Flag of Vice Admiral A.J. Power,
CB, CVO, as Vice Admiral Commanding First Battle
Squadron and Second in Command
Eastern Fleet was hoisted in the RENOWN
Brooke, RN) at 0800, 15th December
1943. The Flagship was in dock at
Rosyth, where she had been since 2nd December
when she returned from
taking the Prime Minister to the
for the North African
and Teheran Conferences. Docking and
minor alteration to prepare for foreign
due to complete on 26th December.
At noon on 26th
December RENOWN undocked from No. 2 Dock Rosyth, and
anchored in the stream to
complete with oil fuel and stores. At
1200, 27th December she sailed from Rosyth
and after carrying out
D.G. trials in the Firth of Forth proceeded at 1700,
escorted by the VERULAM,
to Scapa, where she anchored at 0600, 28th
December in the Fleet
The two other ships of the First Battle Squadron were at
Scapa when the
Flagship arrived: VALIANT (Captain G.E.M. O’Donnell,
DSO, RN) and QUEEN ELIZABETH
(Captain H.G. Norman, CBE, RN)
PASSAGE TO JOIN THE STATION
It was the intention that the three capital ships should
sail from Scapa
on 29th December and that the Rear Admiral,
Eastern Fleet (Rear Admiral C. Moody) in ILLUSTRIOUS
Cunliffe, RN) and
UNICORN (Captain H.L. St. J. Fancourt,
should leave the
Clyde the same day.
assist in maintaining the secrecy
of the movement it had been planned that passage of the
Straits of Gibraltar
should be made by night, and that the capital ships and
destroyers should fuel
at Gibraltar during dark hours.
On 29th December a south westerly gale was
blowing at Scapa
with the usual heavy sea in the
Firth. It was considered unlikely that the squadron
would be able to maintain the necessary speed without
causing damage to the
destroyers, and, as the weather chart gave promise of an
early improvement, it
was decided to delay sailing for twenty four hours.
RENOWN, VALIANT, and QUEEN ELIZABETH escorted by the
DOMETT, and BERRY sailed from Scapa at 1730, 30th
proceeded through the Minches
to rendezvous with the
Carrier Force to the westward of Skerryvore.
spite of the improvement in the
weather, there was still rather a heavy sea in the Pentland
Firth, and the TUSCAN
sustained damage to her forecastle and breakwater. She
continued with the Squadron until off
Skerryvore when she was
detached to the Clyde for repairs.
ILLUSTRIOUS and UNICORN screened by TERMAGANT,
TENACIOUS, and KEMPENFELT
had sailed from the
Clyde at 2200, 30th December
Position: 56-15N, 09-03W
At 1030, 31st December the force assembled 45
miles to the
westward of Skerryvore and
was joined by the escort
vessels DUCKWORTH and ESSINGTON from the Western
Approaches Command, and the
frigate PARRATT. The force then
VALIANT, QUEEN ELIZABETH,
ILLUSTRIOUS, UNICORN, KEMPENFELT, TENACIOUS, TERMAGANT,
PARRETT intended for through
passage to the Indian Ocean.
BLACKWOOD, DOMETT, BERRY,
COOKE, ESSINGTON lent from Western Approaches as
additional escort to Port
Course was shaped to the westward to make good a speed
of sixteen knots
along a route which had been ordered by the Admiralty
and which was expected to
enable the force to pass the Straits of Gibraltar on the
night of 5th
– 6th January.
In the afternoon, a signal was received from the
Admiralty ordering a
change of route, after passing the longitude of 10
degrees west. This diverted the Squadron further to the
westward and added about 150 miles to the distance to be
covered. Course was altered accordingly.
Position: 51-50N, 17-13W
During the passage
a start was made with working up
the efficiency, both of the ships and of the squadron,
and such drills and
exercises as could be carried out without delaying the
exercised at every opportunity. The
greatly improved weather after the second day enabled
flying programmes, aircraft
dummy torpedo attacks and barrage
firings to be exercised, and some satisfactory progress
in training was made.
Position: 46-57N, 22-47W
Shortly after noon another diversion from
the original route was ordered by the Admiralty in order
to give a wider berth
to a suspected U boat area. This took
the squadron as far west as 24-30W, but without adding
appreciably to the
Whilst carrying out an A/S patrol ahead of the force, a
aircraft from ILLUSTRIOUS crashed into the sea. 2
members of the crew were picked up by a destroyer, but
the pilot was
lost. The cause of the accident has not
yet been established.
Position: 41-03N, 22-20W
Position: 36-41N, 16-50W
Another Barracuda aircraft from ILLUSTRIOUS fell into
the sea when
taking off for a dawn search on 4th January.
