generally been achieved, but as Vice Admiral Rawlings (CTF 57) reported, 'however thoroughly the airfields were neutralised by day, the enemy was determined and able to effect repairs by night'. One of the reasons the Japanese could do this was because the strike Avengers were dropping 1000 lb. semi-armour piercing bombs that were surplus to the FAA attacks on the TIRPITZ. These weapons were useless for cratering runways.

During TF 57's period of operations against the Sakishima Gunto, the Force was at sea for 62 days, broken by eight days spent in Leyte Gulf. In the course of its operations TF 57 flew 4852 aircraft sorties and discharged 875 tons of bombs and rocket projectiles. About one hundred Japanese aircraft were destroyed and more than seventy damaged.

During the second part of the operations, nine oilers supplied the fleet with 87,000 tons of fuel oil and 756 tons of aviation spirit, enabling it to remain at sea for a month between 700 and 900 miles from its base.

TF 57 carried out almost 8,000 aircraft sorties with the loss in action of 85 aircraft. Half that number again was lost to kamikaze strikes. 

The TF 57 aircraft carriers suffered 70 deaths and 34 seriously wounded from kamikaze attacks)

 

Admiral King USN, CinC US Navy, in his report to the Honourable James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, wrote:


A fast British carrier task force, under the command of Vice Admiral Rawlings, was assigned to Admiral Spruance's Fifth Fleet to assist in the air support operations for the Okinawa assault. From 26 March to 20 April, and again from 4 May to 25 May, planes from this force rendered valuable service in neutralizing the enemy air installations on Sakishima Gunto, southwest of Okinawa. Carriers of the force were subjected to frequent attacks by suicide planes, but none of them was put out of action. Battleships and cruisers of the force bombarded Miyako Jima on 4 May with satisfactory results.

 

26th

En route to Guam.

Noon position 20-04N, 132-08E

1700 hours. Altered course to 122¼

1800 hours. Sighted one Coronado aircraft on patrol

 

27th

En route to Guam.

0846 hours. Sighted one Coronado aircraft on patrol.

Noon position 16-01N, 138-49E

2000 hours. Reduced speed to 19 knots.

 

28th

0715 hours. Land in sight, reduced speed to 17 knots and altered course to 100¼.

0905 hours. Stopped one mile off Orote Point, Guam, where all ships embarked pilots and the British Naval Liaison Officer to the CinC Pacific Fleet, Acting Captain H.S. Hopkins, R.N. boarded KING GEORGE V. 

0920 hours. Entered Apra Harbour. 

0940 hours. KING GEORGE V secured to buoy whilst destroyers TROUBRIDGE and TERMAGANT proceeded to a tanker to fuel. The TENACIOUS anchored and fuelled from tanker after the TERMAGANT had finished topping up.

Vice Admiral Rawlings, 2inC British Pacific Fleet called on Admiral Nimitz, the CinC US Pacific Fleet immediately after arrival in Guam, and in the evening dined ashore at Admiral Nimitz' invitation.

 

29th

1030 hours. Admiral Nimitz wearing 'white undress', came on board KING GEORGE V where he inspected the Marine Guard of Honour and was afterwards introduced to the Senior Officers, Commanding Officers of destroyers, and Senior Staff Officers. Nimitz then addressed the assembled company, which included a representative team of officers and men from the three destroyers.

1630 hours. An ‘at home’ was held on board KING GEORGE V, the invitation being extended by the Vice Admiral Rawlings, 2iC British Pacific Fleet, Captain and Officers of the ship to the United States Authorities at Guam. The number attending unfortunately had to be limited but about 100 Officers and a few military and naval nurses attended the party, which was held on the Quarter Deck.

In the evening, the Vice Admiral Rawlings, entertained Admiral Nimitz and other senior United States Officers to dinner on aboard KING GEORGE V.

 

The welcome given to this small representative portion of the British Pacific Fleet was most warm, and every facility, both social and recreational, was extended to the Officers and men of the Flagship and accompanying destroyers.  An issue of beer was made to the ship's companies in the canteen ashore, and motor transport was put at the disposal of Officers and ratings for sightseeing tours of the Island.  Practically 50% of the ship's companies were landed each day.

 

30th

0700 hours. KING GEORGE V sailed from Apra Harbour, preceded by destroyers TROUBRIDGE, TERMAGANT, and TENACIOUS, who formed an A/S screen as soon as the harbour was cleared.

0715 hours. Set course 270¼, 24 knots for Manus.

0835 hours. Altered course to 195¼ and commenced zigzag.

Between 0850 and 1015 hours, KING GEORGE V carried out long range and close range firings at two sleeve targets provided by CTG. 94.10.

Destroyers carried out similar practices between 1030 and 1145 hours. 

1200 hours. TROUBRIDGE carried out firing at smoke burst target.

Noon position 12-10N 143-35E

1700 hours. Altered course to 190¼.

 

31st

0325 hours. Altered course to 145¼ and resumed zig zag

Noon position 03-43N, 144-07E.

The Captain of the Fleet, Captain E.W. Longley Cook RN, was transferred to TENACIOUS for passage to Manus and thence to Sydney by air, so as to arrive before the Fleet.

 

 

June

 

1st

0255 hours. Course was altered to 175¼, speed 22 knots.

0600 hours. Off Manus, in TBS touch with destroyer GRENVILLE.

0630, hours. TROUBRIDGE, TERMAGENT, and TENACIOUS were detached to Manus.  Screen was then taken over by destroyers GRENVILLE, UNDINE, URCHIN, and WESSEX.  Speed was increased to 23 knots, course as requisite to pass through the off lying islands.

0720 hours. Passed destroyer TEAZER northbound to Manus.

1030 hours. Contacted oiler RFA DINGLEDALE and proceeded to fuel on course 185¼, speed 9 knots.

1100 hours. GRENVILLE went alongside KING GEORGE V and transferred mail and correspondence.

Noon position 03-31S, 147-10E

1440 hours. Sighted CRANE southbound

1445 hours. Completed fuelling and course set for Viking Strait at 23 knots.

2100 hours. Passed aircraft carrier IMPLACABLE, outbound from Sydney, and escort to port, northbound to Manus.

 

2nd

0415 hours. Altered course to 125¼.

0730 hours. Altered course to 150¼.

Noon position 9-32S, 151-30E

1655 hours. Altered course 180¼, speed 22 knots.

2000 hours. Altered course to 170¼.

 

3rd

0700 hours. Altered course to 165¼

0900 hours. Passed escort carrier BEGUM, northbound from Sydney carrying airframes to MONAB IV, HMS Nabaron, at Manus.

Noon position 18-13S, 153-17E.

2100 hours. Altered course to 175¼.

 

4th

2100 hours. Altered course to 175¼.

Noon position 26-49S, 154-43E.

1700 hours. Altered course to 195¼.

 

5th

0658 hours. Reduced speed to 17 knots.

0730 hours. Altered course to 255¼.

0920 hours. Reduced speed to 16 knots.

1115 hours. Altered course to 275¼.

Noon position 33-47.5S  152-04E

1200 hours. Manoeuvred as necessary to close Sydney harbour entrance.

1420 hours. Destroyer took station astern

1440 hours. Embarked pilot and proceeded up Sydney harbour

1530 hours. KING GEORGE V secured at No. 6 WOOLLOOMOOLOO.

 

5/6/45 The main body of the British Pacific Fleet arrived at Sydney on this day. The objective of the Fleet returning to Sydney was to facilitate the storing of ships, repair the carriers' battle damage, boiler cleaning, and generally store for the next operational period.

Four days' leave was granted to each watch whilst in Sydney, the resultant invasion being quickly dispersed by the hospitable Australians who accommodated in their own homes a large percentage of the libertymen for the period of their leave.

 

18th

At Sydney where their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester honoured Vice Admiral Rawlings, 2iC British Pacific Fleet, with their presence on board KING GEORGE V for luncheon.

 

19/6/45 Commander Hutchinson RN, Staff Officer Operations to the Vice Admiral Rawlings 2iC British Pacific Fleet, Commander Smeeton RN, Staff Officer Air Plans, Commander Lewin RN, Staff Fighter Direction Officer, both on staff of the Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, together with Captain Ewen, USN LO, with the Pacific Fleet left Sydney by air for Leyte, to discuss forthcoming operation with the Staff of Admiral Halsey, Commander US Third Fleet. The party returned to Sydney on 25/6/45.

 

24th

At Sydney where again their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester honoured Vice Admiral Rawlings with their presence on board KING GEORGE V for luncheon.

