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War Diary (WD) Numbers & Parts Included
Extracted from ADM199/1478
War Diary No. 1
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No 1002/1 of 9/4/1945
Operation MERIDIAN having been completed the British Pacific Fleet arrived in Fremantle, under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO.
A Board of Inquiry was convened on board H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS to investigate the circumstances attending the unfortunate incident which occurred when the Fleet was attacked by torpedo bombers off Palembang and H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS sustained damage and casualties from our own ships’ gunfire.
On instructions from the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet, the Fleet was split into two groups before leaving Fremantle and group ABLE comprising INDOMITABLE (Flag of F.O.C.A.B.P.F.), ILLUSTRIOUS, INDEFATIGALE, ARGONAUT, BLACK PRINCE, GRENVILLE, UNDINE, UNDAUNTED, WAGER, and WESSEX sailed for Sydney.
The Flag of Vice Admiral Sir H. Bernard Rawlings, KCB, OBE, Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet was rehoisted in H.M.S. KING GEORGE V at 1600H.
Group Baker comprising H.M.S. KING GEORGE V (V.A.B.P.F.), VICTORIOUS, EURYALUS, KEMPENFELT, WHIRLWIND, WHELP, WAKEFUL, and URSA sailed for Sydney.
February 6th to February 10th
Owing to the fact that the Fleet had been split into two groups it was not possible to carry out full scale Fleet exercises as had been intended but a useful start was made, during this period, in exercising the use of American signal books which had been brought into the force before sailing and which were used throughout the passage.
Low cloud and poor visibility restricted the number of exercises that could be staged, but the following were carried out on passage:
(i). Low air approach with fighter interception and employing a cruiser as radar picket.
(ii). Fleet manoeuvres with ships conning from emergency positions.
(i). 14 inch throw short firing by H.M.S. KING GEORGE V.
(ii). AA throw off firings by H.M.S. KING GEORGE V, VICTORIOUS, and EURYALUS
(iii). Dive bombing exercise
(iv). Fire direction exercise
(v). Range and inclination exercise.
(c). AIR TRAINING
(i). Individual T/B training
(ii). Fighter section training
(iii). Navigation exercise
(i). 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. Manoeuvres were carried out daily by V/S, W/T. and R/T.
Group Able arrived Sydney.
Group Baker arrived Sydney.
At 1130 the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet arrived on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V where he met all Flag and Command Officers of the ships of the British Pacific Fleet.
February 12th to February 26th
The Fleet remained in Sydney where ships made good minor defects which had developed during nearly four weeks at sea, and the ships’ companies were given 48 hours local leave. See also Part II
Flag Officer Commanding 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron in H.M.S. INDOMITABLE together with INDEFATIGABLE, VICTORIOUS, ILLUSTRIOUS, QUICKMATCH, QUEENBOROUGH, and QUALITY sailed from Sydney for exercises and to fly on aircraft before making their rendezvous with V.A.B.P.F. and the remained of the British Pacific Fleet on 28th February. H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS had to remain behind as she had developed defects and had to be docked to remove her centre propeller before rejoining the Fleet later.
V.A.B.P.F. in H.M.S. KING GEORGE V together with CS 4 in SWIFTSURE, R.A.D.B.P.F., D4 in QUICKMATCH, D25 in GRENVILLE, D27 in KEMPENFELT, accompanied by HOWE, cruisers, and destroyers of the British Pacific Fleet sailed from Sydney for Manus – E.T.A. 6th March.
During February, the British Pacific Fleet arrived in the Eastern theatre proper on completion of its first operation – the attack on the oil installations at Palembang in Sumatra. A great deal of useful experience was gained during this operational period – manoeuvring the Fleet, flying off with four carriers together, getting accustomed to American dispositions and signaling procedure etc; flying exercises took place on every occasion when the weather allowed.
2. On arrival at Sydney all Flag and Commanding Officers of the British Pacific Fleet were formally introduced on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V to the Commander in Chief, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser, GCB, KBE, the First Naval Member of the Commonwealth Naval Board, Admiral Sir Guy Royle, KCB, CMG, and to the Flag Officer in Charge, Sydney, Rear Admiral G.D. Moore, CBE.
3. Formal calls were paid by the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, on his Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Lord Wakehurst, the Premier of New South Wales, Right Honourable M. McKell, and on the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman Neville Harding.
Invitations to all Flag and Commanding Officers were issued by His Excellency the Governor, the Flag Officer in Charge Sydney, the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City, and by the General Officer Commanding, General Plant and others. These were entertained on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V at various times thereafter, as were the Committee of the British Centre, whose day and night service in the co-ordination of the hospitality of Sydney was outstanding, and others who had played a similar part.
4. Whilst in Sydney a number of meetings were held to decide the many points which needed clearing up before the Fleet sailed for its advance bases, the subjects discussed including the Command and Administration of the British Pacific Fleet, oiling at sea, tactical procedure and future movements, communications, etc. These meetings were most valuable for we arrived there a Fleet assembled without any existing orders and organisation and with administrative arrangements scarcely in being: we start in fact from the letter “A” and in many ways with an unaccustomed alphabet to learn, but with the overwhelming advantage of a personnel whose backbone is accustomed to war, to keeping the sea, and to the unusual.
5. The greatest assistance was extended by all concerned ashore in Sydney and the Fleet’s requirements were met to the fullest extend possible.
6. The short call at Fremantle had given us a foretaste of how Australians regarded the entry of the White Ensign, in force, into the Pacific War. Our welcome at Sydney was universal and almost embarrassing hospitality there gave proof of feelings whose warmth is not easy to exaggerate. That fortnight will stand the Fleet in good stead during the coming months.
7. With ships as crowded as they must be, with limited water allowance and great heat, with tropical rain and a high humidity, the passage between Trincomalee and Australia had many days of discomfort; those conditions will probably be the rule rather than the exception as the Fleet follows the sun north in its forthcoming operations. These will entail periods of sea of an unusual length, but I have no doubt that officers and me will put with their discomforts in the way they always will when they know we are doing all we can for them. That passage however stresses the need for amenity and recreation when the occasion officers, not just as a pleasant thing to have but as a very necessary tonic and corrective, particularly should the British Pacific Fleet is relegated to duties in which the chances of fighting are small.
8. It is borne too upon my mind that it is imperative that the Dominions and Colonies should see more of His Majesty’s great ships and Fleets than they have done in the past; I can conceive of nothing which would so strengthen the essential ties and benefit both visitors and visited. In an age which many of those who will man our Fleet tend more and more to think that life in the main consists of the movies and security, a larger outlook comes to be over more desirable for our people.
There is too another aspect, for when all is said and done, there yet exists even in the most remote parts of our islands that old desire “go to sea” which has always appealed to the very best of our youth. In spite of the growing counter attraction of things mechanical both ashore and in the air, this unique legacy persists and can still give to the Navy precisely the type we need; those also who deal with the boy-sailor (for that is what most of them are) know well that “foreign parts” remain today a magnet and a fascination to many.
When these two feelings are confined mainly to moving between Portland, Invergordon, and the Home Ports or Services ashore in England, something is lost which as the youth grows older is replaced by a tendency to look on his Fleet as his placed of business and on his ship as a lodging between leave periods. That is not a healthy process; it is also one which will deflect those we need into other walks of life.