An escort vessel was detailed to search with
the assistance of aircraft, but no survivors were
At 1700 (Zone – one) the force was divided into two
groups in order that
the capital ships who were to fuel at Gibraltar might go
on ahead at a greater
speed of advance than the diesel escort vessels could
maintain. The first group, consisting of the three
capital ships screened by the three Fleet destroyers,
and the two turbine
driven escort vessels made good 18 knots speed of
advance, leaving the two
carriers with the other five escorts to follow at 16 ˝
Position: 35-30N, 08-39W
At 0800, 5th January, the battleship group
made a rendezvous
with six destroyers from
in a position 230 degrees west of
the Straits. These destroyers were sent
to join the carriers and relieve the slow screen which
then proceeded to Gibraltar to fuel.
The battleship group with its screen arrived at
Gibraltar at 2130, anchored in Gibraltar and commenced
from tankers. Precautions were taken to
minimize the risk of the ships being sighted from
neutral territory. Meanwhile the carrier group adjusted
make the passage of the Straits in darkness, passing Europa
Point at 0300, 6th January.
position: 35-51N, 03-25W
The five escort vessels who had been relieved on the
screen of the
carrier group, arrived at
at various times during the Middle
Watch, and berthed alongside the Admiralty Harbour
for fuel. Some of these vessels had engine
defects. This was to be expected as the
speed maintained by the squadron had been near the limit
capabilities. PARRETT required certain
essential adjustments to her main engines which had to
be taken in hand by
Gibraltar Dockyard. She was therefore
unable to rejoin the Squadron.
At 0415, 6th January, the battleship group
with its screen of
five ships sailed from
and entered the Mediterranean, and was well clear of
the Straits before daylight. At 0815 the
two groups of the force met at a prearranged rendezvous
50 miles to the
eastward of Europa Point,
and continued to the
eastward at a speed of advance of 14 knots.
It had been intended that four of the destroyers from
Gibraltar should be detached when
the rendezvous was made, but, as the frigates could not
yet catch up, the four
destroyers were retained until the next morning.
During the day fighter patrols and A/S air patrols were
flown from the
carriers, but all the aircraft were landed on before
sunset. Shore based fighters provided for the dusk
period, and also a night A/S patrol ahead of the force
from dusk to daylight,
and night fighters patrolled to the north.
Position: 36-16N, 03-06E
At 0800, the six frigates rejoined from Gibraltar, and
relieved the four
destroyers ISIS, BRILLIANT, ANTHONY, and ACTIVE who were
then detached to Gibraltar.
after parting company, they
were diverted to hunt a U boat off Cape de Gata.
This U boat had been fixed by D/F bearings
and was subsequently sighted by aircraft during the
The transmission from the U boat had been heard by
as “far”. For a time it was
thought that this might have been a report of Group A,
but from later
information, it seems unlikely that this was so.
Position: 37-17N, 10-05E
Passage of the Tunisian war channel was commenced at
first light on 8th
January and continued until 1530. When
passing Bizerta, INGLEFIELD
was detached to Bizerta,
and took with her a hospital case from
ESSINGTON. At 2359 URCHIN was detached
to proceed to Malta.
Position: 33-29N, 15-35E
In the early morning of the 9th January,
there was a certain
amount of enemy air activity off Cyrenaica, some four
to the east of Group A, and a convoy off Apollonia
reported at about 0100 that it was being attacked.
A diversion was ordered in the forenoon to take effect
from 1200. This diverted Group A into the Gulf of Sidra,
some 60 miles to the
southward of the original route. It keep
Group A clear of the convoys which were converging on
the Benghazi Corner; it
added some ninety miles to its distance from enemy radar
stations in Crete
during the early hours of darkness; and it enabled the
force to make most of
the passage between Benghazi and Tobruk in daylight.
During the night of the 9th – 10th
unidentified aircraft were detected by the force and one
was fired on by
ILLUSTRIOUS when it approached within five miles. It is
thought that this was the A/S patrol.
Position: 33-05N, 22-05E
Shortly after 2000 a signal was received that Group A
and a slow
eastbound convoy, which was about 70 miles to the
westward of Group A, had
probably been sighted by enemy aircraft about 1730.
Once again during the night unidentified aircraft were
caused ships to open fire. One aircraft
which acted suspiciously like a shadower
hours was eventually identified as friendly about 0100.
Position: 31-30N, 28-06E
Dummy torpedo attacks on the force were carried out by
aircraft between 0930 and 1100, and interception by
fighters from ILLUSTRIOUS
At 1615, an aircraft was sighted by RENOWN and reported
as a Junkers
88. ILLUSTRIOUS flew off fighters to
intercept, but without success. One
Corsair crashed on taking off. A signal
was later received that the force had been sighted by
German aircraft at 1640.