 

28th

0730 hours. The ships of the British Pacific Fleet, now designated TF 37, started to leave Sydney Harbour, split into the following groups so as to facilitate individual practice requirements:

TG 37.1 KING GEORGE V (Flag CTF 37 and VA2iCBPF)

TG 37.2 FORMIDABLE (Flag AC 1) and attendant destroyers WESSEX and WRANGLER, IMPLACABLE and VICTORIOUS and attendant destroyers TERPSICHORE, and TEAZER joining on passage.

TG 37.3 BLACK PRINCE, EURYALUS and HMCS UGANDA with NEWFOUNDLAND joining on passage.

TG 37.4 BARFLEUR (Flag RA (D)), GRENVILLE, URANIA, UNDINE, URCHIN, UNDAUNTED and ULYSSES.

 

In the orders for passage, it was arranged that each Task Unit, under its Flag Officer, should proceed independently, making the most of all opportunities for carrying out individual practices, keeping within 30 miles of KING GEORGE V during the day, and closing to radar touch by nightfall. The aircraft carriers were ordered to follow a track approximately 10 miles to the Eastward of the route of the main force, otherwise acting independently for flying practices. Throughout the passage economy of oil in destroyers was the determining factor.

 

1030 hours. Destroyers carried out sleeve target firing.

1145 hours. KING GEORGE V, GAMBIA and BLACK PRINCE carried out long and close range AA firing position in 75 degrees South Head, 10 miles. The sleeve targets were towed by Naval Aircraft from NAS NOWRA. (Naval Air Station near Nowra, New South Wales)

 

29th

1000 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out range and inclination exercises with GAMBIA and BLACK PRINCE and on completion, the cruisers carried out radar calibration exercises with KING GEORGE V at 10,000 yards.

Noon Position 29-10S, 154-52E

1500 hours. The EURYALUS joined CS 4 from Brisbane.

 

30th

0300 hours. A Radar contact was obtained with a group of ships bearing 280 degrees, 21 miles. These were identified as destroyers QUICKMATCH, QUIBERON, QUALITY and QUADRANT who, to ease the fuelling situation, had been sent previously to fuel at Brisbane before proceeding independently from there to join AC 1 and relieve WESSEX and WRANGLER.

Bombardment communication exercises between KING GEORGE V and EURYALUS

Dummy Air Reporting Exercises carried out by the cruisers.

Noon position 22-46S, 156-07E.

1200 hours. IMPLACABLE, escorted by destroyers TEAZER and TERPSICHORE, joined AC 1. NEWFOUNDLAND and GAMBIA (Flag CS4) joined the other two cruisers of CS 4. These ships had sailed from Manus.

1800 hoursRear Admiral CS, Rear Admiral E J P Brind, transferred his flag from GAMBIA to NEWFOUNDLAND

1930 hours. TF 37 commenced night encounter exercise. For this exercise, KING GEORGE V was assumed to be a damaged battleship, with three 6in cruisers in company, returning to base. The attacking force under RA (D) consisting of TG. 37.4 with the BLACK PRINCE and EURYALUS attached.

2040 hours. The exercise was completed.

2050 hours. WESSEX was detached by AC 1 to return to Sydney. 

2050 hours. WRANGLER was detached by AC 1 to proceed to Brisbane to fuel, and for onward passage to Manus.

 

 

July

 

1st

1015 hours. EURYALUS which was suffering from leaking boiler tubes which were estimated to require 48 hours to repair detached from TF 37 and proceeded to Manus.

Noon position 16-19S, 156-33E

1450 hours. TERPSICHORE and TEAZER joined TG 37.4, having been detached by AC 1 on account of their low percentage of fuel remaining.

 

2nd

0830 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out bombardment communication exercise with BLACK PRINCE.

1000 hours. KING GEORGE V carried out 5.25in throw off shoot, using BLACK PRINCE as a target.

Between 1030 and 1130 hours, destroyers carried out Rapid Open Fire Exercises.

Noon position 10-08S, 154-37E

Destroyers exercised manoeuvres during the afternoon and at 1500 hours, formed screening diagram No. 36 on KING GEORGE V.

2000 hours. The cruisers, having exercised independently during the day, carried out Night Encounter exercises which were completed at 2300 hours.

 

3rd

Bad weather postponed until 1000 hours the AA throw off firing which had been scheduled for 0800 hours. Fighters (from the 1st Carrier Squadron) carried out a strafing attack on the Fleet which had been disposed in a circular formation so as to exercise coordination of gun control.

Noon position 06S, 149-03E

1800 hours. Destroyer BARFLEUR, which had suffered slight damage from prematures during the practice firing, was instructed to proceed ahead of

TF 37 to effect repairs at Manus.

 

4th

0945 hours. TF 37 commenced close range firing at sleeve targets towed by naval aircraft from Ponam Island, (MONAB IV, HMS Nabaron)

1100 hours. KING GEORGE V entered Seeadler Harbour, Manus, followed by the remainder of TF 37.

Waiting at Manus to join TF 37 was HMNZS ACHILLES who had just completed a refit in one of the floating docks in Seeadler Harbour.

 

5th

TF 37 was at Manus where they stored, ammunitioned, and fuelled in preparation for the forthcoming operation.

 

TF 37's  stay at Manus, which was of 36 hours duration, was taken up more or less completely by meetings to discuss the best way of utilizing the forces at our disposal and of adapting these forces to American methods when the British and American Task Forces were operating in company. A considerable amount of American operation orders was received on board the Flagship on arrival at Manus which, together with our own operational orders, had to be distributed to the Task Force before sailing.

 

6th

Early in the morning CTF 37 signalled COM US 3rd Fleet:

 

I hereby report Task Force 37 for duty with the 3rd Fleet. We are much looking forward to this out first operation under your orders.

 

0600 hours. TF 37, consisting of  KING GEORGE V (Flag of CTF 37 & VABPF), FORMIDABLE (Flag AC 1), VICTORIOUS, IMPLACABLE, NEWFOUNDLAND (Flag of CS 4), BLACK PRINCE, EURYALUS, ACHILLES, UGANDA, GAMBIA, BARFLEUR (Flag of RAD), GRENVILLE (Captain D4), UNDINE, URANIA, URCHIN, ULYSSES, QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUADRANT (Captain D 24), TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, TEAZER, WRANGLER and NORMAN sailed from Manus for Operations under Commander Third Fleet. UNDAUNTED was delayed owing to boiler defects and sailed at 1730 hours to join TF 37.

0730 hours. Sleeve target firing carried out with aircraft from Ponam Island.

Noon position: 01-09S, 148-17E

1330 hours. Carrier aircraft carried out simulated Kamikaze attacks on the Fleet.

1400 hours. TF 37 carried out an Air Warning and engaging exercise.

1550 hours. Fighter direction exercises were carried out.

 

7th

0430 hours. TF 37 carried out a night air interception exercise

1010 hours. KING GEORGE V, cruisers, and destroyers carried out A.A. throw off firing at aircraft provided by the carriers.

1120 hours. Commenced fuelling destroyers from KING GEORGE V and light cruisers UGANDA, NEWFOUNDLAND and ACHILLES.

Noon position:  03-12N, 153-04E

1545 hours. Whilst BARFLEUR was fuelling alongside KING GEORGE V, the Rear Admiral Destroyers took the opportunity of going on board KING GEORGE V for discussions with the Vice Admiral, Rawlings, CTF 37.

1900 hours. Destroyers WRANGLER and NORMAN detached to return to Manus.

 

8th

0855 hours. Aircraft from FORMIDABLE were flown off for gunnery, Kamikaze, height calibration and bombardment communication exercises.

1040 hours. A fighter direction exercise with aircraft flown off from the VICTORIOUS was carried out.

Noon position: 7-23N, 156-31E

2112 hours. TF 37 commenced maneuvering exercises by TBS.

 

9th

Between 0500 to 0830 hours course of speed of TF 37 was adjusted as necessary to pass large convoys and a number of single ships sailing in both directions and apparently en route for Eniwetok and Guam and vice versa.

0515 hours. A.A. throw-off shoots.

1015 hours. Dive bombing exercise with strafing attacks by fighters using live ammunition.  A height calibration exercise was carried out simultaneously.

1050 hours. Jackstays were rigged fore and after for aircraft from VICTORIOUS to practice message drops on to KING GEORGE V.

1100 hours. One aircraft carried out 'window' dropping exercises to practice radar operators in selection of target etc.

 

(Window was the British code name for strips of aluminium foil which were dropped from aircraft as a radar countermeasure. It is now known as Chaff)

 

Noon position:  13-28N, 157-26E

1725 hours. The Rear Admiral Destroyers, together with his communication officer and that of the 4th CS came on board for discussions with the CTF 37.

1830 hours. Air warning and engagement exercises were carried out.

