Area of British
Isles Inshore Campaign (see January 1945, Europe)
ATLANTIC - JANUARY 1945
Convoys - Convoys JW63
and return RA63 passed through a total of 65 ships
in the month without loss.
Monthly Loss Summary: 5 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 29,000 tons in the Atlantic from all
causes; 1 U-boat by USN in
EUROPE - JANUARY 1945
Royal Navy - Adm
Sir Bertram Ramsey, Allied Naval Commander, Expeditionary
Force, architect of the Dunkirk evacuation and with major
responsibility for the North African and Sicily landings
as well as command of Operation 'Neptune', was killed in
an air crash in France on the 2nd. Vice-Adm Sir Harold
Burrough succeeded him.
Western Front - As
fighting continued all along the borders of Germany, the
Battle of the Bulge ended. By month's end the Germans
were back to their start positions.
- Destroyer "WALPOLE"
was the last of the 18 old 'V' and ' W'
class vessels lost or not repaired in the war. Mined off
the Scheldt Estuary on North Sea patrol, she was saved
but went to the breakers.
Isles Inshore Campaign
(see map above) - As the campaign continued, there
were losses on both sides: 15th/16th - Off the
Clyde, Scotland on the 15th, "U-482" torpedoed a merchantman and badly
damaged escort carrier
THANE (not repaired and
laid up) ferrying aircraft from Northern Ireland. After a
long hunt the U-boat was sunk next day by frigate
"Loch Craggie" and sloops "Amethyst",
"Hart", "Peacock" and
"Starling" of the 22nd EG. 21st - After
torpedoing a merchant ship from a Thames/Bristol Channel
sunk close to Lands End by
escorting destroyer "lcarus" and corvette
Mignonette. 26th - "U-1172" severely damaged frigate "MANNERS" (constructive total loss) off the
Isle of Man and was sunk in the counter-attack by sister
ships "Aylmer", "Bentinck" and
"Calder" of the 4th and 5th EGs. 27th -
Further south in St George's Channel, and after attacking
Halifax/UK convoy HX322, "U-1051"
was sunk by frigates "Bligh",
"Keats" and "Tyler" of the 5th EG.
One U-boat was lost in UK waters, possibly mined off the
Moray Firth, and others were destroyed and damaged in
air-raids on Germany.
Eastern Front - All
along the Polish Vistula front the Russians started a
major offensive through Warsaw directed at Berlin.
Devastated Warsaw fell on the 17th and by the end of the
month they had gained a huge wedge of territory taking
them over the border of Germany to the River Oder
only 60 miles from the German capital. The Germans were
now cut off in East Prussia and some 1½ million
servicemen and civilians were evacuated by the end of the
war. To the south, the Eastern Allies continued to fight
their way through Czechoslovakia as the Russians
struggled to capture Budapest in Hungary.
Shipping War - E-boats
and small battle units continued operating out of Holland
against Allied shipping in the North Sea and English
Channel, and were now joined by Seehunde midget
submarines. The new craft enjoyed some success, but mines
remained the biggest problem for the Allies at sea.
Allied air and sea patrols and minesweeping kept all
these dangers under control.
Monthly Loss Summary: 12 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 47,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - JANUARY 1945
Eighth Army continued to push slowly forward on the
east near Lake Comacchio in preparation for the
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - JANUARY
3rd - The Royal
Navy suffered its last two submarine casualties due to
enemy action. On patrol to the north of Sumatra,
"SHAKESPEARE" surfaced to
engage a merchant ship. Hit by return gunfire and later
aircraft attack, she reached Ceylon, but was not fully
repaired. 16th - The last submarine sinking was on
or around the 16th. Minelayer
"PORPOISE" on patrol in the Malacca Strait
and minelaying off Penang, was probably sunk by Japanese
aircraft. (Some sources suggest the 19th.)