My talks with men and women of all types in Australia and what I know of the reactions of our men confirm me in the belief that there is much which these two not unworthy creations, His Majesty’s Navy and the British Empire, can do to help each other and our race.
Twice in one generation our eyes had been focused on the North Sea; it may be that in the coming years we can contrive, through the Navy, a wider vision and a strengthened kinship.
War Diary No. 2
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No . 1002/2 of 9/4/45)
Sydney to Manus, only some locations in text are shown
Whilst at Sydney, the British Pacific Fleet was allocated Task Force Numbers so as to conform with American procedure. The 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.
Tuesday 27th February
The First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, H.M.S. INDOMITABLE (Captain J.A.S. Eccles)(Flag of AC1 Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO), H.M.S. VICTORIOUS (Captain M.M. Denny, CB, CBE), and H.M.S. INDEFATIGABLE (Captain Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO), screened by H.M.A.S. QUICKMATCH (Captain D 4, Captain R.G. Onslow, DSO)(Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC, R.A.N.), H.M.A.S. QUIBERON (Lt Cdr G.F.E. Knox, R.A.N.), H.M.S. QUEENBOROUGH (Cdr E.P. Hinton, DSO, MVO), and H.M.S. QUALITY (LT CDR G.L. Farnfield, DSO) sailed from Sydney.
H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS (Captain C. Lambe, CB, CVO) remained in Sydney for docking to make good defects. The First Aircraft Carrier Squadron flew in squadrons from NOWRA and exercised night deck landing training in H.M.S. INDOMITABLE.
Wednesday, 28th February
The remainder of Task Force 113 under the command of Vice Admiral Sir H. Bernard Rawlings, KCB, OBE, 1st Battle Squadron, H.M.S. KING GEORGE V, Flagship of V.A.B.P.F. (Captain T.E. Halsey, DSO), H.M.S. HOWE (Captain H.W.U. McCall, DSO), 4th Cruiser Squadron, H.M.S. SWIFTSURE, Flagship of CS 4 Rear Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CB, CBE (Captain P.V. McLaughlin), H.M.N.Z.S. GAMBIA (Captain N.J.W. Williams-Powlett, DSC), H.M.S. ARGONAUT (Captain W.R. McCarthy), H.M.S. BLACK PRINCE (Captain D.M. Lees, DSO), H.M.S. EURYALUS, Flag of Rear Admiral (D) temporarily (Rear Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE)(Captain R. Oliver-Bellasis) the 25th Destroyer Flotilla, H.M.S. GRENVILLE (Captain D 25) Captain H.P. Henderson), H.M.S. ULSTER (LT CDR R.J. Hanson, DSO, DSC), H.M.S. UNDINE (CDR T.C. Robinson), H.M.S. URSA (CDE D.B. Wyburd, DSC), H.M.S. URANIA (LT CDR D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC), the 27th Destroyer Flotilla, H.M.S. KEMPENFELT (Captain D 27 – Captain E.G. McGregor, DSO), H.M.S. WAKEFUL (LT CDR G.D. Pound), H.M.S. WHIRLWIND (CDR W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, OBE, DSC), H.M.S. WHELP (CDR G.A.F. Norfolk), H.M.S. WESSEX (LT CDR R. Horncastle), also H.M.S. UNICORN (Acting Captain C.M. Merewether), sailed from Sydney in an easterly gale.
H.M.S. UNDAUNTED (LT CDR C.E.R. Sharp) remained in Sydney to make good defects and escort H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS later.
Communication by United States Navy books and methods were already in use by Task Force 113.
Bad weather prevented shore base aircraft from flying, so that sleeve target firings arranged for the Force were not carried out.
1st Carrier Squadron flew on her remaining aircraft from NOWRA.
Noon position 33-49S, 151-54E
Rendezvous was made with 1st Carrier Squadron and screen, and the whole fleet was then manoeuvred into Cruising Disposition No. (5 A) for the first time and without difficulty.
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.
Thursday 1st March
Carried out Visual Radar Control Air Defence Exercise. The weather was still rough.
Noon position 29-18S, 155-04E
Exercised tactical manoeuvring of the Fleet
EURYALUS and all destroyers carried out Radar Interrogation Exercises (INTX)
Fleet carried out Range and Inclination exercises on EURYALUS.
After dark 4th Cruiser Squadron carried out Night Encounter Exercise.
INDOMITABLE exercised night deck landing training.
FOIC Sydney’s Signal DTG 010122Z prefixed important, was received at 012130 K, and referred to U.S. Submarine S 43 sailing from Caloundra Heads at sometime, corruptly received, on 1st March. From the route given, it appeared that their submarine may well have been within striking distance of the Fleet before the warning signal was received and deciphered, and before restrictions could be imposed on the Fleet.
CCO Sydney signal DTG 022149Z was received at 030945K. This corrected the time of sailing from 0700 on 1st March to 0800Z 2nd March, but did not alter the ETA of the submarine at any other point of her route, inferring that a mistake had been made in the original warning signal.
It is considered most important that early and accurate information of the movements of friendly submarines be given to the Fleet.
CTF 113 signal DTG 021112Z, requested fuller information of such movements, was made because American signals were being received quoting U.S. Submarines in code named areas or positions not included in BPTM 05 of 16 February, 1945.
Friday 2nd March
Detached URANIA for Sydney in accordance with C in C 230433 February. The Fleet was expecting to rendezvous with WHYALLA escorting four tankers in position 24-50S, 155-10E at 0700K on 2 March.
At 1950K on 1st March, received and eventually deciphered WHYALLA’s DTG 010231 (incorrectly enciphered in Naval Cypher “M” which was a compromised table) and which contacted the wrong delivery groups.
This signal stated that owing to southerly set encountered, the Tanker Force would reach the rendezvous 12 hours late and gave its position course and speed at 0231Z on 1st March. The course of the Fleet was therefore adjusted to meet the tankers in their expected new position at 0700K on 2nd March. It spite of air and cruiser searches, they were not contacted until much later. At 1000K, WHYALLA and her tankers were found to be 78 miles south of 173 degrees from the original rendezvous and 31 miles 085 degrees from their proper rendezvous and 38 miles east of their position based on WHYALLA’s signal DTG 010231. When found the impression was that the Tanker Force would never have been located or noticed at all if all the ships had been the size of WHYALLA.
The Fleet was divided into two groups, the Main Body requiring no fuel, and the fuelling force of all cruisers and destroyers, placed under the Command of Rear Admiral Commanding 4th Cruiser Squadron. Screens for both forces were relieved as necessary, and fuelling was completed by 1700 by which time all destroyers and 5.25 cruisers had been topped right up and 6 “ cruisers had fuelled for exercise. The detailed fuelling program made by C.S. 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.
Meanwhile HOWE carried out Radar Splash calibration firing, and the carriers launched an air strike on the Fuelling Force with fighter protection controlled by VICTORIOUS and BLACK PRINCE.
Noon position. PM. 25-50S, 155-39E.
EURYALUS with ARGONAUT under her orders carried out V/T Fuse test firings.