A warning of enemy aircraft in the vicinity was received
from shore at
0120. Speed was increased to elude a
possible enemy air search and it is thought that no
enemy aircraft came within
fifteen miles of the force. One enemy
aircraft approaching from the southwest was driven off
by a Beaufighter.
At dawn on 12th January Group A was off Port
Said. Arrangements had been made for ships to enter
the Canal in the order of draught with the lighter ships
three fleet destroyers therefore
led the way followed by UNICORN, ILLUSTRIOUS, RENOWN,
QUEEN ELIZABETH, and
VALIANT. The latter two ships had to remain
for a few hours at Port Said to reduce their draught
by discharging fuel – but the remaining ships began the
transit of the Canal at
once. The six escort vessels from the
Western Approaches command parted company at Port Said.
RENOWN and the two carriers proceeded as far as the
Bitter Lakes and anchored there for
the night at about 1700. The three fleet
destroyers, TERMAGENT (n.b.
as recorded), TENACIOUS, and KEMPENFELT were
January and 14th January
RENOWN and two carriers continued the passage of the
Canal and anchored
Bay during the forenoon of
13th January. They were
joined shortly afterwards by the two battleships.
It was decided to devote the remaining part of the 13th
January and the following day to fuelling all ships and
to allow time for
making good essential defects. Meetings
were held with shore authorities in order to arrange for
of exercises for the ships, and for cooperation with
R.A.F. shore based
aircraft for exercises in the harbour
and at sea.
RENOWN, VALIANT, and QUEEN ELIZABETH sailed at 0800 and
carried out day
and night exercised in the
Gulf of Suez
returning at harbour
Position: 29-34N, 32-31E
At 0800, 16th January, ILLUSTRIOUS and
UNICORN with the
destroyers PETARD, PALADIN, PATHFINDER, and ROCKET
sailed from Suez to carry
out H.A. firings in the Gulf of Suez before continuing
the passage to the
East. The three capital ships sailed at
1030. For the remainder of the carrier
force was operated by Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers,
independently of the
battleship force, and was ordered to overtake during the
night and to be about
20 miles south of the battleships on the morning of 17th
Position: 23-37N, 36-27E
In this way considerable progress in training was
delaying the passage. Flying training by
the carriers, radar tracking by both forces during the
night, 15 inch full
calibre firing range and
inclination exercises by the
battleships, and dummy torpedo attacks by aircraft were
among the exercises from which great benefit was
obtained. The comparative security of the northern half
of the Red Sea from enemy air and submarine activity made this
possible by permitting a slight relaxation of
preparedness and by allowing a
wider dispersion of units than could have been accepted
in any other waters
through which the force would pass.
Position: 18-08N, 39-50E
The passage of the
was uneventful. At 1630 on 18th January
ILLUSTRIOUS parted company and proceeded ahead of the
other ships in order to
before high water on the afternoon
of 19th January. It was not
possible for all five heavy ships to be berthed and
fuelled simultaneously in Aden
and the draught of QUEEN ELIZABETH and VALIANT
restricted their movement in the
shallow harbour and
approaches to a shore time either
side of high water. It was therefore
arranged that RENOWN and the two carriers should fuel
between the daylight
tides of the 19th and 20th January
while the battleships
remained at sea, and vice versa on the 20th
Position: 12-24N, 44-50E
Captain D 11 in
with ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE, RAPID, and
had been sent to Aden to reinforce the escort
of Group A for the passage of the Indian Ocean. Captain
D in ROTHERHAM with three R class
at 0700 to meet RENOWN and
ILLUSTRIOUS about 1000. ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE, and RAPID
were then sent
to relieve the battleships’ screen, whilst ROTHERHAM
screened RENOWN and
The four destroyers relieved from duty with the
battleships were then
ordered to escort UNICORN at best speed into Aden.
RENOWN and the two carriers with their escorts all
berthed in Aden
on the afternoon tide of 19th January and
Vice Admiral, Eastern Fleet, called on the Governor of
Aden in the
ILLUSTRIOUS got under way at 1300, 20th
January and was
followed out of harbour by
RENOWN and UNICORN. As soon as they were clear VALIANT
ELIZABETH proceeded into harbour
and the two carriers with a
screen of four destroyers stood to the southward until
midnight, and then to the north
eastward until daylight.
Position: 11-59N, 45-37E
During the day RENOWN and the carriers proceeded on
westerly courses in
order to be off the approaches to Aden at 1800 to
with the two battleships and the destroyer screen. The
four destroyers which had been screening
RENOWN and the carriers were then detached into Aden to
fuel with orders to
overtake the force the next day.
Position: 12-44N, 48-48E
The passage across the Indian Ocean was made without any
noteworthy incident. The weather
continued to be fine throughout and thus there were
opportunities every day for
continuing the sea training of the ships and squadron.
Various new cruising orders were tried out,
with particular reference to the best position for the
carriers when cruising
in company with capital ships.