Burma - Only now
did the Chinese forces in the far north, pushing
on from Myitkyina reach the old Burma Road allowing the
Ledo Road link-up to be made. In the centre, 14th
Army fought on towards Mandalay throughout January and
February. In the south the Arakan offensive moved
on by a series of amphibious hops aimed at occupying
suitable sites for air bases to support the central Burma
campaign. 3rd/21st, Landings at Akyab & Ramree
Early on the 3rd, British and Indian
forces landed at Akyab from destroyers and smaller
vessels of the Royal, Australian and Indian Navies to
find the Japanese had gone. On the 21st more
British and Indians were landed on Ramree Island with
support and cover partly provided by battleship
Elizabeth and escort carrier
Ameer. The few Japanese resisted in their
usual manner into February.
Fleet Air Arm Attack on Palembang - As the British Pacific Fleet
transferred from Ceylon to Fremantle en route to Sydney,
Australia, successful strikes were made by aircraft from
Victorious on oil installations around Palembang, southern Sumatra on the 24th and
Adm Vian was in command.
Indomitable in the Far East 1944-45, a Photographic Record)
Philippines - Three years after the Japanese landed
Gulf on the
northwest coast of Luzon, Gen MacArthur's Sixth Army went
ashore early on the 9th, supported as usual by Seventh
Fleet. As the US forces spread out and headed south
towards Manila, a secondary landing was made at the end
of the month on Bataan Peninsula to stop the Japanese
falling back there as Gen MacArthur had done in 1942.
Kamikaze attacks continued to inflict heavy losses
throughout the region, mainly in ships damaged, but on
the 4th escort carrier "OMMANEY
BAY" on passage
to Lingayen was sunk off Mindoro. 5th-9th - Off
Lingayen, Australian heavy cruiser
was hit by kamikazes on the 5th, 6th, 8th
and 9th and finally had to be withdrawn.
Monthly Loss Summary: Very few Allied
merchant ships were lost in the Indian and Pacific Oceans
for the rest of the war
ATLANTIC - FEBRUARY 1945
Russian Convoys -
There was still no let up for the
Russian convoys. Although JW64 reached Kola Inlet
safely on the 13th with all 26 merchantmen, the
arriving corvette "DENBIGH CASTLE"
was torpedoed by "U-992" and
became a total loss. Four days later on the 17th,
return RA64 was ready to set out. Just off Kola
was sunk by sloop "Lark" and
corvette "Alnwick Castle", but later that day "LARK" was damaged by "U-963" and
also became a total loss. Corvette
then torpedoed by
"U-711" and blew up with only one man
surviving. Of the 34 ships with the convoy, one returned,
one went down to U-boats and on the 23rd,
straggler "Henry Bacon" was sunk by Ju88
torpedo bombers, the last success of the war by German
aircraft. The rest of the convoy arrived at Loch Ewe on
the 28th after a voyage made even more difficult by
violent storms typical of the northern waters.
22nd - In
operations against convoys south of Portugal, "U-300", one of a small number of U-boats
scattered across the North Atlantic was sunk by escorting
Monthly Loss Summary: 6 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 39,000 tons in UK waters, 3 escorts; 3 U-boats including 1 by US and
French escorts off Morocco
EUROPE - FEBRUARY 1945
Yalta Conference -
For a week early in the month, Prime Minister Churchill,
President Roosevelt and Generalissimo Stalin met at Yalta
in the Crimea. With the Russians advancing through
Eastern Europe and agreement on the future frontiers of
Poland and the division of Germany into four occupation
zones, the shape of much of post-war Europe was
determined. Stalin agreed to declare war on Japan once
the war in the west was over.
Western Front -
Starting from the north, the Allies began a series of
offensives aimed at breaking through the Siegfried Line
and destroying the German armies west of the Rhine.
British 21st Army Group, which in addition to the British
and Canadian Armies had the US Ninth temporarily
attached, began its moves on the 8th. The attacks towards
the Rhine went in from south of Nijmegen along the River
Maas to Aachen. The US 12th Army Group was the next to go
on the 23rd, with US First and Third Armies aiming for
the Rhine between Cologne and Koblenz.
Isles Inshore Campaign - U-boats still took a steady toll of shipping
in the inshore campaign and sank two corvettes, but a
number were lost, mainly to the Royal Navy: 3rd-17th
- Frigates "Bayntun", "Braithwaite",
"Loch Dunvegan" and "Loch Eck" of the
10th Escort Group patrolling north of the Shetland
Islands shared in the sinking of three U-boats in the
next two weeks. The first was "U-1279" on the 3rd, followed by "U-989"
on the 14th, and
on the 17th.