Four 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. The necessity for a simple and quickly ordered means of detaching a counter attack of cruisers and destroyers is evident and is now being considered. It would however be undesirable to withdraw cruisers from their anti aircraft protection positions around the Main Body any earlier than is necessary for this purpose.
Saturday 3rd March
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 manoeuvred evasively and as necessary for flying off standby fighters to meet raids as they developed. On such occasions unnecessary and unrealistic confusion is caused to plots by aircraft which hover over the Fleet after completing their attacks; they should form up and remain well clear, but in sight of the Fleet.
Noon position 21-25S, 156-40E
Carriers exercised A.A. throw off firings. SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA carried out independent exercises. First 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.
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.
27th Destroyer Flotilla continued to shadow during the night.
Sunday 4th March
Noon position 15-02S, 156-32E
The temperature began to rise considerably, the weather being calm and sultry. GAMBIA carried out 6” Radar Splash Calibration firings, with photographic marking by SWIFTSURE. Detached UNICORN and screen of 2 destroyers.
Monday 5th March
Despatched QUICKMATCH to investigate radar surface contacts to eastward. Ships identified as U.S. SEABARB and Australian ALAGNE southbound. No warnings of these ships had been received.
Exercised Dummy Suicide attacks on the Fleet. Enemy Aircraft occasionally strafing with bursts short, attacked every ship in the Fleet in 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.
Noon Position 08-29S, 153-27E
HOWE carried out 14” Long Range Throw Short 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.
Altered course of the Fleet for 30 mins. To avoid Radar Contact. KEMPENFELT detached to investigate, identified ship as eastbound U.S.S. STRATFORD. No warning of this ship had been received.
Tuesday 6th March
UNICORN and screen rejoined the Fleet.
Carried out Visual and Radar controlled fighter direction exercise for Battleships, Cruisers, and Aircraft Carriers, 9 detected (n.b. hand written into record) by A.C.1, with Fireflies representing hostile snoopers, and 24 fighters, and 2 Avengers as friendly A/S patrol.
One Hellcat “ditched”, the pilot being recovered safely.
Noon Position 6-42S 148-32E.
Spoke H.M.A.S. SWAN, who requested permission to proceed – a courtesy sometimes forgotten these days. Formed Fleet into groups disposed astern for passage through the islands.
SWIFTSURE and GAMBIA carried out 6” throw off firings. Groups exercised emergency conning and communication.
Maintained A/S patrol and C.A.P. at readiness to deal with possible snoopers from Rabaoul.
1st B.S. , EURYALUS, and 4th D.F. carried out Radar Interrogation exercise.
It was hoped to operate night fighters from INDOMITABLE, but weather conditions were not suitable.
Wednesday 7th March
Detached UNICORN and screen to enter harbour at 1300. Carried out Air Defence Exercise to north eastward of Manus with 6 shore based Corsairs as Blue aircraft simulating torpedo, dive, suicide, and level bombers. When the signal from Manus was received to the effect that 8 aircraft were being provided, it was hoped that it might be a corrupt group for 80, but such hopes did not materialize, and in fact only 6 Blue aircraft took part.
A C.A.P. of 8 Hellcats and Jack of 8 Seafires were operated in defence of the Fleet. Whilst flying on aircraft after the exercise, one Hellcat crashed overboard from INDOMITABLE, but fortunately the pilot was recovered safe and well by the crash destroyer.
After the exercise, the Fleet divided into groups and entered Seeadler Harbour at Manus between 1300 and 1600.
War Diary No. 2
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/1 of 9/4/45)
1. This passage from Sydney to Manus provided most useful training for the Fleet.
2. UNICORN was retained in company with the Fleet whenever her limited speed of 18 knots permitted. She was no hindrance and joined in with Fleet work in an efficient manner.
3. Certain destroyers consistently burn more fuel than others. The cause of this is being investigated.
4. There is definite need for improvement in all ships to check their I.F.F. identification.
5. Air exercises and manoeuvres whilst the Fleet was in the recently adopted Cruising Dispositions 5 A, B, and C gave excellent opportunity of studying the problems of A.A. fire distribution and Fire Discipline generally.
As a result of this experience it will now be possible to lay down a definite policy with regard to the A.A. Defences of the Fleet at night, particularly in regard to the restrictions that must be imposed on ships being screened, in order to avoid damage from our own gunfire.
War Diary No. 3
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/3 of 10th April 1945
1. Task Force 113, under the command of Vice Admiral Sir H. Bernard Rawlings, KBC, OBE, and comprising the First Battle Squadron H.M.S. KING GEORGE V (Flag of V.A.B.P.F.), First Aircraft Carrier Squadron H.M.S. INDOMITABLE (Flag of A.C. 1), 4th Cruiser Squadron SWIFTSURE (Flag of CS 4), 25th Destroyer Flotilla H.M.S. GRENVILLE (Captain D 25), 4th Destroyer Flotilla H.M.S. QUICKMATCH (Captain D 4), and 27th Destroyer Flotilla H.M.S. KEMPENFELT (Captain D 27) arrived at Manus from Sydney on 7th March. H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS was left behind at Sydney to have her centre propeller removed, H.M.S. URANIA and H.M.S. UNDAUNTED remaining with her as escort to Manus on completion.
8th March to 11th March
2. During this period the fuelling of the Fleet was carried out, 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, H.M.S. 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 H.M.S. VICTORIOUS. Fuelling was successfully completed but not before H.M.S. INDOMITABLE had smashed one of her own 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 cocoanut 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.
3. During the period of 12th to 15th March various harbour exercises were carried out in addition to the sea exercises given below.
4, Destroyers, together with two cruisers, proceeded to sea for sleeve target firing, day torpedo attack exercises, and transfer of stores at sea exercises.
H.M.S. BLACK PRINCE and H.M.S. ARGONAUT proceeded to sea to carry out B.P.T. firings at a target towed by H.M.S. GUARDIAN but conditions were unsuitable and the practice was cancelled.
H.M. Ships INDOMITABLE, VICTORIOUS, and INDEFATIGABLE with a screen of six destroyers proceeded to sea for independent flying exercises. On completion the carriers returned to harbour having flown ashore a proportion of their Squadrons to Pityilu Island; arrangements had been made with U.S. Authorities for this to be done, the carriers landing the necessary personnel, etc.
H.M.S. STRIKER arrived.
H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS, accompanied by H.M.S. URANIA and H.M.S. UNDAUNTED arrived and proceeded to fuel in the Eastern Anchorage.
Three destroyers carried out AA sleeve firing.
Aircraft carriers, less H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS, proceeded to sea with a screen of six destroyers and carried out Air Direction and Reporting Exercise, Radar Height Calibration Exercise, and B.P.T. firings at a target towed by H.M.S. GUARDIAN.
Carriers carried out dusk and night air shadowing exercise followed by night encounter exercise with destroyers.