On the forenoon of 22nd January, the four
destroyers from Aden overtook the force,
which was turned 180 degrees to meet them so that dummy
torpedo attacks and
destroyer counter attacks could be exercised.
Position: 13-40N, 55-28E
Position: 12-02N, 61-46E
At first light on 24th January the force was
formed into a
suitable cruising order for the destroyers to fuel from
the battleships. NORMAN fuelled from QUEEN
ELIZABETH, PALADIN and PATHFINDER from VALIANT, and
PETARD from RENOWN. The other
carrier more fuel and were able to make the passage
without oiling at sea.
sustained slight damage and fouled
her propeller when a spring parted during fuelling. She
managed to complete the passage but as
there was considerable vibration at the speed of the
fleet she was stationed
astern so that that she could follow at her most
suitable speed. On arrival at Colombo, NORMAN was docked
Position: 102-N, 68-08E
During the forenoon a signal was received from Commander
in Chief making
a rendezvous for NIZAM and NAPIER to join the force on
the morning of 27th
Position: 08-44N, 73-51E
Long range aircraft from Ceylon made contact with the
force at midday to start air cooperation
exercises which continued until RENOWN arrived at
At sunset, UNICORN, screened
by ROEBUCK and
RAPID, was detached and proceeded to Cochin, where she
Position: 06-38N, 79-23E
Long range aircraft shadowed the force all night and
made reports on
which a striking force of torpedo bombers was led into a
dummy torpedo attack
on the ships at first light.
At 0730 NIZAM and NAPIER joined from the southward.
At 0830, RENOWN, screened by ROTHERHAM and NORMAN,
parted company and
where she arrived at
1400 and entered harbour.
The other ships of the force, under the Rear
Admiral, Aircraft Carriers, Eastern Fleet, continued to
there on the forenoon of 28th January.
– 31st January
By 28th January the passage of Group A to
join its station
had been completed, and the group having fulfilled its
purpose ceased to exist.
Vice Admiral, Eastern Fleet,
in RENOWN for the remaining days of
January in order to meet and confer with the Commander
in Chief, Eastern Fleet
and other authorities in Colombo.
The other two ships of the First Battle Squadron,
VALIANT and QUEEN
ELIZABETH, remained at
Trincomalee and started to clean
boilers; this work had been deferred until the end of
the passage. It is estimated that boiler cleaning and
repair of normal machinery defects will be completed by
February. RENOWN left Colombo on 2nd
February for Trincomalee and also began boiler cleaning
on arrival. It is intended that all three ships of the
squadron should continue squadron training at sea on 14th
Group A left the United Kingdom with each ship in a
different state of
incomplete training; there was no
opportunity for any exercises at sea as a group before
leaving, and no
opportunity for harbour
drills with all ships in
company. The screen was without any
experience or training in the work they were to carry
out on passage. The group concentrated at sea off
Skerryvore on 30th
December; this meant that
ships had to sail from various ports in Scotland in the
middle of a
festive season. Fortune was tempted and
reacted kingly but a repetition of this experiment is
The standard of efficiency of the visual and other means
communication was very low indeed whilst the “Sea Sense”
of some units in
company left much to be desired and necessitated more
signaling than is
normally required. Improvement was
steady, but it was not until a week at sea had passed
watchkeepers were able to
deal with simple signals
themselves and did not feel obliged to call the watch
below. Without efficient communications a
formation of ships is wide open to attacks, which appear
The passage of 30 days during which no officer or man
went ashore was of
the greatest benefit to all and made a large percentage
of the young and
untrained personnel realise
that cinemas and dance
halls are not necessary to health and happiness. The
exceptionally fine weather throughout the
passage added to the enjoyment and health. The engine
room personnel stood up extremely well to a long period
steaming with a bit change in climatic conditions.
The need to adhere to
programme dates and the
high speed necessary to do so somewhat limited
amount of training carried out. In the
aircraft carriers failures in Barracuda and Corsair
aircraft made modifications
necessary during the passage, and this curtailed flying
training. However, much general sea knowledge and sea
sense has been acquired by all and, from the point of
view of training, the
passage was a success. The Gulf of Suez is an admirable
area and could with advantage be more generally used.
There has, up to date, little opportunity of assessing
the quality of
ships companies other than that in RENOWN. As a
provisional estimate it is fair to state that there is
material on which to work and, with very, firm
leadership, in about 3 months
time a satisfactory standard may be reached. At the
present time officers and men are rather
and there is an acute shortage of leaders.