4th - Off the north coast of
was accounted for by 23rd EG frigates
"Loch Scavaig", "Loch Shin",
"Nyasaland" and "Papua". 9th -
Submarine "Venturer" on patrol off Bergen,
Norway sank a second U-boat when she torpedoed "U-864". The first was "U-771"
in November 1944. 16th - Attacking Scottish
coastal convoy WN74 off the Moray Firth, "U-309"
was lost to
Canadian frigate "St
John" of 9th EG. 20th - "U-208" attacked convoy HX337 in St
George's Channel between SE Ireland and Wales, and sank
escorting corvette "VERVAIN". The U-boat was then hunted down and
destroyed by sloop "Amethyst" of 22nd EG.
"Amethyst" became famous in "The Amethyst
Incident" involving the Chinese People's Army in
1949. 22nd - Off Falmouth, Bristol Channel/Thames
convoy BTC76 was attacked by "U-1004" and
Canadian corvette "TRENTONIAN" sent to the bottom of the English Channel.
was lost in the western Channel area to a
RAF Wellington of No 179 Squadron. 24th - During
the inshore campaign, 10 U-boats were sunk in the Lands
End area, three in February: "U-480" sank
a merchant ship from coastal convoy
BTC78 on the 24th and was hunted down and finished off by
frigates "Duckworth" and "Rowley" of
the 3rd EG.
27th - Three days later "U-1018" attacked BTC81 to be sunk by
frigate "Loch Fada" of the 2nd EG. On the same
detected by a USN Liberator and
sunk by "Loch Fada" again, working with
"Labuan" and "Wild Goose". Two more
U-boats were lost off Norway, one by accident and the
Air War - As the
Allied strategic bombing campaign against Germany reached
a peak, the RAF by day and the USAAF by night struck at
Dresden in mid-month. The controversial attacks caused
massive firestorms that killed in the region of 100,000
people, although even now there is little agreement on
the casualty figures.
Eastern Front -
Having penetrated into Germany the Russians pushed
out north towards the Baltic coast and southwest, so that
by the beginning of March they were establishing
themselves along the Oder-Niesse line of rivers. In Hungary,
Budapest finally fell on the 13th.
Monthly Loss Summary: 19 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 49,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - FEBRUARY 1945
12th - Attacks by
German explosive motorboats were made on shipping in
Split harbour, Yugoslavia, hitting a flak landing craft
and damaging cruiser "Delhi" laying alongside.
17th - Italian
battleship "CONTE DI CAVOUR", sunk in the 1940 Fleet Air Arm
attack on Taranto and salvaged but not recommissioned,
was finally destroyed in RAF raids on Trieste.
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - FEBRUARY
11th - Supporting
operations on Ramree Island, south of Akyab in Burma,
was hit by Japanese bombers and went into
reserve, the 153rd and last destroyer or escort destroyer
casualty of the British & Commonwealth Navies.
Pacific Fleet - Early
in the month, the BPF arrived in Sydney for
replenishment. Adm Fraser stayed ashore as C-in-C and his
number two, Vice-Adm Sir Bernard Rawlings in battleship
King George V (right - Maritime Quest), commanded the Fleet. Rear-Adm
Vian was Flag Officer, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron.
By this time nearly 60 ships of a diversity of types and
flags were ready for the Fleet Train under Rear-Adm D. B.
Fisher. BPF had been allocated Manus in the Admiralty
Islands as its intermediate base, which Adm Rawlings
reached by mid-March.
- On Luzon island, Bataan and Corregidor were taken,
but the Japanese held out in Manila until early March in
a struggle that wrecked the city. By now all the
Philippines were under American strategic control, but to
meet his promise to free all the islands Gen MacArthur's
forces made amphibious landings on many smaller ones
through to April. On some, especially Luzon, fighting did
not end until the Japanese surrender in August.
Islands - With Adm Spruance now back in command of
Fifth Fleet, the next assault was on the tiny island of
Iwo Jima, south of Japan, needed as an air base to
support the USAAF strategic bombing campaign. Landings
took place on the 19th, but before this eight square mile
volcanic island was secured in mid-March, 6,000 US
Marines and most of the 21,000 defenders were dead. On
the 21st, escort carrier "BISMARCK SEA"
by kamikaze attack offshore.
