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HMAS Australia, heavy cruiser (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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3rd - The recently completed British fleet carrier "Indomitable" ran aground and was damaged off Kingston, Jamaica. She was due to accompany capital ships "Prince of Wales" and "Repulse" to the Far East as a deterrent to Japanese aggression. Her absence in December may have proved fatal to the two big ships.

Steps to War with Japan - Britain's limited naval deterrent to Japanese expansion, capital ships "Prince of Wales" and "Repulse" met at Colombo, Ceylon on the 28th, en route to Singapore. Without the fleet carrier "Indomitable" they had no ship-borne aircraft support.


Strategic and Naval Background

Britain and Dominions - Responsible for defending India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, northern Borneo, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, the Papua New Guinea/Bismarck Archipelago/Solomon Islands chain, and numerous island groups throughout the Indian Ocean and Central and South Pacific. Few forces could be spared from existing war zones to protect this vast spread of territory and its supply routes. Britain's main base was at Singapore with its two recently arrived big ships. Three old cruisers and some destroyers were in Malayan waters, and a few old destroyers at Hong Kong. By now the surviving seven cruisers and smaller ships of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Navies were back in the area.


Declarations and Outbreak of War - Because of the International Dateline, events that took place on the 7th in Hawaii as far as Washington and London were concerned, were already into the 8th in Hong Kong and Malaya. By the 8th: Japan had declared war on Britain and the US, and Britain, Australia, New Zealand had declared against Japan.




Allied Command - Early in the month, British Gen Wavell was appointed to command ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) forces responsible for holding Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.

20th - Submarine "I-124" minelaying off Darwin, northern Australia, was sunk by Australian minesweepers "Deloraine", "Katoomba", "Lithgow" and US destroyer "Edsall".




Battles of the Java Sea - ABDA's main naval force was commanded by the Dutch Adm Doorman and consisted of a mixed squadron of cruisers and destroyers for the defence of Java: heavy cruisers "Exeter" and the US "Houston", light cruisers "Perth" (Australian), "De Ruyter" and Java" (both Dutch), destroyers "Electra", "Encounter", "Jupiter", plus two Dutch and four American. They put to sea on the 26th on the news that invasion convoys were approaching. Failing to find them they headed back to Surabaya the next day, but before getting in, more reports arrived and the Allied force went out again towards a position to the northwest. The main battle started on the 27th at around 16.00 against the two heavy, two light cruisers and 14 destroyers covering the Japanese transports. Both Allied heavies opened fire at long range, but "Exeter" was soon hit and her speed reduced. In the resulting confusion one of the Dutch destroyers was torpedoed and sunk. As "Exeter" returned to Surabaya with the second Dutch destroyer, the Royal Navy destroyers went in to attack and "ELECTRA" was sunk by gunfire. Adm Doorman headed back south towards the Java coast and sent off the US destroyers to refuel. He then turned to the north with his remaining four cruisers and two British destroyers. By now it was late evening and "JUPITER" was lost, probably on a Dutch mine. "Encounter" picked up survivors from the first Dutch destroyer and shortly followed the Americans to Surabaya. The remaining four cruisers, now without any destroyers, were in action sometime before midnight and both "DE RUYTER" and "JAVA" blasted apart by the big Japanese torpedoes. "Perth" and "Houston" made for Batavia, further west along the north coast of Java. The next evening, on the 28th, "Perth" and "Houston" left Batavia and sailed west for the Sunda Strait to break through to the Indian Ocean. From Surabaya three of the US destroyers went east and eventually reached safety through the shallow Bali Strait. "Exeter's" draught was too great for this route and the damaged cruiser had to make for the Sunda Strait accompanied by destroyer "Encounter" and US destroyer "Pope. "

BattIe of the Sunda Strait - Late that evening "PERTH" and "HOUSTON" ran into the Japanese invasion fleet in the Strait and attacked the transports. They were soon overwhelmed by the gunfire and torpedoes of the covering cruisers and destroyers and sank in the opening minutes of the 1st March. A Dutch destroyer following astern suffered the same fate.

Later on the morning of the 1st March "EXETER", "ENCOUNTER" and "POPE" fought a lengthy action with a cruiser force to the northwest of Surabaya before they too succumbed.