 

10th

0830 hours. Aircraft practiced forming up and followed this up with an attack on the Fleet. Before the aircraft were flown on, another message drop exercise was carried out on KING GEORGE V.

Noon position:  19-10N, 158-54E

1240 hours. UNDAUNTED joined TF 37 and required topping up after a fast passage.

1345 hours. KING GEORGE V, FORMIDABLE and VICTORIOUS commenced fuelling BLACK PRINCE, UNDAUNTED and TENACIOUS.

1835 hours. The carriers practiced night deck landing training and two Avengers provided targets for a night air warning and engaging exercise.

 

11th

0900 hours. TF 37 carried out A.A. throw off firing.

Noon position:  24-58N, 159-59E.

1210 hours. A most realistic massed air attack on TF 37 was staged by carrier aircraft.

1810 hours. Night air warning and engaging exercise. During this exercise TF 37 took evasive action and the screen was ordered to make smoke as necessary.

2100 hours. TF 37, using an imaginary aircraft plot controlled by KING GEORGE V, carried out dummy blind fire exercise.

 

12th

0900 hours. TF 37 carried out sleeve target firings.

1030 hours. Fighter direction exercise carried out.

Noon position:  30-34N, 157-29E

1445 hours. TF 37 passed second oiling group, comprising oilers RFA WAVE MONARCH, MV SAN ADOLPHO and MV SAN AMBROSIO escorted by frigates FINDHORN and DERG and minesweeper HMAS GAWLER to the eastward, en route to the fuelling area.

1600 hours. Damage control exercise with concurrent emergency conning, steering, and communications exercises were carried out.

1900 hours. A night air warning and engaging exercise was carried out.

 

13th

0137 hours. TF 37 RVed with the first oiler group of DINGLEDALE, SAN AMADO, WAVE EMPEROR, escorted by frigates USK and BARLE.

0430 hours. TF 37 commenced fuelling and D.S.B. routine around the Fleet.

Noon position:  33-52N, 154-45E

1840 hours. TF 37 disengaged from the oiling force for the night.

 

14th

0113 hours. TF 37 detected by radar the US Logistic Group, TG 30.8 and course altered to pass to the Westward.

0400 hours. TG 37 re-commenced oiling.

1155 hours. The QUIBERON reported a sub contact. KING GEORGE V cast off from the oiler and the Fleet was turned 50 degrees to starboard.

1200 hours. The contact was reported as non sub and TF 37 resumed the oiling course.

Noon position:  35-08N, 152-31E

1210 hours. Because of trouble with fuel hoses, KING GEORGE V was changed over from the SAN AMADO to the WAVE EMPEROR to continue fuelling.

1837 hours. TF 37 disengaged from oiling force for the night. 

 

WAVE EMPEROR being empty was sent back south  to Eniwetok escorted by the BARLE as it was evident, as it had been throughout the planning stage, that the tanker capacity would be a most critical and anxious factor. In the event this move was to prove invaluable and justified the risk of moving one of our best oilers with a solitary escort. Fortunately, the submarine threat developed near the Philippines and not on the Eniwetok run.

 

15th

0545 hours. Recommenced oiling. KING GEORGE V fuelled from DINGLEDALE, and UGANDA from SAN AMADO thus completing the fuelling of TF 37, with the exception of some of destroyers who, by this time, required topping up again.

Noon Position:  35-49N, 151-36E.

1400 hours. TF 37 disengaged from oiling force and set course to RV with COM 3rd US Fleet.

1635 hours. The carriers carried out sleeve target firing.

 

16th

0430 hours. TF 37 sighted the US Task Force TF 38 to the westward and TF 37 maneuvered so as to pass to the eastward of the US Fleet which had by then commenced to oil.

 

TF 38 was in fact the US Third Fleet. The CinC of the US Third Fleet was Admiral Halsey who flew his flag in battleship USS MISSOURI. TF 38 consisted of three task forces TF 38.1, TF 38.3 and TF 38.4 and in total contained 17 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, 19 cruisers and 59 destroyers. Tactical command of TF 38 was exercised by Vice Admiral J.S. McCain flying his flag in the aircraft carrier USS SHANGRI-LA.

 

0710 hours. TF 37 altered course to close battleship USS MISSOURI (Flag of Admiral Halsey, CinC the US Third Fleet)

0745 hours. QUADRANT and TERMAGANT closed KING GEORGE V and FORMIDABLE respectively to transfer CTF 37 and AC 1 and their staffs to the MISSOURI for a conference with the Commander Third Fleet.

 

Admiral Halsey knew Rawlings and Vian only by their reputations, but he was reluctant to meet with them. The source of Halsey's reservation was the issue of full operational control of the British fleet. Without that control, he realized that the inclusion of the British in his command would be a difficult matter. He tried to rectify the issue with a message to Nimitz proposing that he use the British Pacific Fleet on the flank of U.S. naval forces. Nimitz rejected this proposal, as his agreement with Fraser and King that the British be self-sufficient made it impossible to accept Halsey's idea. Nimitz ordered Halsey to 'Operate TF 37 separately from TF 38 in fact as well as in name.' Nimitz was being rather legalistic in view of his agreement with Admiral Fraser.

 

Halsey began a conference of naval leaders aboard his flagship by explaining that the strikes against the home islands were designed to weaken enemy resources before the invasion started. Then he gave Rawlings three options:

 

1.    The British could operate as a component element of the fleet; Halsey would provide them with the orders he gave his US  

       detachments, which the British were strongly recommended to consider as 'suggestions.' That would allow the Allies to concentrate

       their power against the Japanese and make the British ships for all practical purposes a task force under U.S. command.

2.    Rawlings could operate as a semi-independent force separated by 60 to 70 miles of ocean from U.S. ships.

3.    The Royal Navy could operate totally on its own.

 

Halsey recalls that Rawlings never hesitated in his response: 'Of course, I'll accept number l.'

 

The British admiral impressed Halsey. A British liaison officer assigned to Halsey's ship observed, 'The day’s conversation in the Third Fleet flagship could not have been more cordial and at their end the fleet commander sent for me to tell me how confident he felt about the prospects of cooperating with the British.' The Royal Navy officers he met with felt the same way. Vian stated later that Halsey 'showed he was fully aware of our difficulties, and from that moment onwards, by kindly word or deed, he availed himself of every possible opportunity to offer encouragement and to smooth our path.’

 

0815 hours. C.S. 4 assumed tactical command of TF 37 during the absence of CTF 37 and AC 1.

1040 hours. Destroyer USS FRANK KNOX closed KING GEORGE V to transfer correspondence and operation orders.

1050 hours. To familiarize the Americans with the type of planes employed in the British Pacific Fleet, a 'recognition' flight of Seafires and Fireflies was flown over the ships of TF 38.

Noon position:  38-33N, 146-57E

1500 hours. A 'recognition' flight, this time by American type planes, was flown over TF 37 by TF 38.

1515 hours. CTF 37 and AC 1 returned on board their respective flagships.

1600 hours. TF 38 disengaged having completed oiling and with TF 37 in company set course for the flying off position (37-10N, 143-19E.).

 

On 16/7/45 the Potsdam conference, code name TERMINAL, commenced, in which amongst other subjects, the future prosecution of the war against Japan was discussed. On this day also the USA carried out the first atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico. On 17/7/45 President Truman received a message from Los Alamos, New Mexico, 'Babies born successfully,' code words meaning the atomic bomb test was a complete success.

 

17th

The mission of the US third Fleet, of which the British Pacific Fleet (TF 37 comprising one battleship, four aircraft carriers, eight light cruisers and 18 destroyers,) was now an integral unit, was:

 

1.       To reduce enemy tactical air forces.

2.    To attack strategic targets on the mainland.

3.    To explore Japanese defences in northern Honshu and Hokkaido.

4.    To destroy Japanese shipping.

 

These operations were to soften up the Japanese defences and undermine military and civilian moral in preparation for

Operation OLYMPIC, the invasion of Southern Kyushu.

 

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control of TF 37 and the cruiser radar pickets were detached to their stations.

 

The US third Fleet employed destroyers equipped with ADR Radar, known as Tomcats, as radar pickets. The BPF only had ADR (Aircraft Direction Radar) which provided range, bearing and height and incorporated a large vertical circular map that was transparent and which was covered with grid references of 360 degrees in some of the cruisers; so these were used as radar pickets. Since the radar pickets operated at least 50 miles from TF 37 it meant they were not available for their main function of AA defence.