ATLANTIC - MARCH 1945
Russian Convoys - As Russian convoy JW65
approached Kola Inlet with 24 merchant ships on the 20th,
waiting U-boats sank two and "U-716" sank sloop
"LAPWING" of the escort. Return RA65
set out on the 23rd and all 25 ships got through to the
Orkney Islands on the last day of the month.
Monthly Loss Summary: 4 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 27,000 tons in the Atlantic from all
causes, 1 sloop; 1 U-boat by USN off Nova Scotia
EUROPE - MARCH 1945
Western Front - In
March the Allies not only reached the River Rhine all
along its length, but by the end were across in strength.
At the beginning of the month, the British 21st and US
12th Army Groups were still trying to reach the west bank
and by the 10th stood along most of its length from
Nijmegen down to Koblenz. By a stroke of good fortune,
the bridge at Remagen was found intact on the 7th and
units of US First Army rushed over. Further south still
the rest of US Third Army on the 14th, followed by the US
Seventh, started to clear the west side of the river
further down from Koblenz south to Karlsruhe, surrounding
and taking the Saar region in the process. This was
achieved in less than two weeks. Between the 22nd and
31st, from north to south the Allied armies crossed the
Rhine and moved further into the Reich. British
21st Army Group aided by paratroop drops crossed
around Wesel, US First Army pushed out
from the Remagen salient, US Third Army crossed
around Mainz, US Seventh Army near
Mannheim, French First Army north of
Karlsruhe. The Germans were also about to lose the Ruhr
industrial centre as US Ninth Army circled to the north
and US First to the south.
Isles Inshore Campaign - The campaign continued: 7th - "U-1302" successfully attacked Halifax/UK
convoy SC167 in St George's Channel, but after a long
search off the coast of western Wales was sunk by
Canadian frigates "La Hulloise",
"Strathadam" and "Thetford Mines" of
the 25th EG. 10th/12th - Deep minefields laid by
the Royal Navy to protect UK inshore waters from the
U-boats claimed two victims. On the 10th, "U-275"
was lost in the English Channel off
Beachy Head. Two days later, the deep minefields damaged "U-260" off Fastnet Rock, southern
Ireland, and she had to be scuttled. 12th-29th - Three
more U-boats went down close to Lands End, starting with "U-683" to frigate "Loch
Ruthven" and sloop "Wild Goose" of the 2nd
EG on the 12th.
"U-399" followed on the 26th, sunk by
frigate "Duckworth" and other ships of 3rd EG.
Then on the 29th, "U-246" torpedoed and badly damaged Canadian
frigate "TEME" (constructive total loss), but was then
hunted down and sunk by "Duckworth" and the 3rd
EG. 14th - South African frigate "Natal"
on passage off the Firth of Forth, Scotland in the North
Sea sank "U-714". 21st/22nd - Two U-boats were lost
off the north coast of Ireland. The first was "U-1003" damaged by Canadian frigate
"New Glasgow" of the 26th EG on the 21st and
later scuttled. Next day, "U-296" was
lost to RAF aircraft of No 120
Squadron. 27th/30th - The frigates of 21st EG were
split into two divisions, and sank three U-boats in the
Hebrides area. On the 27th, "U-965"
was sunk by Hedgehog off the northern
end of the islands by the 'first' division -
"Conn", accompanied by "Deane" and
"Rupert". The same day further south, "U-722" went down to the 'second' division
- "Byron", "Fitzroy" and
"Redmill". The 'first' division of 21st EG,
still off the northern end of the Hebrides, sank "U-1021" on the 30th. One more
U-boat was lost to US aircraft in southern UK waters and
two to the RAF on Northern Transit Area patrols, but now
the Allied air-raids were really starting to bite. In
Germany around 12 boats, completed or in service, were
destroyed in the month mainly by the USAAF on the night
of the 30th.
German Heavy Warships
- The end of the remaining German big ships was in sight.