U.S. Ship RUSSELL F. CHITTENDEN. On arrival at Manus, some doubt was felt as to C.T.F. 113’s operational responsibility for the surrounding area and this was never entirely cleared up but when a report was received on 14th March that the U.S. Ship RUSSELL F. CHITTENDEN was aground and abandoned in position 5-55S, 148-10E, H.M.S. SPEAKER, on passage from Sydney to Manus, was instructed by W/T to look for survivors of the wreck. It was difficult to discover the details of the survivors or what was being done about it by the local authorities. H.M.S. SPEAKER searched with aircraft without success, eventually leaving H.M.S. PARRETT, one of her escorts, to continue the search. H.M.S. PARRETT was joined by S.S. ATLAS, who had previously sighted the wreck, and the survivors were recovered from an islet by H.M.S. PARRETT on 17th March. The position of the wreck was finally given as 08-26S, 1150-04E, 8 miles east of Konoknokana Island, the survivors being landed at Finschaven.
H.M.S. SPEAKER arrived
H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS sailed and joined A.C. 1 for exercises.
1st Battle Squadron proceeded to sea for exercises, but the receipt of messages from the Commander in Chief, 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 ICEBERG, changed the situation. All exercises were immediately cancelled and H.M.S. HOWE was ordered back to harbour whilst H.M.S. KING GEORGE V proceeded to get in V/S touch with A.C. 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 that 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.
8. The features of the departure 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 could be moved to the first fuelling area.
(d). Adjustment of aircraft between the carriers UNICORN, SPEAKER, and SLINGER so that the Fleet might leave as fully equipped as could be contrived.
9. The topping up of the Fleet continued and the operation orders which had been prepared in the rough were redrafted and brought up to date preparatory to issuing them to the Fleet.
CinC PAC replied to CTF 113’s signal reported the B.P.F. ready for service in his signal DTG 160602Z
10. H.M.S. SLINGER arrived.
At 2330, Captain E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN, Captain of the Fleet, left for Guam by air to discuss the forthcoming operations with CinC PAC.
In order to have the oiling force in position at the appointed time for the B.P.F. to top with fuel, as far forward as possible, before going on to strike in Sakishima Area, TU. 112.2.1 and TU 112.2.5 were sailed on the 17th. Former consisted of H.M. Ships STRIKER, CRANE, FINDHORN, WHIRLWIND, and the oilers SAN AMBROSIO, CEDARDALE, and SAN ADOLPHO, the latter comprising H.M. Ships PHEASANT, SPEAKER, and KEMPENFELT.
11. 0630. Battleships and cruisers, less H.M.S. BLACK PRINCE, screened by GRENVILLE, ULSTER, UNDINE, URANIA, and UNDAUNTED sailed from Manus for Ulithi. H.M.S. EURYALUS was delayed by a foul cable and a jammed cable holder, but rejoined the Fleet shortly. 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 with a screen of six destroyers and completed the passage to Ulithi as a separate body. H.M.S. BLACK PRINCE remained at Manus to complete the fitting of S.G. radar and sailed on 20th March. URSA also remained behind to dock for hull repairs.
0815. 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. H.M.S. EURYALUS dropped depth charges for practice.
1800. H.M.S. KING GEORGE V carried out Type 253 Interrogation tests of ships in company.
2130. Radar contact was obtained of TU 112.2.1 and TU 112.2.5.
12. The following exercises were carried out.
0830. H.M.S. KING GEORGE V and H.M.S. ARGONAUT – Range and Inclination Exercises.
1100. H.M.S. KING GEORGE V – 5.25 long range throw off firing at H.M.S. ARGONAUT.
H.M.S. SWIFTSURE damage control exercise.
12.00. H.M.S. EURYALUS – VT fuze test, throwing off at H.M.S. ARGONAUT. Owing to a number of early bursts, H.M.S. EURYALUS had to be ordered to cease fire and move further from the screen before resuming.
1400. H.M.S. HOWE – 5.25 Main armament control long range throw short firing at H.M.S. SWIFTSURE.
1600. H.M.S. KING GEORGE V – 5.25 Blind main armament control long range throw short firing at H.M.S. SWIFTSURE.
1730. H.M.S. KING GEORGE V and H.M.S. HOWE – VT fuze tests.
At 1000 H.M.S. EURYALUS reported a transport and landing craft convoy 25 miles on the starboard beam of the Fleet and at 1145 radar contact was obtained of several unknown ships, bearing 040 degrees, course 320, 9 knots. This was the first news of so large a body of ships (fifty plus) being in our vicinity.
0500 sighted a hospital ship on a similar course on the starboard bow. She drew clear to starboard of the screen.
0645. Sighted a U.S. destroyer bearing 90 degrees bound for Ulithi.
0700. Sighted a U.S. D.E. apparently on patrol. Nothing had been heard of these ships being at sea.
0730. Cruisers ordered to proceed 4 miles ahead for entering harbour.
0915. Cruisers entered harbour
0930. Battleships and destroyers entered harbour.
1000. Anchored in Southern Anchorage
1300. Aircraft carriers, screened by H.M. Ships QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUIBERON, QUEENBOROUGH, WHELP, and WAGER arrived at Ulithi.
Immediately on anchoring “Flash Red” (Aircraft Attack Imminent) was received. It came to nothing but later, having received details of a suicide attack recently carried out on the anchorage, in which one U.S. Carrier was hit, Fleet A.A. Stations were adjusted to suit.
21st to 23rd March
14. During this period final arrangements were made to complete fuelling and ammunitioning before the Fleet sailed for Operation ICEBURG. The fuelling was done by U.S. tankers, destroyers and cruisers proceeding alongside the tankers as detailed. The tankers serviced the battleships and carriers, fuelling commencing at 1800 on 20th March and completing pm. 22 March.
5000 fuzes Mark 40 were supplied by ComSerRon 10 to H.M. Ships KING GEORGE V, HOWE, ARGONAUT, and EURYALUS to replaced fuzes Mark 32. The supply was very promptly executed and U.S. Navy personnel advised and assisted ships’ staffs when carrying out the unfuzing and refuzing of ammunition.
H.M.S. BLACK PRINCE arrived at Ulithi at 1600 on the 22nd and fuelled before anchoring in her allotted berth.
Captain E.W.L. Longley-Cook returned on board a.m. on 21st March having flown from Guam to Ulithi and previous day. Besides providing useful preliminary liaison between the two Staffs, his discussion with CinC PAC and the information and operational data, not at that time received by V.A.B.P.F., which he obtained, simplified the preparation of the final operational orders in the short time available.
The same 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 the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, 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 H.M.S. KING GEORGE V to lunch and to meet him.
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 offices.
There was a continuous stream of intelligence and other material (flown by special plane from Guam), the arrival of which required hurried modification and remodification 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 22nd March, the boat shortage and the swell in no way assisting.
In spite of everything, the British Pacific Fleet, now designated Task Force 57, sailed from Ulithi at 0630 on 23rd March for Operation ICEBURG; three ships had cable holder jambs on leaving.
War Diary No. 3
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/3 of 10/4/45
Manus to Ulithi, only some locations in text are shown
This period under review is notable in that for the first time a principal if not the principal British Fleet has passed under the direct orders of an Allied Commander in Chief. Signals relating to this not unhistoric happening are attached as Appendix No. 1.
2. Before the Fleet arrived at Manus, a signal was received from the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet, indicated that the Fleet might not, after all, take part in operation ICEBURG and that an alternative allocation, possibly in General MacArthur’s area, was being tentatively discussed. This latter would have meant that the Fleet would not be in action until about the middle or end of April.