 

0350 hours. In low cloud and poor visibility, when TF 37 was approximately 250 miles north east of Tokyo the first Ramrod of Fireflies, armed with 60lb rockets from IMPLACABLE and Corsairs from VICTORIOUS took off to attack the airfields in the Miyagi Prefecture including Sendai and Matsushima. The Ramrod crossed into Japan at the mouth of the Abukuma river.

 

(A Ramrod was a combined fighter-bomber mission whose primary goal was the destruction of a ground target.)

 

0630 hours. A Seafire CAP was launched from the IMPLACABLE.

0830 hours. Although the weather over Japan was good, in the launch area it had deteriorated so much that all flying was cancelled.

In the afternoon KING GEORGE V and destroyers QUALITY and QUIBERON detached from TF 37.

The remainder of TF 37 with TF 38 moved off south easterly.

AC 1 assumed tactical control.

1700 hours. KING GEORGE V, QUALITY and QUIBERON joined US Task Unit TU 34.8.2 comprising five battleships, two light cruisers, and ten destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger USN, flying his flag in battleship USS IOWA, to bombard the heavily industrialized Mito-Hitachi area of Honshu. The weather was overcast with rain; visibility was three miles so the shoot was conducted by Radar. The aircraft carrier USS BON HOMME RICHARD, who had embarked AI radar-equipped Hellcats, provided a night CAP for TU 34.8.2.

2310 hours. The bombardment commenced. No enemy opposition was encountered during the operation.

Battleships fired 1797 shells into the target area, of which KING GEORGE V contributed 267 x 14in shells and the five US battleships 1238 x 16" shells and 292 x 6" shells. Damage was caused to the Taga and Mito Works of Hitachi Manufacturing Company and the Yamate Plant and the copper refining plants of Hitachi Mine.

 

18th

0110 hours. The bombardment ceased and KING GEORGE V, QUALITY and QUIBERON detached at high speed to rejoin TF 37.

The weather in the flying off area was slightly better that the previous day.

0530 hours. The first aircraft from TF 37 flew off to carry out Ramrods against targets Northeast of Tokyo; the strike included the first Seafire Ramrod by 801 and 880 Sqds.

0730 hours. KING GEORGE V, QUALITY and QUIBERON rejoined TF 37.

At the end of the days flying TF 37 moved off south easterly towards the replenishment area.

CTF 37 assumed tactical control.

 

19th

TF 37 en route to the replenishment area.

 

20th

Early in the morning, in approximate position 31N, 150E, TF 37 RVed with Task Unit TU 112.2.6 which comprised oilers RFA WAVE MONARCH, MV SAN AMBROSIO and MV SAN ADOLPHO, victualling stores issue ship MV GLENARTNEY 9795grt, 18 knots, escort carriers ARBITER and STRIKER with replacement aircraft and airframes, escorted by NAPIER, NIZAM, PHEASANT, WHIMBREL, REDPOLE, FINDHORN and GAWLER; following which replenishment of the vessels of TF 37 commenced.

INDEFATIGABLE, escorted by destroyers WRANGLER and WAKEFUL arrived with TU 112.2.6 to join TF 37.

Replenishment continued throughout the day with TF 37 steering a south westerly course.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112.2.6.

 

21st

Early in the morning TF 37 RVed with Task Unit TU 112.2.6 and recommenced replenishment.

Replenishment continued throughout the day with TF 37 steering a south westerly course.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112.2.6.

 

22nd

Early in the morning TF 37 RVed with Task Unit TU 112.2.6 and recommenced replenishment.

Replenishment continued throughout the day with TF 37 steering a south westerly course.

Destroyer NAPIER detached from TU 112 and joined TF 37.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112.2.6 and steered north westerly at 23 knots towards the operational area off the island of Shikoku.

 

23rd

TF 37 en route to operational area.

 

24th

0300 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0345 hours. In approximate position 32N, 135E. The CAP was flown off and first Ramrod launched against the port of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku, a well defended target with around 200 AA guns

During the course of the day 416 sorties were flown of which 260 were against targets in the Inland Sea and the Islands of Shikoku, Kyushu and Honshu. In these sorties a Firefly of 1772 Sqd was the first British aircraft to overfly Tokyo; and an Avenger of 848 Sqd became the first British aircraft to bomb Japan.

A Ramrod of six Avengers of 849 Sqd from VICTORIOUS, two Corsairs from FORMIDABLE and two Fireflies from INDEFATIGABLE carried out a strike against shipping in Beppu Bay, Kyushu. During the sortie they located the escort carrier KAIYO 13,600 tons, in the north of the bay and carried out an attack in which she was hit by bombs from the Avengers. KAIYO was seriously damaged and driven aground by her crew to prevent her sinking.

 

This was the only attack on an enemy aircraft carrier carried out by the FAA in the war.

 

During the day the FAA had flown 131 CAP sorties and 284 Ramrod sorties dropping a total of 93 tons of bombs.
At dusk all aircraft were recovered and CTF 37 assumed tactical command and TF 37 steered easterly.

 

25th

0300 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0345 hours. The CAP was flown off and first Ramrod was launched. The targets were the same as the day before.

In the evening a group of bogies was intercepted approaching TF 37; they turned out to be Aichi B7A's, reporting name GRACE. Hellcats from FORMIDABLE intercepted the attackers, shooting down three and driving off the remainder.

At dusk, after all aircraft had been landed on, CTF 37 assumed tactical control and steered southerly towards the replenishment area, 'BRITISH TIZZY'.

 

26th

In the morning TF 37 RVed with Task Unit 112 which consisted of oilers HMS OLNA 12660grt, 16 knots (the OLNA was a new vessel and equipped for abeam refuelling), RFA's WAVE GOVERNOR 8190 grt, 15 knots and WAVE KING 8190 grt, 15 knots, MV CARELIA 8038 grt, 12 knots,  and MV GLENARTNEY, ammunition issuing ship MV ROBERT MAERSK 2294 grt, 14 knots, stores issuing ship MV CORINDA 3376 grt, 12 knots, and escort carriers CHASER, RULER and SPEAKER, escorted by light cruiser ARGONAUT, destroyers NORMAN and NEPAL, sloops CRANE, PHEASANT, WOODCOCK and REDPOLE, frigates ODZANI and DERG and minesweeper HMAS PIRIE. 

Following the RV the replenishment commenced.

KING GEORGE V refuelled from the OLNA by the abeam method.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night.

 

26/7/45 The Potsdam declaration, which was an ultimatum demanding the immediate unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Japan, was agreed by the President of the United States, the President of the National Government of the Republic of China, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The declaration ran to 13 clauses. Clause 13 stated 'We call upon the Government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces, and to provide proper and adequate assurances of their good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is complete and utter destruction'. The declaration was passed to the Japanese ambassador in Switzerland on 27/7/45. The Japanese, however, ignored the ultimatum, prompting President Truman to approve plans to drop atomic weapons on Japan.

 

27th

In the morning replenishment re-commenced.

KING GEORGE V reammunitioned from ROBERT MAERSK embarking 94 x 14in shells and 155 cordite cases. This was the first time a RN battleship had reammunitioned with heavy calibre shells whilst under way.

ARGONAUT joined TF 37.

HMCS UGANDA detached from TF 37 for Pearl Harbour then Esquimalt, Canada.

 

UGANDA detached from TF 37 and returned to Canada following the passing of Canadian legislation preventing service in Pacific by any personnel who had not volunteered for this duty.

 

At the end of replenishment TF 37 detached from TU 112 and steered north westerly back towards the operational area.

 

28th

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0400 hours. In approximate position 31-30N, 134E. The CAP was flown off and first Ramrod was launched. The targets were the port of Harima, attacked by 20 Avengers, and targets of opportunity, mainly in and around the Inland Sea. The naval base of Maizuru was attacked by fighters.

FAA aircraft sank coast defence ship No 4 in Ise Bay and the coast defence ship No 30 off Yura.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and CTF 37 assumed tactical command.

 

29th

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0400 hours. The CAP was flown off and first Ramrod was launched but was recalled when it was found that fog was obscuring the targets.

1200 hours. KING GEORGE V screened by destroyers UNDINE, ULYSSES and URANIA, and designated Task Unit TU 37.1.2, detached from TF 37 and steered northerly to RV with the US Task Unit TU 34.8.1., to carry out a bombardment of the city of Hamamatsu.

 

TU 34.8.1 was under the command of Rear Admiral John F Shafroth USN and consisted of battleships SOUTH DAKOTA, flag Rear Admiral Shafroth, MASSACHUSETTS, and INDIANA, 4 heavy cruisers and 10 destroyers. Aircraft carrier BON HOMME RICHARD was attached to provide a CAP and spotter aircraft. The city of Hamamatsu was a transport hub, with several important armament factories, including the Nakajima aircraft factory, Suzuki Motors et al. The target for KING GEORGE V was the Japanese Musical Instrument Company which was manufacturing propellers.