Battlecruiser "GNEISENAU", out of service since 1942 and now hulked,
was scuttled as a blockship in Gdynia (Gotenhafen) on the
27th. Light cruiser "KOLN"
was sunk at Wilhelmshaven by Allied
bombing. Only two pocket battleships, two heavy and three
light cruisers remained, and most of these would survive
only a few more weeks.
Air War - As the
V-weapon attack on Antwerp continued, the last V-2 landed
on London on the 27th, by which time 1,000 rockets had
killed and wounded nearly 10,000 people in southeast
Eastern Front - By
the end of March the Russians had taken most of the
Baltic coast of Germany and Poland east of
the River Oder and captured Gdynia and Danzig. They were
now poised along the Oder-Niesse Line ready for the final
attack towards Berlin. To the south, the Eastern Allies
continued their progress into Czechoslovakia. In Hungary
the Germans made their last important counter-offensive
of the war around the Lake Balaton area. By mid-month
they had been stopped and the Russians drioe on towards
Shipping War - E-boat
laid mines continued to cause a high proportion of
Monthly Loss Summary: 23 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 84,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - MARCH 1945
18th - Two
ex-Italian torpedo boats and a destroyer minelaying off
the Gulf of Genoa were engaged by destroyers
"Meteor" and "Lookout". In the last
Royal Navy destroyer action of the Mediterranean, torpedo
boats "TA-24" and "TA-29"
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - MARCH 1945
Burma - On the central
front the attacking British and Indian divisions took
Mandalay on the 20th after a fierce struggle. As the
Japanese started to retreat, 14th Army pushed on south
towards Rangoon until early May.
Pacific Fleet - On
the 15th, Adm Rawlings signalled from Manus to Adm
Nimitz that the British Pacific Fleet was ready to join
Adm Spruance's Fifth Fleet. Now known as Task Force 57,
battleships King George V
and Howe, carriers
Victorious, five cruisers including the New
Gambia and 11 destroyers, two
Australian sailed for Ulithi to refuel. On the 26th
they were on station off the
Sakishima Islands in the Ryukyu group. Their mission
was to prevent the islands being used as staging posts
for Japanese reinforcements flying from Formosa to
Okinawa. BPF's main weapon was of course not the
battleships, but the Seafires and American-made Avengers,
Hellcats and Corsairs of the carriers' strike squadrons.
They started their attacks that day.
Indomitable in the Far East 1944-45, a Photographic Record)
ATLANTIC - APRIL 1945
United States -
Franklin Roosevelt died in America on the 12th and Vice
President Truman was sworn in as President of the United
States. Britain and especially Winston Churchill lost a
great friend who did so much to bolster the country at a
time when the British Empire stood alone and many
Americans were staunchly isolationist. Harry Truman was
soon faced with the decision whether or not to use the
A-bomb. Starting towards the end of the month, San
Francisco hosted an international conference to draw up
the constitution of the United Nations Organisation. 50
countries signed the UN Charter on 26 June.
29th, Russia/UK Convoy RA66, the Last
Convoy Battle of the War - Kola
Inlet bound convoy JW66 (22 ships) arrived safely
on the 25th with escort carriers
Diadem, Home Fleet destroyers and the 8th and
19th EGs all under the command of Rear-Adm A. E.
Cunninghame-Graham. Return convoy RA66 (24 ships)
set out on the 29th with JW66s escort, some of
which went ahead to clear the 14 U-boats waiting off the
Inlet. Frigates "Anguilla", "Cotton",
"Loch lnsh" and "Loch Shin" of the
19th EG accounted for "U-307" followed by "U-286", the last U-boats sunk by warships
of the Royal Navy. In the action, frigate "GOODALL" of the 19th EG was torpedoed by
"U-968" and went down with heavy loss of life.
She was the last major warship of the British and
Commonwealth Navies lost in the war against Germany. RA66
arrived safely in the Clyde on 8th May
Monthly Loss Summary: 5 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 32,000 tons in the Atlantic from all
causes, 1 frigate and 1 US destroyer off the Azores; 9 U-boats including
7 by USN off east coast of USA, off the Azores and in
EUROPE - APRIL 1945
Western Front -
American forces met at Lippstadt on the 1st and completed
the encirclement of the Ruhr, trapping a third of a
million troops. The vital industrial area was slowly
reduced and on the 18th the Germans surrendered.