Of the entire Allied force in the Java Sea, only three old US destroyers managed to get away.

Australia - Aircraft from four of the Pearl Harbor Strike carriers raided Darwin, Northern Territories on the 19th. One American destroyer and a number of valuable transports were lost.

South West Pacific - The ANZAC Squadron was formed in the South West Pacific from Australian cruisers "Australia", "Canberra" and old light cruiser "Adelaide", New Zealand light cruisers "Achilles" and "Leander", and the American "Chicago".

MARCH 1942

Philippines and Dutch East lndies - As the US and Filipinos struggled to hold on to Bataan, Gen MacArthur was ordered to leave for Australia. There he assumed the post of Supreme Commander, South West Pacific. The Java landings went ahead on the 1st and Batavia, the capital of all the DEI, fell. The Allied surrender was agreed on the 9th. On the 12th, northern Sumatra was occupied and the rest of March was spent consolidating the Japanese hold throughout the many islands. Japan's southern perimeter had been secured in less than four months.

APRIL 1942

Now it was the Allies' turn to establish a defence perimeter running from the Hawaiian Islands around to Australia and New Zealand. With most of the ANZAC forces in North Africa, it was left to the Americans to garrison many of the islands needed to protect the supply routes from the US to the two Dominions. By now they were occupying the Line Islands south of Hawaii as well as Samoa, Tonga, New Hebrides and New Caledonia. The Australians were reinforcing Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and New Zealanders landing in Fiji.

MAY 1942

Papua New Guinea and British Solomon Islands - Sailing from Rabaul, a Japanese invasion force headed for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea covered by light carrier "Shoho" and cruisers. Distant cover was given by a carrier strike force of two fleet carriers. From the Coral Sea, aircraft of US carriers "Lexington" and "Yorktown", with a support group including Australian cruisers "Australia" and "Hobart" searched for them. First success in the Battle of the Coral Sea went to the Americans on the 7th when their planes sank "SHOHO" off the eastern tip of New Guinea. Next day, on the 8th, more aircraft strikes put fleet carrier "Shokaku" out of action on one side and sank "LEXINGTON" and damaged "Yorktown" on the other. A draw in naval terms, the battle was a strategic defeat for the Japanese as the invasion ships turned back, leaving Port Moresby, so close to the north tip of Australia, safe for now.

JUNE 1942

Australia & New Zealand - The US Pacific Fleet was reorganised in June. Task Force 44 was allocated to Australian and New Zealand waters with Australian cruisers "Australia", "Canberra" and "Hobart", and the American "Chicago" under Rear-Adm V. A. C. Crutchley RN. Until the arrival of the British Pacific Fleet in early 1945, Australian and New Zealand ships were almost the only representatives of the White Ensign in the Pacific.

JULY 1942

Papua, New Guinea - After failing to took Port Moresby by sea at the time of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese planned to land on the north coast at Buna and Gona and advance overland by way of the Kokoda Trail. They landed on the 21st and moved south, just as the Australians were preparing to defend Kokoda itself and push north on Buna. The Japanese captured Kokoda on the 29th, and throughout August slowly pushed the Australians back south towards Port Moresby.  


Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands - The Japanese were now extending their hold in the southern Solomons and building an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal. From there they could move against the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and other islands along the supply routes to Australia and New Zealand. After the Japanese presence was discovered, the US 1st Marine Division landed on the 7th, soon capturing the airstrip which was renamed Henderson Field. Close cover was provided by a force of American and Australian cruisers.

9th - Battle of Savo Island - In the early hours of the 9th a Japanese force of seven cruisers and a destroyer headed for Savo Island to the north of Guadalcanal to get at the US transports. Instead they stumbled on five patrolling cruisers. Taken completely by surprise, heavy cruisers "CANBERRA" and the American "ASTORIA", "QUINCY" and "VINCENNES" were hit by a torrent of gunfire and torpedoes and sank in an area soon known as lronbottom Sound. The fifth cruiser "Chicago" escaped and Australian cruisers "Australia" and "Hobart" were close by, but took no part in the action. The transports were untouched. From now on, as both American and Japanese forces tried to bring in supplies and reinforcements, numerous naval battles were fought in and around the southern Solomons.