At period of 4 to 5 weeks inactivity in Manus’s unpleasant climate at a time when the Fleet and the aircrews in particular had been keyed up to believe that offensive operations were to take place in the very near future, would have done much to take the edge off a Fleet which at that time was at its keenest.
3. It was therefore suggested to the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet, on 9th March that, until such time as our future was finally decided, the best means of continuing Fleet training would be for the Fleet to carry out a minor offensive operation against an enemy held target. A strike again Truk was proposed to take place about 20th to 25th March, it being considered that this would not interfere in any way with U.S. activities. The proposal was referred by the Commander in Chief to the Admiralty who replied through the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet on the 11th March that no action was to be taken for the present.
The unpleasant period of waiting was ended on 14th March by the signals from the Commander in Chief, British Pacific Fleet which instructed the British Pacific Fleet to report to Com Fifth Fleet for duty in connection with Operation ICEBURG.
4. The decision that the Fleet was to be under Fleet Admiral Nimitz and was to take part in Operation ICEBURG gave immense and universal satisfaction, not only to ourselves but to every American Naval Officer and man whom we met. Talk runs pretty freely in Manus, and it had seemed to be generally know that our future was undecided and might lie not with Admiral Nimitz but with the Seventh Fleet. There is no doubt that the American Fleet personnel were strongly against the latter and indeed they regard the whole delay and circumstance with considerable indignation.
5. Every assistance possible was rendered by the U.S. authorities at Manus and Ulithi.
Fleet Admiral Nimitz I found had originally intended to come himself to meet us at Ulithi, but was laid up when the day came. Instead he sent us his Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral McMorris by special seaplane, who gave us on his behalf a very genuine welcome. I look on this as reflecting very exactly how matters stand we shall contrive to keep them at that level.
6. Observations on the facilities at Manus and Ulithi, particularly with reference to berthing and boat work are given below.
7. Manus is an amazing example of what the Americans accomplish when they set out to “plan big”.
After making full allowance to unlimited manpower means and an open cheque book, the fact remains it was conceived and carried out by men with great minds and drive. In passing I might mention that Manus at this time of the year possesses quite the most objectionable climate that I have ever known; it appears to improve but a little at any time. I found myself wondering therefore under what circumstance and by whose whimsical conception these unpleasant Island should have been named in honour of Their Lordships.
During the passage from Manus to Ulithi full advantage was taken of continuing Fleet Practices and it is considered that the Fleet sailed from Ulithi for Operation ICEBURG fully worked up as time and circumstances had permitted. This is however still much to learn.
Appendix No . 1 to Part II (n.b. not enclosed in transcription document).
N.B. OPERATION ICEBURG is covered in a separate document which is not available
On to Okinawa, only some locations in text are shown
ENCLOSURE TO COMMANDER IN CHIEF, BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET’s 457/BPF/825/OPS. DATED 30TH JUNE 1945
War Diary No 4
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/4 of 23rd June 1945)
Friday 25th May
The second phase of the ICEBURG operations having been completed, CTG 57 in H.M.S. KING GEORGE V with H.M. Ships TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, and TERMAGENT (n.b. this spelling used throughout. Correct spelling TERMAGANT.) detached from the remainder of the Fleet, and at 2200, set course for Guam. The rest of the Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, set course for the fuelling area before proceeding south for Manus and Sydney.
Saturday, 26th May
At 0118 obtained radar contact with the oiling force, bearing 162 20 miles, steering 260 at 9 knots. At 0930, speed was reduced to 12 knots to enable Field Charts of Guam harbour to be transferred to the three destroyers. Speed was increased again to 20 ½ know at 1010.
Noon position 20-04N, 132-08E
Altered course to 122 at 1700.
Sighted one Coronado aircraft on patrol at 1800.
Sunday, 27th May
At 0846 sighted one Coronado aircraft on patrol.
Noon position 16-01N, 138-49E
Reduced speed to 19 knots at 2000.
Monday, 28th May
0715 land in sight, reduced speed to 17 knots and altered course to 100 degrees. 0905 stopped one mile off Orote Point where all ships embarked pilots and the British Naval Liaison Officer to the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Acting Captain H.S. Hopkins, R.N. boarded H.M.S. KING GEORGE V. At 0920 entered Apra Harbour. 0940 H.M.S. KING GEORGE V secured to buoy whilst H.M. ships TROUBRIDGE and TERMAGENT proceeded to a tanker to fuel. H.M.S. TENACIOUS anchored and fuelled from tanker after H.M.S. TERMAGENT had finished topping up.
The Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet called on Admiral Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet immediately after arrival in Guam, and in the evening dined ashore at Admiral Nimitz’ invitation.
Tuesday, 29th May
At 1030, Admiral Nimitz came on board H.M.S. 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 offices and men from the 3 destroyers.
At 1630, an “At home” was held on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V, the invitation being extended by the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, Captain and Officers of the ship to the United the United States Authorities at Guam. The number attending had unfortunately 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, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, entertained Admiral Nimitz and other senior United States Officers to dinner on aboard H.M.S. KING GEORGE V.
Wednesday, 30th May
At 0700 H.M.S. KING GEORGE V left Apra Harbour, preceded by H.M. Ships TROUBRIDGE, TERMAGENT, and TENACIOUS, who formed A/S screen as soon as the harbour was cleared.
At 0715 set course 270 degrees 24 knots.
At 0835 altered course to 195 degrees and commenced zigzag.
Between 0850 and 1015, H.M.S. KING GEORGE V carried out long range and close range firings at two sleeve targets provided by CTG. 94.10. The destroyers carried out similar practices between 1030 and 1145. At 1200 H.M.S. TROUBRIDGE carried out firing at smoke burst target.
Noon position 12-10N 143-35E
At 1700 altered course to 190 degrees.
Thursday 31st May
At 0325 altered course to 145 degrees and resumed zig zag
Noon position 03-43N, 144-07E.
The Captain of the Fleet, Captain E.W. Longley Cook, was transferred to H.M.S. TENACIOUS for passage to Manus and thence to Sydney by air, so as to arrive before the Fleet.
Friday 1st June
At 0255 course was altered to 175 degrees, speed 22 knots.
At 0600 off Manus, in TBS touch with H.M.S. GRENVILLE.
At 0630, H.M. Ships TROUBRIDGE, TERMAGENT, and TENACIOUS were detached to Manus. Screen was then taken over by H.M. Ships GRENVILLE, UNDINE, URCHIN, and WESSEX. Speed was increased to 23 knots, course as requisite to pass through the off lying islands.
0720, passed H.M.S. TEAZER northbound to Manus.
At 1030 contacted R.F.A. DINGLEDALE and proceeded to fuel on course 185 degrees, speed 9 knots.
At 1100, H.M.S. GRENVILLE came alongside and transferred mail and correspondence.
Noon position 03-31S, 147-10E
At 1440 sighted H.M.S. CRANE southbound
At 1445 completed fuelling and course set for Viking Strait at 23 knots.
At 2100 passed H.M.S. IMPLACABLE and escort to port, northbound to Manus.
Saturday, 2nd June
At 0415 altered course to 125 degrees.
At 0730 altered course to 150 degrees.