Meanwhile the Allies broke out through Germany,
eventually to meet up with the Russians: British 21st
Army Group headed into northern Holland and Germany,
the Canadians taking Arnhem on the 15th and moving on
Emden. The British captured Bremen on the 26th and made
for Hamburg and the Baltic coast at Lubeck. US 12th
Army Group pushed into central Germany. Ninth
Army passed north of the Ruhr and reached the River Elbe
opposite Berlin by the 12th where it stopped. First Army
got to the Elbe at Torgau south of Berlin on the 25th and
was the first to meet the advancing Russians. Germany was
now cut in half. General Patton's Third Army swung south
and raced on to western Czechoslovakia and
northern Austria. US Sixth Army Group,
including the French First Army, occupied southern Germany
and headed for the north Swiss border and western tip of Austria.
In their advance, the Allies over-ran Belsen, Buchenwald
and Dachau revealing to the world the full horror of the
Nazi regime. The Russians had also captured similar camps
in the east.
Campaign - Throughout
the month over 40 U-boats were lost in and around the
waters of northwest Europe. The Royal Navy was directly
involved in 12 of
the sinkings: 5th - "U-1169" went down off the southeast coast
of Ireland in a deep-laid minefield in St George's
Channel. 6th/15th - Two U-boats were sunk in
Channel operations. The first, "U-1195",
ship from a convoy off
the Isle of Wight, and was lost to old escorting
destroyer "Watchman". The second was "U-1063"
on the 15th. Attacking a convoy off Start
Point, she was sent to the bottom off Land's End by
frigate "Loch Killin" of 17th EG. 8th-15th
- Four more U-boats went down to the south and
southwest of Ireland, two of them on the 8th. Frigates
"Byron" and "Fitzroy" of 21st EG sank "U-1001", and "Bentinck" and
"Calder" of 4th EG accounted for "U-774". Two days later "U-873" sailing from still uncaptured St
Nazaire attacked a UK-out convoy and fell victim to
escorting destroyer "Vanquisher" and corvette
"Tintagel Castle". The fourth loss off Ireland
was "U-285" on the 15th, sunk by frigates
"Grindall" and "Keats" of the 5th EG.
12th - Home Fleet submarines gained another
success when "Tapir" sank outward-bound "U-486" off Bergen, Norway.
- Two more were lost in the Irish Sea northwest of
Anglesey, Wales. "U-1024"
was disabled by the squid of frigate
"Loch Glendhu" of 8th EG on the 12th. Boarded
by "Loch More", she was taken in tow but
foundered. Over two weeks later, on the 30th, "U-242" was detected by a RAF Sunderland
of No 201 Squadron and sunk by destroyers
"Havelock" and "Hesperus" of the 14th
EG. 16th - "U-1274" attacked Forth/Thames convoy FS1784 off St
Abbs Head, SE Scotland, sinking one ship, but was then
lost to destroyer "Viceroy" of the escort. 21st
- Frigates of the 4th EG, "Bazely",
"Bentinck" and "Drury" sank "U-636" northwest of Ireland. Other
U-boats lost were: 6 to RAF and US aircraft in and around
the British Isles, 1 by accident and 2 more missing,
cause of loss unknown during the inshore campaign, 5 in
the Skagerrak and Kattegat, 3 of them by rocket-firing
Mosquitoes of RAF Coastal Command, and around 17
completed boats in air-raids on Germany.
End of the German
Surface Fleet - April saw the end of the German
Navy's remaining big ships. In RAF raids on Kiel early in
the month, pocket battleship "ADMIRAL SCHEER" capsized and heavy cruiser "ADMIRAL
HIPPER" and light
were badly damaged. A few days later
pocket battleship "LUTZOW"
was also put out of action at Swinemunde.
All three damaged ships were scuttled in the first week
of May. When Germany surrendered, three cruisers
survived. "Prinz Eugen" was used in
A-bomb trials in the Pacific, "Leipzig"
scuttled in the North Sea in 1946 loaded with poison gas
munitions, and "Nurnberg" ceded to
Russia. A dozen or so big destroyers also stayed afloat.