 

Before the bombardment commenced, destroyers URANIA and ULYSSES were in collision in which the ULYSSES sustained slight damage.

2319 hours. 20075 yards from her target, KING GEORGE V opened fire; she fired 265 x 14in shells, of which only seven hit the target.

During the bombardment the UNDINE twice opened fire on small groups of ships, which were probably fishing boats.

2356 hours. Fire was checked and KING GEORGE V steered east the southerly to rejoin TF 37.

 

This was the last time KING GEORGE V or any other British battleship fired their main armament ‘in anger'.

 

30th

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0400 hours. The CAP was flown off and first Ramrod was launched but the first strike was again confronted by fog over the coast. The targets for the day were airfields around Tokyo and the Maizuru naval base.

0600 hours. KING GEORGE V and destroyers UNDINE, ULYSSES and URANIA rejoined TF 37.

After the last aircraft had been recovered TF 37 set course southerly away from Honshu and towards the replenishment area. CTF 37 assumed tactical command.

 

31st

0900 hours. TF 37 RVed with TU 112 which consisted of oilers HMS OLNA, RFA's WAVE GOVERNOR and WAVE KING and the MV CARELIA stores supply ships MV GLENARTNEY and MV CORINDA, ammunition issuing ship MV ROBERT MAERSK, escort carriers CHASER, RULER and SPEAKER, the corvette converted to a radar and radio maintenance ship HMNZS ARBUTUS, escorted by destroyers NORMAN and NEPAL, sloops CRANE, PHEASANT, WOODCOCK and REDPOLE, frigates ODZANI and DERG and minesweeper HMAS PIRIE, in replenishment area, BRITISH TIZZY.

 

When GAMBIA and ACHILLES came upon the ARBUTUS they gave her a rousing welcome.

 

1000 hours. Replenishment commenced. The weather in the area was less than ideal, with a heavy swell running caused by a succession of typhoons to the east of the area. However, because the British were now mastering replenishment at sea (RAS) the weather did not affect the operation as much as it would have done just a few weeks before.

KING GEORGE V again refuelled by the abeam method and was able to take on fuel at 840 tons per hour. (KGV maximum fuel capacity 4100 tons, average capacity 3886 tons).

KING GEORGE V also reammunitioned, embarking 80 x 14in shells and 64 cordite cases from ROBERT MAERSK.

During the replenishment the Rear Admiral Destroyers (Rear Admiral Edelsten) was transferred by jackstay from BARFLEUR to the SPEAKER for passage back to Manus.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night.

 

 

August

 

1st

In the morning TF 37 continued with replenishment from TU 112.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night.

 

2nd

In the morning TF 37 continued with replenishment from TU 112.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night.

 

3rd

In the morning TF 37 continued with replenishment from TU 112.

On completion of the RAS, TF 37 set course northerly for the operational area.

 

4th

En route to the operational area a special signal was received from Fleet Admiral Nimitz to all units of the US third Fleet ordering them to cease offensive strikes and stay at least 300 miles from the coast of Japan and sail northerly.

 

During the day, destroyer USS BENHAM joined TF 37 she was carrying British Liaison Officers who had come to confer with Vice Admiral, Sir Bernard Rawlings about the forthcoming dropping of the first A Bomb.

 

5th

Sailing north easterly.

 

During the day the BENHAM detached from TF 37. As she was leaving Rawlings signalled, 'Very sorry to release the first American Man-of War I have had under my command'.

 

6th

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima

 

At approximately 0245 hours three B29 Superfortresses of the 509th Composite Group took off from the North Field airbase on the Island of Tinian. At 0815 hours over the city of Hiroshima (seaport, industrial centre and headquarters of the Japanese 2nd Armyposition 34-23N, 132-26E) one of the B29's, Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets dropped the first uranium-based Atom Bomb, code named LITTLE BOY. The effect of the blast was the equivalent of 12,700 tons of TNT. Fires destroyed a built-up area of about four square miles and huge damage was done outside that area. An estimated 140,000 people died from either the direct or indirect effects of the bomb.

 

0815 hours. TF 37 was steering a north easterly course in approximate position 34-30N, 146E, they were 770 miles west of the explosion.

0900 hours. TF 37 RVed with TU 112 which consisted of oilers RFA's WAVE KING and DINGLEDALE and MV SAN AMADO 7365grt, 12 knots, stores supply ships MV GLENARTNEY and SS FORT WRANGELL 7213grt, 10 knots, ammunition issuing ship MV ROBERT MAERSK, escort carriers ARBITER, CHASER and RULER, escorted by destroyers NORMAN and NIZAM, sloop PHEASANT, frigate BARLE and minesweepers HMAS BALLARAT and BURNIE.

1000 hours. TF 37 commenced replenishment.

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night.

 

7th

In the morning TF 37 continued with replenishment from TU 112.

Destroyer NIZAM detached from TU 112 and joined TF 37.

In the late afternoon TF 37 detached from TU 112 and steered north westerly towards the operational area.

 

8th

On arrival at in the operational area the weather was unsuitable for flying operations so TF 37 turned south easterly seeking better weather.

Due to the weather conditions no offensive action was carried out.

 

At 1700 hours Moscow time on 8/6/45 the Japanese ambassador to Russia, Naotake Sato was summoned to a meeting with the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Vyacheslav Molotov. At the meeting he was informed that at 1800 hours Moscow time, midnight 8/8/45 Japanese time, the USSR would declare war on Japan.

 

Within one hour of the meeting the Soviet army invaded Japanese-occupied Manchuria.

 

On 8/8/45 Admiral Halsey circulated advanced copies of his Operation Plan 10 - 45 for the initial occupation of Japan and setting up Task Force 31, the Yokosuka Occupation Force. The plan included a symbolic British Force comprised of seamen and Royal Marines.

 

9th

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

0400 hours. In approximate position 38-35N, 144-12E. The first CAP and Ramrods were launched. The target of the first Ramrod was the port of Matsushima.

0500 hours. TF 37 was in approximate position 39N, 145-30E and steering west south westerly when GAMBIA (flag Rear Admiral Eric James Patrick Brind), NEWFOUNDLAND and destroyers TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT and TERPSICHORE, forming Task Unit TU 37.1.8, detached from TF 37 to RV with US Task Unit TU 38.8.1.

Whilst flying over Onagawa Bay, a Ramrod led by Lieutenant Gray RCNVR, sighted a number of Japanese ships and dived in to attack. Furious fire was opened on the aircraft from army batteries on the ground and from warships in the Bay.

 

0920 hours. Lt Robert Hampton 'Hammy" Gray flying Corsair Mk IV KD658 115/X, from 1841 Squadron on FORMIDABLE selected for his target an enemy warship. He swept in oblivious of the concentrated fire and made straight for his target. His aircraft was hit and hit again, one bomb was shot off and the airplane caught fire, but he kept on. He pressed on to within fifty feet of the Japanese ship and let go his bomb. He scored a direct hit, hitting the AMAKUSA below the No. 2 gun platform and penetrating into the engine room before exploding. His target, the escort AMAKUSA, of the Etorofu Class, 870 tons, 3 x 4.7" and 4 x 25mm, sank almost immediately in position 38-26N, 141-28E, with the loss of 71 crew. Lieutenant Gray did not return from the mission.

 

On August 31, 1945, Lt. Hampton Gray was officially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and on November 13, 1945, he was further awarded the Victoria Cross. This was only the second VC awarded to the FAA in the whole war.

 

GAMBIA, NEWFOUNDLAND and destroyers TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT and TERPSICHORE forming TU 37.1.8 RVed with US TU 34.8.1 to carry out a bombardment of the Japan steel works and docks at Kamaishi.

 

TU 34.8.1 was under the command of Rear Admiral John F Shafroth USN and consisted of battleships SOUTH DAKOTA, flag Rear Admiral Shafroth, MASSACHUSETTS, and INDIANA, heavy cruisers CHICAGO, BOSTON, QUINCY and SAINT PAUL and 10 destroyers. US aircraft maintained a CAP over the force.

 

1254 hours. From an average range of 14,000 yards, the force opened fire. They made four passes and in total fired 803 x 16" shells, 1,383 x 8" shells and 733 x 6" shells. The bombardment caused more damage than the July bombardment and large quantities of pig iron were destroyed. The sounds of the bombardment were broadcast live on radio in the U.S.

1450 hours. The bombarding force checked fire and departed from the scene to return to their respective Task Forces.

During the retirement TU 37.1.8 was attacked by enemy aircraft, which were engaged by the ships of the Task Unit. GAMBIA was credited with shooting one down.