Noon position 9-32S, 151-30E
At 1655 altered course 180 degrees, speed 22 knots.
At 2000 altered course to 170 degrees.
Sunday 3rd June
At 0700 altered course to 165 degrees
0900 passed H.M.S. BEGUM, northbound, who requested permission to proceed.
Noon position 18-13S, 153-17E
At 2100 altered course to 175 degrees
Monday 4th June
W.A.S. patrol provided by one Beaufort
0812 reduced speed to 20 knots.
Noon position 26-49S, 154-43E.
At 1700 altered course to 195 degrees.
Tuesday 5th June
W.A.S. patrol provided by one Catalina.
At 0658 reduced speed to 17 knots.
At 0730 altered course to 255 degrees
At 0920 reduced speed to 16 knots.
At 1115 altered course to 275 degrees
Noon position 33-47.5S 152-04E
At 1200 manoeuvred as necessary to close Sydney harbour entrance.
At 1420 destroyer took station astern
At 1440 embarked pilot and proceeded up Sydney harbour
At 1530 secured at No. 6 WOOLLOOMOOLOO.
War Diary No. 4
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/4 of 23rd June 1945
As Task Force 57 had been under the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet during the ICEBURG operations, it was a fitting and pleasant finish that the Flagship of the British Pacific Fleet was able to visit Guam to meet Fleet Admiral Nimitz and his staff. It was unfortunate that Admiral Spruance, the Commander Fifth Fleet, was unable to be there at that time.
2. 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.
3. On arrival at Guam, the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, accompanied by Captain E.O. Ewen, Senior United States Liaison Officer, Captain J.P.L. Reid, R.N., Chief of Staff, and Lieutenant Commander B. Bingham, U.S.N. , additional Flag Lieutenant lent for the Guam visit, called on Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Admiral R.K. Turner, (Commander Amphibious Forces), Vice Admiral J.H. Hoover (Commander Forward Area), Vice Admiral C.A. Lockwood, Jr. (Commander Submarine Force), Vice Admiral W.A. Lee (Commander First Battle Squadron) were also visited during the afternoon, all of whom returned the call on the following day.
4. In the evening a cocktail party was held at the Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet’s Headquarters to which senior staff and ship’s officers were invited, after which the Vice Admiral Second in Command British Pacific Fleet dined with Admiral Nimitz at his residence.
5. On the morning of 29th May, Admiral Nimitz, wearing “white undress”, came on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V where he inspected the Marine Guard of Honour, was introduced to Senior Staff and ship’s officers and afterwards addressed the ship’s company.
6. The press correspondents interview held that forenoon was less formidable than had been previously anticipated as a list of their questions together with the Chief Censor’s comments had been obtained beforehand and controversial subjects were successfully eluded.
7. The official trip round the Island, under the guidance of Major General H.L. Larsen, U.S. Marines, and the visit to other U.S. establishments, proved to be most interesting; a B 29 which had just returned from a raid on Tokio being inspected at the same time.
An immense amount of work has been, and is being, expended in developing air facilities of Guam for the prosecution of the war against Japan, facilities which will, at the same time, have considerable potential value in the post war economic development of commercial air lines in the Pacific. The layout and design will make it a very pleasant place.
8. About 100 representative officers from the more important staffs and establishments ashore attended a cocktail party on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V during the evening, and thereafter Admiral Nimitz and all other Flag and Field Officers present dined on board the Flagship.
Enclosure to 655/BPF/825/OPS of 11 August 1945
WAR DIARY No. 5
(Enclosure to VABPF No. 1002/5 dated 15th July 1945)
The main body of the Fleet Arrived in Sydney and commenced storing and making good defects, etc.
H.M.S. HOWE sailed from Sydney for Durban for refit.
The Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, and other Flag Officers present attended the Commander in Chief’s meeting to discuss the future employment and constitution of the Fleet.
The Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser Squadron, in H.M.S. IMPLACABLE, sailed from Manus for Operation INMATE.
14th and 15th June
Strikes on Truk carried out by TG 111.2
H.R.H. the Duke of Gloucester arrived on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V, inspected the Marine Guard of Honour and ships company, thereafter walking round the ship and visiting the wardroom, gunroom, and warrant officers’ mess.
Commander Hutchinson, Staff Officer Operations to the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, Commander Smeeton, Staff Officer Air Plans, Commander Lewin, Staff Fighter Direction Officer, both on staff of the Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, together with Captain Ewen, U.S.N.L.O., with the Pacific Fleet left Sydney by air for Leyte , to discuss forthcoming operation with the Staff of Commander Third Fleet.
Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester honoured the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, with their presence on board H.M.S. KING GEORGE V for luncheon.
Staff officers from the staffs of the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet and the Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron returned from Leyte.
The Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, and the Chief of Staff had the honour of dining with Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.
Sydney units of TF 113 consisting of H.M. Ships, KING GEORGE V (wearing the Flag of the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet), FORMIDABLE (wearing the flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, GAMBIA (wearing the flag of the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser Squadron), BARFLEU (wearing the Flag of the Rear Admiral Commanding, Destroyers, British Pacific Fleet, VICTORIOUS, BLACK PRINCE, GRENVILLE (Captain 24th Destroyer Flotilla), UNDINE, ULYSSES, URANIA, UNDAUNTED, URCHIN, WRANGLER, and WESSEX took departure from Sydney Heads for passage to Manus.
WAR DIARY No. 5
(Enclosure to VABPF No. 1002/5 dated 15th July 1945
The object of the main body of the Fleet returning to Sydney after the ICEBERG operation was to facilitate the storing of ships, repair the carriers’ battle damage, boiler clean, and generally store for the next operational period.
2. After an absence of over three months, 62 days of which were spent in the operating area and 24 days storing ship, etc., in the unpleasant climate of Manus, Ulithi, and Leyte where recreational facilities were non-existent or impracticable on account of distance, the sight of Sydney Bridge on the return was a very pleasant experience. Four days’ leave was granted to each watch whilst in Sydney, the resultant invasion being quickly dispersed by the hospital Australians accommodated in their own homes a large percentage of the libertymen for the period of their leave.
3. H.M.S. EURYALUS spent her replenishment period at Brisbane where the reported that local authorities had done everything possible, insofar as their limited resources permitted, to meet the ship’s repair and storing requirements during this period. A very warm welcome was given by the people of Brisbane to the first cruiser of the British Pacific Fleet to visit that port.
4. H.M., H.M.C. and H.M.N.Z. ships SWIFTSURE, ACHILLES, UGANDA, NEWFOUNDLAND, IMPLACABLE, TROUBRIGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, and TEAZER remained at Manus before proceeding on Operation INMATE on 10th June. The object of this operation was to neutralize the air installations in the enemy held island of Truk, at the same time providing battle experience for newly joined units of the British Pacific Fleet. These strikes took place on the 14th and 15th June – H.M.S. RULER acting as a spare deck for H.M.S. IMPLACABLE.
5. The period in harbour at Sydney was just sufficiently long for the ships’ staffs to make good many defects, etc. which had developed during nearly 3 months’ constant steaming. Unfortunately, H.M.S. INDEFATIGABLE’s repairs could not be completed in time and the Fleet had to proceed to sea for the initial stages of the July – August operation with only three carriers.