Vice Admiral, Eastern Fleet,
20th March, 1944
THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY
in Chief, Eastern
Area of operations, click to
PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY
the beginning of the month the
flagship was at
having arrived from Aden on 27th
January. It had been intended to sail
for Trincomalee on 31st January but as no
escort was available it
was necessary to await another day. RENOWN screened by
PETARD and NORMAN proceeded at 1600 on 1st
February, met UNICORN, QUIBERON, and ROEBUCK, all from
Cochin, at 1700 and
proceeded in company and coastwise to Trincomalee.
Position: 07-52.5N, 82-04E
At 1500 the force arrived in Trincomalee
The ILLUSTRIOUS flying the flag of Rear
Admiral C. Moody, CB, VALIANT,
QUEEN ELIZABETH, H.N.M.S.
TROMP, WOOLWICH, flying the Broad Pendant of Commodore
Arliss, DSO, RN, five
destroyers, ADAMANT, and three
submarines were present.
The heavy ships were cleaning boilers and making good
after the long passage from the United Kingdom.
against attack by aircraft and midget submarines were
studied. The radar cover did not appear to give
adequate warning of attack by low flying aircraft and
precautions were ordered in the fleet to supplement the
While boiler cleaning, every advantage of carrying out
harbour exercises and drill
On 6th February, H.M.S. EMERALD arrived from
On 7th February, hostile aircraft approached
the harbour; these were
apparently two armed reconnaissance
planes. One circled the coast and
dropped one bomb near Batticaloa,
and other circling
near Muletivu. It is
possible that these planes intended to reconnoiter
but failed in their task due to faulty navigation.
On 9th February, ILLUSTRIOUS carried out
flying exercises at
At 2200 on 9th February, RENOWN, ILLUSTRIOUS,
destroyers were ordered to come to 4 hours notice.
A conference was held in the shore offices during the
was summoned by the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.
The army had requested a short naval
Island on the Arakan coast,
and possible operations were fully discussed.
The Commander in Chief decided to sail RENOWN,
TROMP, and seven destroyers at 1700 on the 10th
to proceed to the
north eastward making a feint as if to arrive at Ramree
at dawn on the 13th, but actually to reverse
course shortly after
dusk on 11th. W/T silence was
ordered to be broken at 1800, on turning at 2100 on 11th
and by an aircraft at dawn on 12th February
in the position in which
the fleet would have been had the course not been
The force sailed at 1700/10th in accordance
with this plan.
The opportunity was taken to try a circular screen to
combat air and A/S
Position: 13-32N, 82-41E
Weather was fair and the visibility continued to be
good. A/S patrols
were flown from ILLUSTRIOUS and the operation continued
according to plan. At about 1930 a radar contact was
but this was eventually thought to be a cloud. A turn to
the southward was made at 2100.
Position: 11-08N, 84-15E
The southerly course was continued with the force still
enemy aircraft. Advantage was taken to
exercise manoeuvres. NIZAM
developed trouble with her distiller pumps but was able
this sufficiently to enable her to remain with the
force. During the evening, orders were received from
the Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet,
that the force
should return to Trincomalee passing through a position
well to the southward
of that harbour. Course was
Position: 04-50N, 84-24E
The turn to northward was made shortly before noon.
Destroyers carried out dummy torpedo attacks
in the forenoon and in the dog watches, RENOWN carried
out simultaneous throw
off firings at single destroyers attacking from either
beam. During the first watch, radar tracking
exercises were carried out by EMERALD and TROMP.
It was intended that M.T.B.s
from Trincomalee should attack the fleet at dawn,
but they failed to make contact. A radar
contact was picked up and reported as M.T.B.s
proceeded at speed but was actually the oiler EAGLESDALE
escorted by TJERK
HIDDES – an example of the very real danger which arises
operators wrongly interpret the information obtained
from the instruments in
order to fit in with an expected situation.
At 0700, a torpedo striking force was flown off from
ILLUSTRIOUS and 45
minutes later their Corsair escort. These aircraft
carried out an A.R.T. attack on the force. Fighters were
flown off from the ILLUSTRIOUS
to intercept. The attack was well
delivered and demonstrated the advance in efficiency
which has been made in all
pilots as a result of recent training.
The force entered
harbour at 1000/14th.
to 21st February
The demands made on destroyers were convoy escort duties
were heavy and
curtailed sea going practices for the heavy ships. Many
and exercises were carried out but with only sufficient
escorts were available
for VALIANT and QUEEN ELIZABETH to carry out exercises
at sea on Thursday 17th
and Friday 18th February.
On 20th February, H.M.S. GAMBIA (Captain
N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC,
RN) arrived in
Trincomalee from the United Kingdom to join the Eastern
Fleet. On 21st February,
H.N.M.S. TROMP was sailed to Colombo for docking and
H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS flying the flag of Rear Admiral C.
escorted by GAMBIA and screened by ROTHERHAM and TJERK
on a special operation (SLEUTH).