 

The atomic bombing of Nagasaki

 

0349 hours. Three B29 Superfortresses of the 509th Composite Group took off from the North Field airbase on the Island of Tinian. The first B29 to take off was Bockscar piloted by Major Charles "Chuck" Sweeney; this aircraft was carrying a Plutonium atomic bomb code named FAT MAN. The other two B29's were the Great Artiste and the Big Stink; both were carrying recording instruments, but Big Stink also carried two British observers, Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC and Professor William G. Penney.

 

0910 hours. Bockscar reached the RV and immediately spotted Great Artiste. The Big Stink was nowhere in sight. The two aircraft then circled for 40 minutes waiting for the Big Stink which failed to show.

 

0950 hours. Bockscar and The Great Artiste finally headed in the direction of Kokura. The Big Stink was nowhere to be seen. The additional 30 minutes that Bockscar and the Great Artiste took to wait ended up costing the mission clear, visual bombing conditions over Kokura. These crucial minutes saved Kokura from utter destruction and placed Nagasaki forever in the history books.

 

1020 hours. The two B29's arrive over Kokura. They found that visibility over the city was obscured by clouds and smog. Sweeney's orders were specific in that the atomic bomb had to be dropped visually on the target.

 

1132 hours. Sweeney made the decision to reduce power to conserve fuel and head for secondary target, Nagasaki, 95 miles to the south.

 

1156 hours. Bockscar and the Great Artiste arrive over Nagasaki.

  

1202 hours. FAT MAN explodes with a force of 22,000 tons of TNT.  Three shock waves were felt by both planes. Approximately 40% of Nagasaki was destroyed and out of a population of 270,000, approximately 70,000 people were dead by the end of the year.

 

Although the Big Stink missed the RV Group, Captain Cheshire and Professor Penney did see the Nagasaki detonation from the air at a distance.

 

1202 hours. At the time of the explosion TF 37 was approximately 880 miles to the north east of Nagasaki.

During the day the aircraft of TF 37 flew 137 CAP sorties and 258 Ramrod sorties dropping 105 tons of bombs.

At dusk following recovery of all aircraft CTF 37 assumed tactical control.

At approximately 2100 hours GAMBIA, NEWFOUNDLAND and destroyers TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT and TERPSICHORE rejoined TF 37.

 

10th

0330 hours. AC 1 assumed tactical control.

 

At 0230 hours The Japanese Supreme War Guidance Council held a meeting. After the meeting their readiness to accept the Potsdam Declaration was transmitted to the US Government through the neutral Governments of Switzerland and Sweden. The official reply of the US Government was received on the 13/8/45, but the Japanese learned the purport of the reply from a San Francisco broadcast on the 12/8/45. The Supreme War Guidance Council reconvened on the 13/8/45 and continued the meeting until late at night, discussing the American reply.

 

0400 hours. The first CAP was launched.

0500 hours. The first Ramrod was launched. The target was shipping in Onagawa Bay, and targets of opportunity in northern Honshu.

During the day aircraft of TF 37 flew 132 CAP sorties and 227 Ramrod sorties dropping 90 tons of bombs.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and CTF 37 assumed tactical command.

TF 37 withdrew to the east for replenishment.

 

11th

En route to replenishment area.

 

12th

In the morning TF 37 RVed with TU 112 and turned on to a south westerly course and commenced replenishment.

 

During the British Pacific Fleet's operations against the Japanese, Replenishment at Sea - RAS - was always a problem; but by mid August the supply situation had become critical. Also it had been planned that by mid August the BPF would return to Manus and if necessary to their main base at Sydney for repair, re-supply and rest. However, the indications were that the Japanese may well be about to surrender and Rawlings wanted to keep at least a token British Force in the area.

 

Admiral Nimitz' orders specified that the Allied fleets were to continue pressure on Japan until 13/8/45, a problem for both Halsey's Third Fleet and Rawlings' TF 37. Halsey's fleet needed resupply and rest, both of which could not be had at sea, and Rawlings' force was scheduled to return to Manus on the 10th.

 

Halsey's Third Fleet though didn't have any RAS problems since the USN had now built up a large and sustainable Fleet Train. In the event both Halsey and Rawlings compromised; Halsey retained most of the Third Fleet off Japan and Rawlings would keep a token force on station that would refuel from the US Fleet Train.

 

At dusk TF 37 detached from TU 112 for the night

 

13th

In the morning TF 37 RVed with TU 112 and commenced replenishment.

 

Mid morning, FORMIDABLE, VICTORIOUS, IMPLACABLE, BLACK PRINCE, EURYALUS, ACHILLES, GRENVILLE, UNDINE, URANIA, URCHIN, ULYSSES, QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH, QUALITY and QUADRANT detached from TF 37 and set course for Manus.

KING GEORGE V refuelled from US oiler the USS SABINE 7470 grt, 18 knots. Whilst KING GEORGE V was alongside SABINE, battleship USS MISSOURI (Flag of Admiral Halsey) went alongside the other side and as Halsey stated in his memoirs. 'I went across to 'the Cagey Five' as we called her, on an aerial trolley, just to drink a toast with Vice Admiral Rawlings.'

 

On completion of replenishment the remaining units of TF 37, namely, KING GEORGE V, INDEFATIGABLE, GAMBIA, NEWFOUNDLAND, BARFLEUR, TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, TEAZER, NAPIER, NIZAM, WAKEFUL and WRANGLER were re-designated TG 38.5 and were fully integrated into the US Third Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral John S McClain USN.

Around midday TG 38.5 turned on to a south easterly course.

 

During the day aircraft from INDEFATIGABLE carried out 21 Ramrod sorties against targets in the Tokyo area. They also flew 42 CAP sorties.

 

14th

TG 38.5 steering south westerly.

 

Early in the morning US aircraft dropped leaflets over Japan containing the Allied peace proposals; up to this time the Japanese population were not aware of these proposals. When this event was bought to the Emperor’s attention, fearing a backlash by the Japanese military, Hirohito convened an immediate meeting with Suzuki and his government. Following the meeting Hirohito asked the Swiss government to relay to the Allies a message stating that he had issued an Imperial Rescript that denoted Japanese acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration. The message also stated that he was ordering his commanders to cease fire and to surrender their forces, and to issue such orders as might be required by representatives of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, General MacArthur. The decision to accept the Potsdam Declaration and agreeing to surrender was broadcast by Domei Tsushinsha, the Japanese Federated News Agency.

 

At midday TG 38.5 was in approximate position 33-30N, 144E at which point they turned westerly and steered WNW towards Honshu.

 

1900 hours. President Truman announced that a cease fire was in effect, and that the war was over.

 

15th

TG 38.5 steering WNW towards Honshu.

Early in the morning INDEFATIGABLE was authorised to carry out a strike against kamikazes on Kisarazu airfield, 30 miles south of Tokyo.

Three Seafires of 887 and four Seafires of 894 Squadrons were assigned as escorts to six Avengers of 820 Squadron and four Fireflies of 1772 Squadron, for the dawn strike.

0545 hours. When the Ramrod was over Odaki Bay, they were jumped by ten Mitsubishi A6M5 (Zeke) and four Mitsubishi J2M Raidens (Jack) of the 302nd Kokutai. In the ensuing dogfight, the Seafires claimed seven shot down, three probable's and four damaged. While this was a confused action with some US Navy Hellcats flying nearby also joining in, it is very possible that Sub‑Lieutenant Gerry Murphy, who destroyed two Zeros, fired the last shots of the final dogfight of the Second World War. One Seafire and an Avenger were lost.

 

The pilot of the Seafire, Sub Lt. Fred Hockley RNVR, was captured and executed after the cease fire.

 

0900 hours. Admiral Nimitz signalled all US naval forces including TG 38.5:

 

'Japan has surrendered, cease all offensive actions, take all war time precautions for defence'.

 

Admiral William F. Halsey's cease fire order to the US Third Fleet, which included TG 38.5 was memorable, he signaled:

 

'It now gives me great pleasure to order all units of Magnolia (code name for TF 38) to cease fire.

However, fire on all enemy planes, not vindictively, but in a friendly sort of way.'

 

1120 hours. KING GEORGE V signalled TG 38.5 with a flag hoist 'End Hostilities and splice the Mainbrace'. This was just after INDEFATIGABLE had recovered her aircraft. As the signal was being hoisted a Japanese Yokosuka D4Y Judy aircraft came out of cloud and headed straight for INDEFATIGABLE. Fortunately he was followed by a US Corsair from the TF 38 CAP that shot him down and he splashed between INDEFATIGABLE and GAMBIA with bits of the crashed plane falling on GAMBIA.