6. On the staff side, there were frequent meetings with the Commander in Chief and the various Flag Officers to discuss the broad principles of the next operation, details of which had been obtained by staff officers from the Vice Admiral, Second in Command, British Pacific Fleet, and the Vice Admiral Commanding, First Aircraft Carrier Squadron, during their visit to the Commander Third Fleet at Leyte.
7. Ships which were able to complete defects in time were sailed to Jervis Bay for sea exercises, including bombardment practices, and for deck landing and air training for the reconstituted air squadrons. All these ships, except the carriers, came into Sydney to top up with fuel before sailing for Manus.
War Diary No. 6
(Enclosure to VABPF No. 1002/6 of 10th September 1945
PART I (n.b. not shown in document)
Sydney units of Task Force 37 were split into the following groups so as to facilitate individual practice requirements:
TG 37.1 KING GEORGE V (VABPF)
TG 37.2 FORMIDABLE (AC 1) and attendant destroyers (WESSEX, WRANGLER) with IMPLACABLE, VICTORIOUS, TERPSICHORE, and TEAZER joining on passage
TG 37.3 BLACK PRINCE with EURYALUS, UGANDA, and NEWFOUNDLAND joining on passage.
TG 37.4 BARFLEUR (RA (D)), QUIBERON, GRENVILLE, URANIA, UNDINE, URCHIN, UNDAUNTED, 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 with 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 the destroyers was the determining factor.
1030 – Destroyers carried out sleeve target firing.
1145 - KING GEORGE V, GAMBIA, and BLACK PRINCE carried out long and close rang AA firing position in 75 degrees South Head, 10 miles. The sleeve targets were towed by Naval Aircraft from N.A.S. NOWRA.
1000 – KING GEORGE V carried out range and inclination exercise 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 – EURYALUS joined CS 4 from Brisbane.
0300 – Radar contact was obtained with a group of ships bearing 280 degrees, 21 miles. These were identified as QUICKMATCH, QUIBERON, QUALITY, QUADRANT who, to ease the fuelling situation, had been sent previously to fuel before proceeding independently from there to join AC 1 and relieve WESSEX and WRANGLER.
Owing to sea conditions, the calibration firing arrange for KING GEORGE V had to be canceled. During the forenoon, however, the following exercises were carried out:
Bombardment communication exercises – KING GEORGE V and EURYALUS
Dummy Air Reporting Exercises – with cruisers.
Noon position 22-46S, 156-07E.
1200 – IMPLACABLE, accompanied by TEAZER and TERPSICHORE, joined AC 1, NEWFOUNDLAND and GAMBIA joined CS 4. These ships sailed from Manus.
1800 – CS transferred his flag from GAMBIA to NEWFOUNDLAND
1930 – Commenced night encounter exercise. For this exercise, KING GEORGE V was assumed to be a damaged battleship, with three 6” cruisers in company, returning to base. The attacking force under RA (D) consisting of TG. 37.4 with BLACK PRINCE and EURYALUS.
2040 – Exercise completed.
WESSEX was detached by AC 1 to return to Sydney. WRANGLER proceeded to Brisbane to fuel, and for onward passage to Manus.
1015 – EURYALUS having reporting leaking boiler tubes which were estimated to require 48 hours to repair, parted company and proceeded to Manus.
Noon position 16-19S, 156-33E
1450 - TERPSICHORE and TEAZER joined TG 37.4 having been detached by AC 1 on account of their low percentage of fuel remaining.
0830 – KING GEORGE V carried out bombardment communication exercise with BLACK PRINCE.
1000 – KING GEORGE V carried out 5.25 throw off shoot, using BLACK PRINCE as target.
Between 1030 and 1030, the destroyers carried out Rapid Open Fire Exercises.
Noon position 10-08S, 154-37E
Destroyers exercised manoeuvres during the afternoon and at 1500 – formed screening diagram No. 36 on KING GEORGE V.
2000 – cruisers, having exercised independently during the day carried out Night Encounter exercise which was completed at 2300.
Bad weather postponed until 1000 the AA throw off firing which had been scheduled for 0800. 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 co ordination of gun control.
Noon position 06S, 149-03E
1800 – BARFLEUR, who had suffered from slight damage from prematures during the practice firing, was instructed to proceed ahead of the Fleet to effect repairs at Manus.
0945 – The Fleet commenced close range firing at sleeve targets towed by naval aircraft from Ponam.
1100 – KING GEORGE V entered Manus Harbour, followed by the other groups as already formed.
The Fleet stored, ammunitioned, and fuelled in preparation for the forthcoming operation. These operations were greatly assisted on this occasion by a calm sea with no swell. Ships were able to fuel, ammunition, and store in their proper berths instead of having to find a temporary anchorage, out of the swell in the Eastern Anchorage.
The following signal was sent to the Commander Third Fleet reporting Task Force 37 was ready to proceed on operations:
“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.”
At 0600, KING GEORGE V (Flag of VABPF), FORMIDABLE (Flag of AC 1), NEWFOUNDLAND (Flag of CW 4), BARFLEUR (Flag of RA (D)), together with IMPLACABLE, VICTORIOUS, UGANDA, GAMBIA, EURYALUS, ACHILLES, BLACK PRINCE, GRENVILLE, UNDINE, URANIA, URCHIN, ULYSSES, QUIBERON, QUICKMATCH, QUALITY, QUADRANT, TROUBRIDGE, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT, TERPSICHORE, TEAZER sailed from Manus. UNDAUNTED was delayed by a boiler defect but was sailed at 1730 to catch up with the Fleet.
War Diary No. 6
(Enclosure to VABPF No. 1002/6 of 10th September 1945)
The sailing of the British Pacific Fleet from Sydney on the 28th June marked the commencement of its second operation in the Pacific under American leadership – this time under the Commander Third U.S. Fleet. The first objective of the operation was announced as a strike against airfields and installations in the Tokyo area. It is regrettable that H.M.S. INDEFATIGABLE’s departure with the Fleet had to be delayed on account of compressor trouble as, with H.M.S. INDOMITABLE refitting, only three carriers remained to make the initial strikes.
With the main Fleet base being at Sydney the task set for the British Fleet may be paralleled to sailing from Plymouth to strike Reo de Janeiro, with one fuelling by harbour tankers at St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands, and a second at sea en route.
2. The 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.
3. Storing, ammunitioning, and fuelling of the Fleet was accomplished in the time allotted thanks to the whole hearted endeavour of the Rear Admiral Fleet Train and the Commander Naval Base Manus. The logistic side of an operation is, I fear, not always appreciated but there can be no doubt that, taking into consideration the immense distances in the Pacific, this support plays not the least part in the prosecution of the war against Japan.
War Diary No. 7
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/7 of 1st October 1945)
0600 – Task Force 37, consisting of KING GEORGE V (Flag of VABPF), FORMIDABLE (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, sailed from Manus for Operations under Commander Third Fleet, UNDAUNTED was delaying owing to boiler defects and sailed later to join TF 37, WRANGLER and NORMAN accompanied TF 37 and returned later to Manus.
0730 – Sleeve target firing carried out with aircraft from Ponam.