H.M.S. CEYLON (Captain G.B. Amery-Parkes,
arrived after escorting H.M.S. SHAH from Fremantle was
far as the equator. During the forenoon, the Vice
Eastern Fleet flew to Colombo to visit the Commander
in Chief, Eastern Fleet, returning at 1700. Additional
precautions were taken at dark and dawn to combat
to 29th February
Owing to the unfortunate lack of destroyers, capital
ships were confined
to harbour drills and
It had been intended that RENOWN, QUEEN ELIZABETH, and
proceed to sea for exercises on 29th February
but heavy rain reduced
visibility to about half a mile and practices had to be
Part II – Brief Survey And
Appreciation Of Events
From the 1st to the 10th February,
the heavy ships
were cleaning boilers and making good defects after the
passage from the United Kingdom. Subsequently exercises
at sea were very
curtailed by the absence of destroyers on essential
there was much training to
be done in harbour and
satisfactory if slow, progress
has been made. The lack of sea time was
made less harmful by the fact that the ships had just
completed a strenuous
passage from the United Kingdom.
There has been a distinct improvement in the general
bearing of the
officers and men in the heavy ships and, in keeping with
this there has been an
improvement in the appearance of the ships and their
The standard of signaling has improved very greatly as a
continuous exercise and instructions.
Progress during the month can be said to be
satisfactory: but the large number of officers without
knowledge or officer like qualities, the inexperience of
the higher substantive
ratings, and the mass of youngsters make the problem of
preparing the ships for
battle very formidable in 1944.
Vice Admiral, Eastern
30th May, 1944
THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY
to: Commander in Chief, Eastern
Area of operations, click to
PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY
wearing the flag of the Vice
Admiral, Eastern Fleet, QUEEN ELIZABETH and CEYLON, with
to sea for exercises. A submarine
periscope was reported in the practice
area so all exercises at sea were
cancelled and ships returned to harbour.
first full calibre
H.A. firing from Trincomalee Harbour
was carried out by
available fleet destroyers were
sent to hunt a submarine reported to the south westward
and Saturday 4th March
fleet continued harbour
The Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet visited
Trincomalee and held a
meeting of flag and commanding officers in H.M.S. RENOWN
H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH with NIZAM, QUICKMATCH, and
QUALITY sailed for Colombo to store to full
capacity there. Full calibre
and other firing practices were carried out on passage.
order to augment the coastal
batteries in case of seaborne attack, H.M.S. VALIANT and
H.M.S. CEYLON practiced 15 inch and 6
inch firings from their berths in harbour
imaginary target at sea.
Position: 8-50N, 81-47E
(flag of Vice Admiral, Eastern
CEYLON, and EMERALD, screened
by ROTHERHAM (Captain (D) 11th
Destroyer Flotilla), RELENTLESS, NORMAN, NAPIER, NEPAL,
followed by ILLUSTRIOUS
(Rear Admiral, Aircraft Carriers Eastern Fleet), NIZAM,
QUICKMATCH, and QUALITY
sailed for Operation INITIAL. NIZAM,
QUICKMATCH, and QUALITY had returned early in the
forenoon from screening QUEEN
ELIZABETH in order to fuel before sailing with the
the afternoon, a full programme
of practices was carried out, including 15 inch
and 6 inch full calibre
firings at battle practice
target and A.A. firing practices for all types of
ILLUSTRIOUS flew off No. 847
Squadron (9 Barracuda) to China Bay and embarked No.
1830 Fighter Squadron,
making her complement No. 810, 1830, and 1833 Squadrons,
a total of 12
Barracudas and 27 Corsairs.
At 1630, the fleet was formed as a unit, W/T silence
enforced and course
set for the northward. The plan of the
operation was a sweep into the Bay of Bengal, with the
object of a
show of force in the area and, at the same time, to
afford the fleet a chance
Position: 12-57N, 83-07E
A full programme of
exercises was carried out,
attention being paid particularly to the range
calibration of radar for gunner,
and radar height finding for fighter direction purposes.
trials were also carried
out with the new fleet torpedo bomber, the Barracuda,
with regard to its
performance and use as an aircraft for “B” bombing.
Position: 15-26N, 84-04E
The fleet reached the most northerly position for the
was off Vizagapatam, and then turned to the southward.
were continued, including
practices to improve the efficiency of night plotting,
anti aircraft fire at
torpedo bombers and blind fire at night.
trials were also
continued. An unfortunate accident
occurred when one Barracuda failed to pull out of its
dive during an A.L.T. and
crashed into the sea, disappearing immediately.
Position: 12-53N, 81-28E
Further night exercises were carried out but the date
marred by a serious accident on the deck of ILLUSTRIOUS.
A Corsair crashed into the port barrier
stanchion and almost immediately burst into flames.