 

Following this incident, all forces remained alert and CAP's were continued.

During the day 47 CAP sorties were flown.

 

16th

TG 38.5 remained on patrol approximately 150 miles southeast of Tokyo, replenishing as necessary from the USN Fleet Train.

Vice Admiral Rawlings addressed the ships companies of TG 38.5; his speech was also broadcast to the US Third Fleet.

 

On 16/8/45 the Admiralty sent the following message to all British naval vessels:

 

'The surrender of the Japanese Empire brings to an end six years of achievement in war unsurpassed in the long history and high tradition of the Royal Navy.

 

The phase of naval warfare which came to an end three months ago enriched the record of British sea power by such epic actions and campaigns as the Battle of the Atlantic, the domination of the Mediterranean, the maintenance of the Russian supply lines and the great combined operations of 1943 and 1944. The world wide story is completed with the inspired work by sea and air of the British Pacific Fleet and the East Indies Fleet. The Board are deeply conscious of the difficulty and novelty of the problems facing the British Pacific Fleet, the patience and skill with which they were overcome, and the great contribution in offensive power made by the Task Force operating with our American Allies. No less memorable is the work of the East Indies Fleet in the protection of India and Ceylon and in operational support of the Burma campaign.

 

At this moment our eyes are turned to the Far East and it is fitting to recall in remembrance those who gave their lives in the days of disaster in 1941 and 1942. To their relatives and to the relatives of all officers and men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and of the Naval Forces of the Commonwealth and Empire and of all in Admiralty service who have paid the full price of victory, the Board extend their profound sympathy.'

 

17th

TG 38.5 remained on patrol approximately 150 miles south east of Tokyo.

 

18th

Off the south coast of the Island of Honshu, TG 38.5 was joined by battleship DUKE OF YORK (Flag - CinC BPF Admiral Fraser) and destroyers WAGER and WHELP.

 

19th

TG 38.5 remained on patrol off Honshu.

 

On 19/8/45 Japanese delegates lead by Lt Gen T. Kawabe, who had become Vice Chief of the General Staff in April, plus fifteen other members arrived in Manila to discuss the surrender arrangements with General MacArthur. These arrangements included the entry of Allied warships into Tokyo Bay and for naval and marine forces to land in the vicinity of Yokosuka Naval Base on L-Day, which was scheduled for 26/8/45.

 

20th

TG 38.5 carried out a RAS.

 

Mid morning the high speed transports USS BAR, SIMMS and PAVLIC commenced the embarkation of British and Commonwealth seamen and Royal Marines who were to form the token Commonwealth force to be landed in Japan on L Day. BARR embarked approximately 160 from KING GEORGE V and GAMBIA, the SIMMS approximately 100 from NAPIER, NIZAM and GAMBIA and the PAVLIC 160 from GAMBIA and NEWFOUNDLAND.

 

L-Day had been originally scheduled for 26/8/45 but on 20/8/45, a threatening typhoon forced Admiral Halsey to postpone the landing date until 28/8/45. Allied ships were to enter Sagami Wan, the vast outer bay, on L minus 2. On 25/8/45, word was received from General MacArthur that the anticipated typhoon would delay Army air operations for 48 hours, and L-Day was consequently set for 30/8/45 and the entry of the Sagami Wan ordered for the 28/8/45.

 

23rd

In preparation for entry in Tokyo Bay, KING GEORGE V, INDEFATIGABLE, GAMBIA, NEWFOUNDLAND, BARFLEUR,TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, TEAZER, NAPIER, NIZAM, WAKEFUL and WRANGLER were re-designated TF 37.

DUKE OF YORK, WAGER and WHELP were designated TG 30.2.

 

26th

With a typhoon imminent in the area of the Third Fleet operations and with the losses that occurred in the typhoon of 18/12/44 in mind Halsey was not anxious to keep his ships, many of them small vessels crowded with troops, at sea in typhoon weather, and he asked and received permission from MacArthur to put into Sagami Wan one day early. Therefore the entry into Sagami Wan was bought forward to 27/8/45 and L-Day became 29/8/45.

 

27th

To facilitate the safe entry of the Allied Fleet into Sagami Wan, the Japanese were ordered to provide pilots. At 0800 hours the Japanese destroyer HATSUKAKURA with two Japanese emissaries, six interpreters, and thirteen pilots embarked, arrived off Sagami Wan and was met by destroyer USS NICHOLAS. The pilots were transferred to the NICHOLAS who then distributed them around the Allied Fleet; the pilots for the British ships were embarked on the WHELP. The Japanese emissaries were taken to meet with Rear Admiral Robert B. Carney, Halsey's Chief of Staff, and Admiral Badger on board MISSOURI to receive instructions for the surrender of the Yokosuka Naval Base and to guide the first Allied ships into anchorages. A problem that became apparent during the meeting concerned the sweeping of mines in the Uraga Strait at the entrance to Tokyo Bay. The Japanese had been warned as early as 15/8/45 to begin minesweeping in the waters in Tokyo Bay to facilitate the operations of the US Third Fleet. They said a lack of suitable minesweepers had prevented them from clearing Sagami Wan and Tokyo Bay.

 

In the morning TF 37 and TG 30.2 together with the US Third Fleet, guided by the local pilots, anchored in Sagami Wan. All ships were on the alert and ready for any treacherous move on the part of the Japanese, and battle ensigns were flown, but the entry was without incident.

 

KING GEORGE V had been continuously at sea for 52 days (since 6 July) and had steamed a total of 19,200 miles, a record for an RN battleship. 

All the aircraft carriers, except USS COWPENS, remained out at sea ready to launch air strikes if there was any sign of Japanese treachery. 

COWPENS and DesDiv 99 were detached to form TG 35.1.6, which conducted flight operations immediately off Sagami Wan during the afternoon.

 

At sunset there was a strange phenomenon. The setting sun appeared to descend squarely into the crater of Mount Fujiyama, the spectacle had such symbolism that anyone with a camera endeavoured to get photographs of it because it clearly told of Japan's fate.

 

INDEFATIGABLE and destroyers BARFLEUR, TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, TEAZER, WAKEFUL and WRANGLER remained at sea with TF 58 off the Japanese coast to the east of Tokyo, with her aircraft ready to respond to any Japanese treachery.

 

In the evening two British POW's hailed one of the US Third Fleet picket boats from the shore of Sagami Wan. They were picked up and taken on board light cruiser USS SAN JUAN, the command ship of a specially constituted Allied Prisoner of War Rescue Group. Their harrowing tales of life in the prison camps and of the extremely poor physical condition of the prisoners prompted Admiral Halsey to order the rescue group to stand by for action on short notice.

 

28th

At anchor in Sagami Wan.

 

0630 hours. US minesweepers REVENGE, TOKEN, TUMULT and POCHARD entered Uraga Strait and commenced to sweep north up the channel. The REVENGE thus became the first Allied ship to enter Tokyo Bay.

0900 hours. The minesweeping force was followed into Uraga Strait by TG 31, the Yokosuka Naval Base occupation force. TG 31 comprised light cruiser USS SAN DIEGO (Flag Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger USN), destroyers USS SOUTHERLAND, STOCKHAM, TWINING, YARNALL and WEDDERBURN and high speed transport USS GOSSELIN with photographers and members of the press embarked.

1300 hours. TG 31 anchored off Yokosuka. The Japanese Base commander Vice Admiral Michitaro Totsuka then reported aboard the SAN DIEGO and in conference with Rear Admiral Badger they completed the necessary arrangements for the actual occupation of the naval base.

 

29th   L-Day

0500 hours. TF 37 and TG 30.2 prepared to get under way from Sagami Wan to enter Tokyo Bay.

0545 hours. TG 30.1 comprising USS MISSOURI (Flag Admiral Halsey) screened by destroyers USS NICHOLAS, TAYLOR and O'BANNON entered Uraga Strait and proceeded into Tokyo Bay. TG 30.1 anchored off Yokosuka at 0920 hours.

0555 hours. TG 30.2 comprising DUKE OF YORK (Flag CinC BPF) and destroyers WAGER and WHELP entered Uraga Strait and proceeded into Tokyo Bay.

 

There was a strong feeling among the crews of the ships of the British Pacific Fleet that DUKE OF YORK, which had not fired a shot in anger in the Pacific, should not have the honour of leading the Fleet into Tokyo Bay.

 

The US TF 35 (including TG 35.90 Support Force) followed TG 30.1.

0620 hours. TF 37 comprising KING GEORGE V (Flag Vice Admiral 2ic BPF), GAMBIA, NEWFOUNDLAND, NAPIER and NIZAM entered Uraga Strait and proceeded into Tokyo Bay. TF 37 anchored off Yokosuka at 1030 hours.