Noon position: 01-09S, 148-17E
1330 – Carrier aircraft carried out Kamikaze attacks on the Fleet.
1400 – Air Warning and engaging exercise.
1550 – Fighter direction exercise.
0430 – Night air interception exercise
1010 – KING GEORGE V, cruisers, and destroyers carried out A.A. throw off firing at aircraft provided by the carriers.
1120 – Commenced fuelling destroyers, UGANDA, NEWFOUNDLAND, ACHILLES and KING GEORGE V acting as the “servicing” force.
Noon position: 03-12N, 153-04E
1545 – Whilst BARFLEUR was fuelling alongside, the Rear Admiral Destroyers took the opportunity of coming on board KING GEORGE V for discussions with the Vice Admiral, Second in Command.
1900 – WRANGLER and NORMAN detached to return to Manus.
0855 – Aircraft from FORMIDABLE were flown off for gunner, Kamikaze, height calibration and bombardment communication exercises.
1040 – Fighter Direction Exercise with aircraft flown off from VICTORIOUS.
Noon position: 7-23N, 156-31E
2112 – Commencing manoeuvring exercises by TBS.
0500-0830 – course of speed of the Fleet were 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 – A.A. Throw off Firings
1015 – Dive bombing exercise with straffing attacks by fighters using live ammunition. A height calibration exercise was carried out simultaneously.
1050 – Jackstays were rigged for and after for aircraft from VICTORIOUS to practice message drops on KING GEORGE V.
1100 – One aircraft carried out window dropping exercises to practice radar operators in selection of target etc.
Noon position: 13-28N, 157-26E
1725 – The Rear Admiral Destroyers, together with his communication officer and that of the 4th Cruiser Squadron came on board for discussions with the Vice Admiral, Second in Command.
1830 – Air Warning and engaging exercise.
0830 – 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 – UNDAUNTED joined TF 37 and requiring topping up after a fast passage.
1345 – Commencing fuelling BLACK PRINCE, UNDAUNTED, TENACIOUS from KING GEORGE V, FORMIDABLE, and VICTORIOUS respectively. BLACK PRINCE and TENACIOUS were topped up, all being low in fuel.
1835 – The Carriers practiced night deck landing training and two Avengers provided targets for a night air warning and engaging exercise.
0900 – A.A. Throw off firing.
Noon position: 24-58N, 159-59E.
1210 – A most realistic massed air attack on the Fleet was staged by carrier aircraft.
1810 – Night air warning and engaging exercise. During this exercise the Fleet took evasive action and the screen was ordered to make smoke as necessary.
2100 – The Fleet, using an imaginary aircraft plot controlled by KING GEORGE V carried out dummy blind fire exercise.
0900 – Sleeve target firings.
1030 – Fighter direction exercise.
Noon position: 30-34N, 157-29E
1445 – passed second oiling group, FINDHORN, GAWLER, DERG, SAN ADOLPHO, SAM AMBROSIO, and WAVE MONARCH, to the Eastward, en route to the fuelling area.
1600 – Damage control exercise with concurrent emergency conning, steering, and communications.
1900 – Night air warning and engaging exercise.
0137 – made contact with First oiler group, DINGLEDALE, SAN AMADO, WAVE EMPEROR, escorts, USK, BARLE.
0430 – commenced fuelling and D.S.B. routine around the Fleet.
Noon position: 33-52N, 154-45E
1840 – The Fleet disengaged from the oiling force for the night.
The following exercises were carried out during the day, using aircraft from RULER:
A.A. throw off firing by FORMIDABLE and VICTORIOUS
Height calibration exercise
Blind fire procedure exercise
A.A. close range firing by FORMIDABLE
0113 – T.G. 30.8, the U.S. Logistic Group was detected by radar and course altered to pass to the Westward.
0400 – Commenced oiling
1155 – QUIBERON reported a sub contact. KING GEORGE V cast off from the oiler and the Fleet was turned 50 degrees to starboard.
1200 – the contact was reported non sub and the Fleet resumed the oiling course.
Noon position: 35-08N, 152-31E
1210 – Owing to trouble with fuel hoses, KING GEORGE V was changed over from SAN AMADO to WAVE EMPEROR to continuing fuelling.
1837 – Fleet disengaged from oiling force for night. WAVE EMPEROR being empty was sent back to Eniwetok escorted by 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 U boat threat developed near the Philippines and not on the Eniwetok run.
0545 – Commenced oiling. KING GEORGE V fuelled from DINGLEDALE and UGANDA from SAN AMADO thus completing the fuelling of the Fleet, with the exception of some of the destroyers who, by this time, required topping up again.
Noon Position: 35-49N, 151-36E.
1400 – Fleet disengaged from oiling force.
1635 – Carriers carried out sleeve target firing.
0430 – TF 38 was sighted to the westward and the Fleet manoeuvred so as to pass to the eastward of the American Fleet which had by then commenced to oil.
0710 – Course altered to close U.S.S. MISSOURI, Fleet Flagship of Admiral Halsey, Commanding the Third Fleet.
0745 – QUADRANT and TERMAGANT closed KING GEORGE V and FORMIDABLE respectively to transfer V.A.B.P.F. and A.C. 1 and staffs to MISSOURI for a conference with the Commander Third Fleet.
0815 – C.S. 4 assumed tactical command during the absence of V.A.B.P.F. and A.C. 1.
1040 – U.S.S. FRANK KNOX closed KING GEORGE V to transfer correspondence and operation orders.
1050 – To familiarize the Americans with the type of planes employed in the British Pacific Fleet, a “recognition” flight was flown over ships of TF 38.
Noon position: 38-33N, 146-57E
1500 – A “recognition” flight, this time by American type planes, was flown over the Fleet by TF 38.
1515 – V.A.B.P.F. and A.C. 1 returned on board Their Flagships.
1600 – TF 38 disengaged having completed oiling and with TF 37 set course for the flying off position (37-10N, 143-19E.).
WAR DIARY No. 7
(Enclosure to V.A.B.P.F. No. 1002/7 of 1st October 1945)
On arrival at Manus the Fleet had reached the “forward” part of the Forward area and still had still a further 2300 miles to steam before the flying off position for the first strike could be reached. The further 10 days required for a passage North and the fuelling en route were most valuable, as a very intensive programme of exercises was carried out on passage. The programme was designed to exercise the Fleet in the types of attacks most likely to be encountered under forthcoming operational conditions, and it is considered that the Fleet arrived in the combat area in a fully worked up condition, live ammunition straffing attacks on the Fleet giving the necessary touch of reality to the exercises.
Message drops onto a forecastle jackstay by carrier aircraft were tried out for the first time in the B.P.F. and after, a few abortive attempts, worked reasonably well although it remains a somewhat precarious method of passing information as, even when the message bag catches the jackstay, it is liable to be carried over the side of the ship.
2. The meeting with Admiral Halsey on board U.S.S. MISSOURI on the 16th July enable British Staff Officers from A.C. 1 and V.A.B.P.F. to meet their American opposite numbers and discuss points which required clarification before the two Fleets sailed in company. This, the future was to prove, was I believe, but one side of the matter, more important was the fact that it enabled us to take the field with a feeling that we were to operation with and under the orders of those whom we now know personally, and already liked.