Eastern Front - As
the Eastern Allies fought through Czechoslovakia towards
Prague, Hungary was finally freed of the Germans, and the
Russians pushed into Austria, capturing Vienna on the
13th. To the north, as the Western Allies came to a halt
along the line of the River Elbe, the Russians started
the final, massive drive into eastern Germany from the
Oder-Neisse Line. They had surrounded the German capital
by the 25th and the Battle for Berlin got
Germany, The End of
Adolf Hitler - As the month drew to a close and the
Allies completed the destruction of the German Reich,
Heinrich Himmler tried to surrender to Britain and the
United States through Swedish intermediaries, but
anything short of unconditional surrender was refused. On
the 29th in his Berlin bunker, Hitler married Eva Braun
and nominated Grand-Adm Doenitz as his successor. Next
day Hitler and his wife committed suicide and Doenitz
became Fuehrer on 1st May.
Monthly Loss Summary: 14 British, Allied
and neutral ships of 50,000 tons in UK waters.
MEDITERRANEAN - APRIL 1945
Italy - The last
and decisive Allied offensive aimed at clearing the
Germans from Italy got underway with commando assaults
near Lake Comacchio on the 1st. In these operations the
Royal Marines won their only VC of the war. + Cpl Thomas
Hunter, 43 Commando, was posthumously awarded the
Victoria Cross for gallantry in action against
German forces on the 2nd. Eighth Army started towards the Argenta gap on the 9th, and by the 18th was through. US
Fifth Army moved on Bologna on the 14th and a week later
captured the city. British, Brazilian, Indian, New
Zealand, Polish, South African and US divisions of Fifth
and Eighth Armies then reached the River Po and raced
across the north of Italy. By the end of the month,
Spezia, Genoa and Venice had been liberated. Throughout
the campaign Italian partisans had waged a bloody war
behind German lines. Near Lake Como on the 28th, Benito
Mussolini and his mistress were captured and executed.
Since February senior German officers had secretly
negotiated with the Allies to end the war in Italy. On
the 29th April and without reference to Berlin, a
document of unconditional surrender was signed to take
effect from 2nd May. 13th - Torpedo boat "TA-45" was sunk by coastal forces off
Fiume in the northern Adriatic, the last major enemy
warship to fall to the Royal Navy in the Mediterranean.
INDIAN & PACIFIC OCEANS - APRIL 1945
Ryukyu Islands -
Okinawa was the main island in the Ryukyu group and half
way between Formosa and Kyushu. It was needed as a major
base for the coming, bloodiest invasion of all - mainland
Japan. The Japanese were committed to defending Okinawa
for as long as possible and with maximum use of kamikaze
attack. Under Adm Spruance and Fifth Fleet, the greatest
amphibious operation of the Pacific war started on the
1st with US Tenth Army including both Marines and Army
forces landing on the west side of the island. There was
little opposition to start, but by the time they had
taken the northern five-sixths of the island on the 13th,
bitter fighting was raging in the south, continuing
through April, May and into June. Air and sea kamikaze
missions led to heavy losses on both sides. The British
Pacific Fleet did not escape: 1st - Operating off
was hit by a
suicide aircraft but saved from
serious damage by the armoured flight deck. 6th -
Japanese launched the first of 10 'kikusui' (floating
chrysanthemum) mass kamikaze attacks which carried on
until June. US losses in men and ships sunk and damaged
were severe. On the 6th, British carrier
was hit. Damage was slight and she
continued in service, but this much-battered ship was
shortly relieved by
Formidable. BPF continued
attacking the Sakishima Islands as well as airfields in
northern Formosa, with short breaks for refuelling. The
Fleet sailed for Leyte on the 20th to replenish.
Indomitable in the Far East 1944-45, a Photographic Record)
Battle of the
East China Sea - Giant
battleship "Yamato", a cruiser and destroyers
sailed on a one-way mission for Okinawa. Overwhelmed by
aircraft of Fifth Fleet on the 7th, "YAMATO", the cruiser and four destroyers
were sent to the bottom southwest of Nagasaki.
Monthly Loss Summary: Pacific Ocean only
- 3 merchant ships of 23,000 tons