 

As the Allied ships were entering Tokyo Bay they were covered by an air umbrella of hundreds of planes from the TF 38 carriers off shore. Even larger numbers of US land-based fighters and bombers from Okinawa and Iwo Jima patrolled the skies over the Japanese homeland.

 

The evacuation of POWs had been taken over as the function of the Supreme Commander General MacArthur. However the TF 38 carrier aircraft surveillance flights carried out at tree-top height with cameras had brought out a tremendous amount of detailed information about the conditions and health, etc of the Allied POW's. Therefore Admiral Halsey wanted to commence the recovery and evacuation at the earliest opportunity. But MacArthur had not approved the Navy's initial offer to start the evacuation as early as possible. However, the vast resources of the fleet hospital ships, evacuation vessels, food, clothing etc, were ready to swing into action. In the hope that the Navy would get the go ahead  to at least initiate action around the waterfront, Admiral Halsey  included the hospital ship USS BENEVOLENCE with the first group of ships to enter Tokyo Bay.

 

1200 hours. Following news of the condition of Allied POW's Fleet Admiral Nimitz authorized Halsey to begin POW rescue operations immediately.

 

1420 hours. On 29/8/45 Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz arrived in Sagami Wan from US Naval Air Base, Tanapag, Saipan, in a PB2Y Coronado seaplane. After landing he boarded battleship USS SOUTH DAKOTA which then became his flagship. After Nimitz embarked, she got under way and entered Tokyo Bay.

 

1300 hours. Light cruiser USS SAN JUAN, high speed transports USS GOSSELIN and REEVES and hospital ship USS BENEVOLENCE set course for the Omori POW camp which was situated on an artificial island off Tokyo. When the Americans arrived at the camp they found conditions unspeakable with evidence of brutality and wretched treatment. Under the command of Commodore Rodger W. Simpson USN they commenced immediate evacuation of the approximate 620 Allied inmates, of which about 230 were British, to BENEVOLENCE. The Americans also moved on to other camps in the Tokyo-Yokohama area.

1910 hours. The first RAMPs (Recovered Allied Military Personnel) arrived on board BENEVOLENCE and by midnight 739 men had been brought out.

 

30th

At anchor in Tokyo Bay.

 

The mission of the Fleet Landing Force, TG 31.3, that contained approximately 3000 seamen and marines from the US Third Fleet, 5400 marines of the US 4th Marines and approximately 420 British and Commonwealth seamen and marines; was to seize and demilitarize the Island Forts in the Uraga Strait and to seize and occupy Yokosuka Naval Base.

 

The landings had been based on an H-Hour for the main landing by the US 11th Airborne Division of 1000 hours, but last-minute word was received from MacArthur early on 30/8/45 that the first serials of 11th Airborne Division would be landing at Atsugi airfield at 0600 hours. Consequently, to preserve the value and impact of simultaneous Army-Navy operations, H-Hour was bought forward to 0930 hours.

 

0900 hours. The first British Troops, seamen and marines, landed from USS PAVLIC at Fort 4 at the entrance to Tokyo Bay. PAVLIC then moved on to Fort 2 where British troops landed at 1015 hours. At both Forts the white surrender flag was flying and a small group of soldiers were standing near the landing ramp with a surrender flag. The surrender of the Forts was supposed to be to the British, but the Japanese would only surrender to the Americans, so the Stars and Stripes were raised by the British landing party. The landing parties found coastal guns had been rendered ineffective and the few Japanese remaining as guides and interpreters amazed the British with their cooperativeness.

 

1040 hours. USS SIMMS landed her ANZAC troops on the island of Azuma Shima, which had been extensively tunnelled for use as a small boat supply base. Captain Buchanan RAN, CO of the NAPIER and Captain (D7) was the first ashore and accepted the surrender of the Island from the Japanese Naval Commander, who had been in charge of the base stores.

 

1100 hours. The USS BAR landed D Company, four Platoons from KING GEORGE V and one from the GAMBIA, of the British Landing Force at Yokosuka Naval Base. The landing force was under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Davis-Goff RNZN from GAMBIA and he took the surrender of that section of the Azuma Shima base from Commander Yuzo Tanno, officer-in-charge of naval stores.

 

In the afternoon USS PAVLIC re-embarked the British Landing Force from the island forts, and with evacuated Japanese personnel, landed them at the Navigation School in the Yokosuka naval base. The landing force then took over the area between Azuma Shima and the area controlled by D Company.

 

1030 hours. USS SAN DIEGO (Flag Rear Admiral Oscar C. Badger USN) tied up alongside in the Yokosuka Naval Base and Rear Admiral Badger accepted the surrender of the Naval Base from the Japanese Base commander Vice Admiral Michitaro Totsuka.

 

When Admiral Fraser was informed that evacuated British POW's were on board BENEVOLENCE he embarked on WHELP and took passage to her. On board BENEVOLENCE he spoke with the POW's and learned of the conditions they had endured during their captivity. Admiral Fraser having listened to their grim stories was clearly affected by what he had seen and heard. When he returned to the DUKE OF YORK he was mad at the Japanese for their treatment of the POW's. 

 

Escort carrier SPEAKER and frigate DERG arrived in Tokyo Bay from Manus. SPEAKER was without aircraft, having flown off all her aircraft to INDEFATIGABLE and RULER. She was however the first aircraft carrier to enter Tokyo Bay. SPEAKER was to be used for the evacuation of British and Commonwealth POW's. Within minutes of SPEAKER dropping anchor off the Omori POW camp, landing craft from the USS GOSSELIN came alongside to disembark POW's.

 

31st

At anchor in Tokyo Bay.

During the day heavy cruiser HMAS SHROPSHIRE, light cruiser HMAS HOBART and destroyers HMAS WARRAMUNGA and BATAAN arrived in Tokyo Bay.

 

On board USS MISSOURI Admiral Halsey's flagship, preparations were underway to host the formal surrender ceremonies on 2/9/45. MISSOURI had been selected since she was named after President Truman's home state.

 

 

 

September

 

1st

At anchor in Tokyo Bay.

 

2nd

At anchor in Tokyo Bay.

 

The surrender ceremony took place on USS MISSOURI, which was anchored in berth F 71, Tokyo Bay. It commenced at 0902 hours with an introductory statement by General MacArthur after which he directed the representatives of Japan to sign the two Instruments of Surrender. At 0904 hours Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed, followed two minutes later by General Umezu. General MacArthur then led the Allied delegations in signing, first Fleet Admiral Nimitz as United States Representative, then the representatives of China, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands and New Zealand.

 

The chairs that the delegates sat on were supplied from DUKE OF YORK.

 

0914 hours. Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser signed for the United Kingdom

General Sir Thomas Blamey signed for Australia

Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave signed for Canada

Air Vice Marshall Leonard M. Isitt signed for New Zealand.

Following a few brief remarks by MacArthur, the ceremonies concluded at 0925 hours.

 

During the surrender ceremony a massive flight of Hellcats and Corsairs from the US Task Group 38.1, which was cruising off the south coast of Honshu Island, flew overhead.

 

3rd

1300 hours. SPEAKER escorted by DERG with RFA WAVE KING in company sailed from off Omori POW camp with 477 British and Commonwealth RAMPs embarked. SPEAKER was the first vessel to sail down Tokyo Bay with RAMPs. Every ship she passed had cleared the lower deck and their crews were on the deck cheering and waving.

1400 hours. SPEAKER sailed past KING GEORGE V from whom she received a tremendous round of cheering.

 

5th

KING GEORGE V and the remainder of the British Pacific Fleet reverted to RN control.

 

8th

KING GEORGE V provided a Royal Marine detachment to mount a guard at the British Embassy in Tokyo.

 

17th

The Union Flag was formally hoisted over the British Embassy in Tokyo by a Marine from cruiser NEWFOUNDLAND whose Royal Marine detachment had relieved the Marine guard provided by KING GEORGE V.

 

 

 

Post War Notes

 

HMS KING GEORGE V remained in the Far East as part of the Pacific Fleet after the surrender. During the immediate post war period the ship was deployed in support of the allied forces in Japan and visited Melbourne for an R&R period in late 1945. She took passage to UK from Hobart in January 1946 with a call at Cape Town the next month. After arrival at Portsmouth on 6th March she became Flagship of the Home Fleet until 1950 when placed in Reserve.

 

Laid up in the Gareloch she was never re-commissioned and was placed on the Disposal List in 1957. Sold to BISCO for demolition by Arnott Young she was towed to Dalmuir on the Clyde to be de-equipped on 20th January 1958. Demolition was completed at Troon where she arrived during May 1959.

 

 

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