There was a serious petrol fire in which two
officers and two ratings were killed and several others
badly burned. The fire took an hour to extinguish and
P.2 pom pom.
aircraft that were in the air
at the time were sent to land at Madras. H.M.S.
QUICKMATCH picked up a badly burned
officer from the sea and was sent to Madras with him.
Among other practices, 15 inch
calibre blind throw off
firing was carried out by the
RENOWN and VALIANT.
During the day, W/T silence was broken, in accordance
with the Commander
in Chief’s orders, in the hope that the transmissions
might be picked up by the
enemy, thus indicating that our units were operating in
the Bay of Bengal.
was taken to exercise manoeuvring
by V-H/F R/T which is now being fitted in the
the evening, H.M.S. CEYLON was detached to the Palk
Straits to carry out oiling trials by the double trough
method with R.F.A.
ARNDALE. These trials were unsuccessful.
Fleet re-entered Trincomalee.
INITIAL was an uneventful operation but provided the
In the afternoon, VALIANT, screened by NIZAM, NEPAL, and
NORMAN, sailed for Colombo to complete with stores.
2000, H.M.S. PATHFINDER sailed
for escort duties.
TROMP and destroyers sailed
for an exercise. This was the first
occasion on which destroyers had been available from
escort and other duties to
carry out Fleet practices.
the afternoon, H.M.S. QUEEN
ELIZABETH, having completed with stores, arrived from
Colombo with NORMAN, NEPAL, and H.N.M.S. TJERK
The Vice Admiral, Eastern Fleet, flew to Colombo with
the Captain of the
Fleet in order to attend a meeting on the allocation of
air squadrons to
airfields in Ceylon.
March to Monday 20th March
exercises continued. On Saturday, 18th, H.M.
arrived from the United Kingdom. EMERALD sailed for
Colombo before leaving the
station and H.M.N.Z.S. GAMBIA arrived on the 20th.
March to Thursday, 30th March
(n.b. hand written
21 – 31.3)
The Fleet carried out Operation DIPLOMAT – H.M.S. RENOWN
(flag of Vice
Admiral, Eastern Fleet), QUEEN
ELIZABETH, ILLUSTRIOUS (flag of Rear Admiral Aircraft
Carriers, Eastern Fleet),
LONDON, CUMBERLAND, GAMBIA, CEYLON, and destroyers
NAPIER (Commodore (D),
Eastern Fleet), NORMAN, NEPAL, VAN GALEN, TJERK HIDDES,
QUILLIAM (Captain (D) 4th
Destroyer Flotilla) and PATHFINDER sailed from
Trincomalee. The purpose of this operation was to meet
U.S. Aircraft carrier SARATOGA with destroyers CUMMINS,
DUNLAP, and FANNING, in position 13-10S, 83-40E and
return with them to
full report of this operation was
forwarded in V.A.E.F. No. 754/66A of 8th
During the forenoon, the fleet entered and berthed at
Trincomalee. Before entering the
and ILLUSTRIOUS flew off a large
percentage of their aircraft to R.N.A.S. China Bay.
operation – DIPLOMAT – provided
excellent opportunities of improving the efficiency of
all ships and enabled
the American Task Force to shake down with the Eastern
Fleet. The Task Force is a very considerable
addition to the strength of the Fleet.
At 2200, QUILLIAM (Captain
Destroyer Flotilla), NORMAN, VAN GALEN, and QUIBERON
sailed at short notice for
an operation in the vicinity of Addu
Brief Survey And
Training has progressed in a satisfactory
manner and exercises at sea have proved that harbour
training programmes have
The two 8 inch cruisers LONDON and CUMBERLAND, who
operated with the
Fleet for the first time, each displayed good sea sense
and anticipated the
requirements of the Vice Admiral and Rear Admiral,
Aircraft Carriers, Eastern
Fleet on many occasions. An improvement
is necessary in the 6 inch cruisers.
A circular cruising formation designed for up
to three carriers was tried out. It is
considered that it has many advantages and the
Commanding Officer, U.S.S.
SARATOGA favours circular
formations and circular
concluding BRIEF SURVEY AND APPRECIATION OF EVENTS FOR
MARCH 1944 is missing).
Vice Admiral, Eastern
5th June, 1944
THE SECRETARY OF THE ADMIRALTY
in Chief, Eastern
Area of operations, click to
PART I – CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY
Sunday 2nd April 1944
The Fleet remained in harbour
boiler cleaning, minor repairs and recreation.
2. This week, the
diving school was opened in Orlando Cove, near the old
naval cemetery on
3. REDOUBT and
QUALITY sailed to rendezvous with H.M.T. MARIPOSA and
escort her to
4. The Commander in
Chief, Eastern Fleet, visited Trincomalee to exchange
calls with the Commanding
Officers of U.S.S. SARATOGA (Captain J.H. Cassidy, USN),
and of the U.S.
destroyers CUMMINGS, DUNLAP, and FANNING, forming Task
5. H.M.S. NEWCASTLE
(flag of Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser
Squadron) carried out a
preliminary firing with “K” shell in
object being to discover the reason for the large
spreads of 6 inch salvoes
experienced in cruisers.