Papua, New Guinea - In their move on Port Moresby, Japanese troops landed at Milne Bay at the extreme southeast tip of Papua on the 25th. The mainly Australian resistance was strong and by the 30th, the invaders were starting to evacuate. By early September they had gone - the first major setback Japanese forces had experienced on land.


Papua, New Guinea - In mid-month the Japanese reached their furthest point down the Kokoda Trail, within 30 miles of Port Moresby. Australian troops now went over to the attack and slowly drove north towards Kokoda.


Papua, New Guinea - The Australians continued to push up the Kokoda Trail against the usual bloody Japanese resistance. US troops took a parallel track to reach the coast south of Buna. Allied landings also took place on the north coast up from Milne Bay in preparation for the coming assault on Buna and Gona.


Papua, New Guinea - Kokoda was captured on the 2nd, and by mid-month Australian and American troops were attacking the strongly fortified positions around Buna and Gona. Fierce fighting carried on throughout November and December.




5th - Operating off the Solomons with a US cruiser force, the New Zealand "Achilles" was badly damaged in a bombing attack off New Georgia Island.

29th - The Japanese still carried supplies to Guadalcanal by submarine, and "I-1" was caught by New Zealand armed trawlers "Kiwi" and "Moa" to the north. In a fiercely fought action they drove the 2,000-ton boat ashore to the west of Cape Esperance and destroyed her.

Papua, New Guinea - The Buna and Gona area was slowly wrested from the Japanese, and by the 21st was in Allied hands. Papua, New Guinea had now been liberated. The first phase of the New Guinea campaign was over. Next was to clear the coast opposite New Britain and take the airfield at Lae. In preparation for this, Australian troops had already been airlifted to Wau, inland from Salamaua. Capturing the Huon Peninsula took most of 1943.

MARCH 1943

New Guinea - Between the 2nd and 4th in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, US and Australian land-based aircraft annihilated a troop convoy bound for Lae from Rabaul. All eight transports and four escorting destroyers were sunk.

Royal Australian & New Zealand Navies - Gen MacArthur, C-in-C, South West Pacific, had full responsibility for the New Guinea area. The US Seventh Fleet was formed to support Gen MacArthur's campaigning in New Guinea. For some time to come its main component (Task Force 74, previously 44) was Australian cruisers "Australia" and "Hobart", some US destroyers and the Australian 'Tribal' destroyers "Arunta" and "Warramunga". Main US naval strength would remain with Adm Halsey's Third Fleet in the South Pacific Command area to which New Zealand cruiser "Leander" was assigned.

APRIL 1943

New Guinea - Australian troops made limited moves from Wau towards the coast south of Salamaua.

MAY 1943

Royal Navy in the Pacific - After re-equipping with American aircraft and working-up out of Pearl Harbor, fleet carrier "Victorious" joined the Third Fleet under Adm Halsey seven months after a first USN request was made. From now until August 1943, she and "Saratoga" were the only Allied big carriers in the South Pacific. In the few months she was out there, there was not one carrier battle to follow on the 1942 Battles of Coral Sea, Midway, Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz.

JULY 1943

New Guinea - On 30th June, Allied forces landed south of Salamaua. By mid-July they linked up with the Australians fighting through from Wau, and prepared to advance on Salamaua itself. The struggle against the usual fierce resistance continued right through July and August.

New Georgia Islands, Central Solomons - As the fighting for New Georgia Island continued, naval battles and other actions led to losses on both sides: Battle of Kolombangara - Four destroyers covered by cruiser "Jintsu" and five destroyers ran supplies into Kula Gulf on the night of the 12th/13th. Opposing them were two American cruisers and the New Zealand "Leander" (Capt S. W. Roskill) with ten US destroyers. The Japanese cruiser was shelled to pieces, but all three Allied cruisers were disabled by torpedo hits and a destroyer sunk. "Leander" was out of action for 25 months, the last of the two New Zealand cruisers serving with Adm Halsey.

20th - Task Force 74 with cruisers "Australia", "Hobart" and US destroyers sailed from the New Hebrides for the New Georgia area of operations. In the Coral Sea, "Hobart" was torpedoed and badly damaged by submarine "I-11".


New Georgia Islands, Central Solomons - As the fighting on New Georgia came to an end, the Japanese evacuated Kolombangara, the next island in the group. Now the Americans started a policy of bypassing and sealing off heavily defended areas whenever strategically possible and leaving them to 'wither on the vine'. On the 15th they started with landings on Vella Lavella to the north of Kolombangara. By early October, by which time New Zealand troops had joined the fighting for Vella Lavella, the Japanese had left both islands, and the Central Solomons were clear.

19th - In the New Caledonia area, New Zealand trawler "Tui" and USN aircraft sank submarine "I-17".

Aleutians - In mid-month US and Canadian troops landed on Kiska after heavy preliminary bombardments to find the Japanese had quietly left. The Aleutian Island chain was completely back in US hands.


New Guinea - As the Allies fought towards Salamaua, further north a three-pronged attack was launched on Lae by mainly Australian troops - from landings to the east, by men airlifted inland to the northwest, and from the direction of Wau. As the Japanese withdrew from both areas towards the north coast of the Huon Peninsular, Australians entered Salamaua on the 11th and Lae five days later. To prevent the Japanese holding on to the Peninsular, Australian forces landed north of Finschhafen on the 22nd as others moved overland from Lae in the direction of Madang.


New Guinea - Finschhafen was taken on the 2nd, but fighting continued in the area right through until December 1943 when the Australians started pushing slowly along the north coast towards Madang in parallel with their drive further inland.

North Solomons - In preparation for the invasion of the northern Solomons island of Bougainville, New Zealand troops landed on the Treasury Islands on the 27th.


New Britain, Bismarck Archipelago - Gen MacArthur was ready to complete his part in the isolation of Rabaul by preliminary landings on the southwest coast of New Britain, followed by a major assault at the western tip of Cape Gloucester on the 26th. Cover was partly provided by Rear-Adm Crutchley with cruisers "Australia" and "Shropshire". Fighting continued until March 1944 when, assisted by further landings, the western third of the island was secured. By November 1944, when Australian troops relieved the US forces, considerable numbers of Japanese were still penned in around Rabaul where they stayed until war's end.




New Guinea - US Army troops landed at Saidor on the 2nd covered by Rear-Adm Crutchley's mixed force of Australian and American warships. Saidor was soon taken as the Australian forces continued to push along the north coast and overland from Lae. They linked up with the Americans near Saidor on the 10th February, and the Huon Peninsula was now almost entirely in Allied hands.

MARCH 1944

Admiralty Islands, Bismarck Archipelago - To complete Allied strategic control of the Bismarcks, Gen MacArthur's US forces landed on the Admiralty Islands on the last day of February. Further landings were made during March, but by the end of the month, in spite of fierce resistance, they were secured. Some fighting continued through until May 1944. The main island of Manus became one of the major Allied bases for the rest of the war.

Bougainville, Northern Solomons - Only now did the Japanese launch their main attack on the US beachhead, but were soon beaten back. The survivors were left to themselves in the south of the island. In November 1944, Australian forces relieved the Americans and early in 1945 started a long and tedious campaign to clear them out.


APRIL 1944

New Guinea - As Australian forces approached Madang, entering there on the 24th, the Japanese concentrated their weakened divisions around Wewak. Now Gen MacArthur was ready to occupy most of the north coast with a series of leapfrog landings with US troops beyond the Japanese fallback positions. He started on the 22nd with Aitape and across the border in the Dutch half of the Island around Hollandia, which was soon secured. Aitape took longer.


MAY 1944

New Guinea - US forces made their next landings on Wadke Island on the 16th, and further west still on Biak Island on the 27th. The Japanese were not yet finished and fought hard against US attempts to break out from their positions around Aitape, on the mainland near Wadke Island, and on Biak, in some cases right through until August 1944. All this time the Australians were pushing west along the north coast from Madang. Rear-Adm Crutchley's TF74 and other units of Seventh Fleet landed Gen MacArthur's troops, and supported and supplied them. In June 1944 they drove off a determined Japanese operation to reinforce Biak Island by sea.