6. H.M.S. NEWCASTLE
carried out a 20 rounds per gun 6 inch firing with
S.A.P. “K” shell at a battle
practice target, this being the second part of the
previous day’s firing.
7. The Commander in
Chief held a meeting of flag and commanding officers at
Trincomalee, during the forenoon.
TJERK HIDDES carried out exercises in the practice
areas, and on completion, NEPAL sailed
TJERK HIDDES was also to sail, but broke down
and returned to Trincomalee.
9. H.M.S. SHAH,
escort carrier, with screen of
sailed for deck landing training and gunnery practices.
Owing to the light winds at this time of
year, and SHAH’s low
maximum speed, deck landing was
10. A club was opened
in the Commander in Chief’s bungalow at Plaintain
Point for U.S. Naval Officers.
April to 9th April (Easter Sunday)
11. H.M.S. UNICORN,
QUIBERON, arrived on 6th April; these
destroyers acted as a screen
for ILLUSTRIOUS while exercising the next day.
12. The small floating
dock, AFD 26, was used for docking a destroyer for the
first time on 7th
April. On the 8th, the centre
portion of the large floating dock, AFD 23, arrived from
been towed at an average speed of 4 knots by four tugs.
April – Saturday, 15th April
13. F.S. RICHELIEU
arrived at Trincomalee on 10th April from the
Practices were carried out at sea by all
units of the Fleet, including U.S.S. SARATOGA and F.S.
RICHELIEU. Night exercises to improve efficiency in
fighting and bombardment firings, using the bombardment
range at Foul Point,
were carried out during this period.
The 16th M.T.B. Flotilla,
representing E boats,
carried out dawn and night attacks on the Fleet units.
The 1st Battle Squadron painted ship
to the new
camouflage design adopted for the Eastern Fleet.
14. On 15th
April, U.S.S. CUMMINGS reported sighting a periscope
harbour. A full
destroyer and aircraft search was instituted for the
next 24 hours without
April - Friday,
15. H.M.S. QUEEN
ELIZABETH hoisted the Flag of the Commander in Chief and
the fleet sailed
during the forenoon for Operation COCKPIT.
16. A report of the
operation, the object of which was an air strike on Sabang,
was forwarded separately in V.A.E.F. No. 754/83A of
26th April 1944,
Commander in Chief, Eastern Fleet.
17. During the
approach and retirement, exercises were carried out when
clear of enemy air
attack. These included 15 inch throw off
firings by the battleships.
18. The fleet
returned to Trincomalee a.m. 21st April and
the Command in Chief
held a meeting of Flag and Commanding Officers on board
H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH
in the afternoon.
19. At 1700, H.M.S.
ILLUSTRIOUS, screened by QUILLIAM, QUEENBOROUGH, and
QUALITY sailed for Colombo
for storing, recreation of the ship’s company, and in
order to prepare for the
20. At 0900, H.M. S/M
TACTICIAN (Lieut-Cdr A.F. Collett,
DSC, RN) arrived with the
pilot of the U.S.S.
SARATOGA’s aircraft which
had been shot down over Sabang.
21. The Flag of Rear
Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser Squadron, was
to NIGERIA and NEWCASTLE sailed
for a refit at Simonstown.
22. At 1000, Task
Group 58.5 sailed for
GAMBIA, LONDON, and
TROMP sailed for exercises for 24 hours. Fuelling at sea
from oilers by double trough method was practiced.
– Saturday, 29th April
23. NAPIER was absent
on a special operation from 27th – 28th.
QUEENBOROUGH, QUADRANT, RACEHORSE, and NEPAL were at
sea for exercises.
oiling by double trough method from R.F.A. ARNDALE but
unsuccessful and superficial damage was caused to the
24. On the 27th,
the Flag of the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fourth Cruiser
Squadron, sailed to Colombo to dock
and for repairs.
25. On the 29th,
UNICORN, with PENN and PETARD as screen, sailed for deck
landing training off
26. At 1100, Task
Force 67, consisting of R.F.A.s
EAGLEDALE, ECHODALE, ARNDALE, APPLELEAF, PEALEAF (n.b.
PEARLEAF), and BACCHUS, escorted
Officer, Captain .V. Symonds-Taylor, DSC, RN), ROTHERHAM
GALEN sailed for Operation TRANSOM. FINDHORN joined the
force off the
27. Destroyers in harbour
went alongside battleships so that they could be
assisting in fitting T.B.S. (V H/F R/T).