New Guinea - Conclusion - On 30th July, US troops were landed near Cape Sansapor at the extreme west end of New Guinea, and the Allies were now firmly established along the whole length of this huge island. Gen MacArthur was ready to return to the Philippines. However only now in August, did the fighting die down around Aitape and on Biak Island, still leaving the Australians to finish off the remnants of by-passed Japanese divisions, in some areas until August 1945. But strategically the New Guinea campaign was over.


Halmaheras, Palau Islands & Ulithi, Western Pacific - Gen MacArthur's South West Pacific campaign and the Central Pacific advance of Adm Nimitz were about to meet for the invasion of the Philippines. Before they did, other landings took place in the month: To the northwest of New Guinea, Gen MacArthur's men were landed on Morotai in the Halmaheras by Seventh Fleet, which included cruisers "Australia" and "Shropshire" of the Royal Australian Navy. Air bases were soon under construction.


Leyte, Central Philippines - Because of faster-than-planned progress, the Americans decided to by-pass the southern Philippines island of Mindanao and go straight for Leyte. Directly under Gen MacArthur, Vice-Adm Kinkaid's Seventh Fleet (2) carried out the invasion and provided close support. Including ships loaned from Third Fleet, he had 18 escort carriers and six old battleships. Australian cruisers "Australia" and "Shropshire" with two destroyers were again present. The one Royal Navy representative was fast cruiser-minelayer "Ariadne" serving as an assault troop carrier. The US fleets totalled well over 800 ships. 21st - In one of the first kamikaze ('heavenly wind') suicide attacks on Allied shipping off the beaches, "Australia" was hit on the bridge and badly damaged. 24th/25th - During the Battles for Leyte Gulf, the Australian "Shropshire" and destroyer "Arunta" took part in the Battle of Surigao Strait


British Pacific Fleet - The Royal Navy prepared to return in force to the Pacific, but even then as a junior partner to the vast US fleets. At the end of November the Eastern Fleet was dissolved and Vice-Adm Sir Arthur Power appointed C-in-C of the newly formed East lndies Fleet. He took over some of the ships of the old Eastern Fleet from Adm Fraser including capital ships "Queen Elizabeth" and "Renown", four escort carriers and nine cruisers. Now, as the last U-boats headed back for Europe, Adm Power had sufficient convoy escort strength for Indian Ocean operations. Adm Fraser became C-in-C, British Pacific Fleet (BPF) and early in the month flew to Sydney, his planned main base, and then on to Pearl Harbor to discuss with Adm Nimitz how the Fleet would be employed. By the end of the year, fleet carriers "Illustrious", "Indefatigable", "Indomitable" and "Victorious", battleships "Howe" and "King George V", and seven cruisers including the New Zealand "Achilles" and "Gambia" had been allocated to BPF. Adm Fraser's greatest challenges were to equip and train his aircrews to US Navy standards of operation and to assemble a balanced fleet train. This would enable him to supply and support the fleet so it could operate alongside, but independent of the Americans in the vast stretches of the Pacific. Even at the end he lacked many of the ships needed, especially fast tankers.




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 carriers "Indomitable", "Illustrious", "Indefatigable" and "Victorious" on oil installations around Palembang, southern Sumatra on the 24th and 29th. Adm Vian was in command.

Luzon, Northern Philippines - Three years after the Japanese landed at Lingayen Gulf on the northwest coast of Luzon, Gen MacArthur's Sixth Army went ashore early on the 9th, supported as usual by Seventh Fleet. 5th-9th - Off Lingayen, Australian heavy cruiser "Australia" was hit by kamikazes on the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th and finally had to be withdrawn.


British 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", 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.

MARCH 1945

British 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 "Illustrious", "Indefatigable", "Indomitable" and "Victorious", five cruisers including the New Zealand "Gambia" and 11 destroyers, two Australian sailed for Ulithi to refuel. On the 26th they were on station off the Sakishima (Gunto) 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.


APRIL 1945

Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands - Okinawa was the main island in the Ryukyu group, half way between Formosa and Kyushu. It was needed as a major base for the coming, bloodiest invasion of all - mainland Japan. The greatest amphibious operation of the Pacific war started on the 1st. There was little opposition to start, but by 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 the Sakishimas, "Indefatigable" 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 "Illustrious" 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.

MAY 1945

Borneo - Australian forces under Gen MacArthur started landing operations on Borneo, partly to recover the oil fields. On the 1st they went ashore at Tarakan on the east coast of Dutch Borneo, covered by ships of Seventh Fleet including the Australian cruiser "Hobart". Similar assaults took place at Brunei Bay on the north coast of British Borneo on 10th June, after which the Australians advanced south down the coast of Sarawak. In the last major amphibious operation of the war on the 1st July, the Australians landed at Balikpapan, south of Tarakan on the east coast. Tough fighting was needed to secure the port.

Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands - As the struggle for Okinawa continued, US Fifth Fleet was hit by four 'kikusui' attacks in May. By the 4th, BPF was back off the Sakishimas and also under fire: 4th - "Formidable" and "Indomitable" were hit by one aircraft each. 9th - "Victorious" was damaged and "Formidable" hit again by a suicide aircraft. In all cases the carriers' armoured deck allowed them to resume flight operations in a remarkably fast time. On the 25th the RN ships headed first for Manus to prepare for the next stage of the attack on Japan. In two months the aircraft of BPF had flown over 5,000 sorties.

JUNE 1945

British Pacific Fleet - The main body of the Fleet prepared to leave Sydney to join the US fleet, now the Third under Adm Halsey. As they did, newly arrived fleet carrier "Implacable" with an escort carrier and cruisers in support, launched raids on the by-passed island of Truk in the Carolines on the 14th and 15th.

Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands - The fighting finally came to an end on the 22nd after one of the bitterest of campaigns.

JULY 1945

Australia - Prime Minister John Curtin failed to see the end of the war, dying on the 5th after an illness. Acting PM, Joseph Chiffley, succeeded him.

British Pacific Fleet - Adm Rawlings, now with "King George V", Formidable", "Implacable", "Victorious" and six cruisers including the Canadian "Uganda" and New Zealand "Achilles" and "Gambia" joined Third Fleet in mid-month to bombard Japan by sea and air through into August.


Japan - As US Third Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet continued to bombard Japan, the Royal and Dominion Navies won their last Victoria Cross of World War 2. Lt Robert Gray RCNVR, Corsair fighter-bomber pilot with "Formidable's" 1841 Squadron pressed home an attack on shipping in Onagawa harbour, north-eastern Honshu on the 9th. Under heavy fire, he sank his target before crashing in flames and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Japan - Final Defeat .....

6th - B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay", flying from Tinian dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT killed 80,000 people. 9th - The second A-bomb was detonated over Nagasaki and over 40,000 people died. 15th - VJ-Day: After days of internal argument, Emperor Hirohito over-rode the politicians and military, and broadcast Japan's unconditional surrender over the radio. 27th - Ships of Third Fleet under Adm Halsey started to arrive in Tokyo Bay and anchored within sight of Mount Fuji. Representative ships of the British Pacific Fleet and Dominion Navies included "Duke of York" (flying the flag of Adm Fraser), "King George V", "Indefatigable", cruisers "Newfoundland" and New Zealand "Gambia" and two Australian destroyers. Australian cruisers "Shropshire" and "Hobart" later joined them.


 ... and Surrender

2nd - Gen MacArthur accepted Japan's surrender on behalf of the Allied powers on the quarterdeck of US battleship "Missouri". Amongst the signatories of the surrender document were Adm Sir Bruce Fraser for Great Britain, Gen Blamey for Australia, Col Moore-Cosgrove for Canada, Air Vice Marshal lsitt for New Zealand and, for the United States, Adm Nimitz.

Royal Navy - As ships of the Royal and Dominion Navies repatriated Allied prisoners of war and transported food and supplies throughout South East Asia, other surrenders followed during the next few days. 6th - On board light carrier "Glory" off the by-passed Japanese stronghold of Rabaul, Australian Gen Sturdee took the surrender of the Bismarck Archipelago, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Local surrenders in the area took place on Australian warships. 16th - Arriving at Hong Kong in cruiser "Swiftsure", Rear-Adm C. H. J. Harcourt accepted the Japanese surrender.


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revised 9/7/11