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ADMIRALTY WAR DIARIES of WORLD WAR 2

 

EASTERN FLEET - January to October 1945

 

Transcribed by Don Kindell

HMIS Cauvery, sloop (Navy Photos, click to enlarge)

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China, East Indies, Australia & New Zealand Stations September 1939 to March 1942

 

       
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SECRET

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

JANUARY 1945

PART I

Three strikes by carrier aircraft against vital Japanese oil installations in northern and southern Sumatra; a landing by Fleet Royal Marines on the island of Cheduba; and bombardment in support of the landing on the northern end of Ramree Island, were among the operations successfully carried out on the East Indies Station in January.

2. The main squadrons of the East Indies Fleet were stabilized during the month as follows:

Third Battle Squadron                 QUEEN ELIZABETH (Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, CB, RENOWN

Fifth Cruiser Squadron                NEWCASTLE (Flag of Rear Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron, Rear Admiral A.D. Read, CB, LONDON, CUMBERLAND, SUFFOLK, NIGERIA, KENYA, PHOEBE and TROMP

3. One or two U boats on passage from the East Indies to Europe are believed to have been the only ones at sea during January, and the month passed free of any shipping losses due to U boat action.

4. Force 61, which had sailed from Trincomalee on 30th December, arrived at Chittagong on 1st January. It was found, however, that since all the enemy had left the area, no bombardment was required for the assault of Akyab. Accordingly, NEWCASTLE, NIGERIA, KENYA, RAPID, RAIDER, and PATHFINDER returned to Trincomalee arriving on 5th January, while PHOEBE remained on the coast as a Fighter Direction Ship.

5. NAPIER and NEPAL continued to operate in support of the Army. RAPID returned to Akyab on 9th January.

6. KISTNA and FLAMINGO left Trincomalee on 8th January to join NARBADA and JUMNA, and for the remainder of the month, these four sloops did very good work inshore and up the Chaunga in support of the Army.

Operation LENTIL

7. Meanwhile, Operation LENTIL, the first of the three blows against Japan’s oil supplies, was being carried out.

8. A force under the command of Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, British Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Sir Philip Vian, KBE, DSO, and consisting of INDOMITABLE (flag), VICTORIOUS, INDEFATIGABLE, ARGONAUT, BLACK PRINCE, CEYLON, and eight destroyers of the 25th and 27th Destroyer Flotillas, and SUFFOLK left Trincomalee on 31st December for Northern Sumatra.

9. On the morning of 4th January, carrier aircraft were flown off to attack the oil refineries at Pangkalan Brandan and successfully completed the operation. Photographic reconnaissance was also made of port installations at Belawan Deli, Brandan, and Soesoe.

10. The Force returned to Ceylon on 7th January.

Operation AINTREE

11. H.R.H., the Duke of Gloucester, en route to Australia to take up his duties as Governor General, arrived at Colombo on 9th January in S.S. RIMUTAKA, escorted by EURYALUS, URCHIN and ULSTER.

12. Onward escort on 11th January was provided by SUFFOLK, URANIA, and ULSTER, who proceeded to Fremantle when relieved off south west coast of Australia by ACHILLES and two destroyers of the British Pacific Fleet, these ships completing the escort to Sydney.

Operation PASSPORT

13. In this operation – capture by the 26th Indian Division of a fire base southeast of Minbya – very good work in support, both before and after the landing operations on 12th January was done by Motor Launches of the Arakan Coastal Forces. The landing completed, these forces proceeded successfully to cut the enemy’s water lines of communications and to destroyer supply craft. The 49th, 36th, 59th, and 145th Flotilla took part, with F.T. 14 was Headquarters Ship.

Operation MATADOR

14. As information was received that opposition to the landing on the northern end of Ramree was likely to be stiffer than originally anticipated, QUEEN ELIZABETH (Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron) was sailed from Trincomalee on 18th January to increase the weight of the bombardment. She was accompanied by AMEER, with 804 Squadron for air spotting and ground strafing, and the destroyers NORMAN, PATHFINDER, and RAIDER.

15. REDPOLE and SPEY left Vizagapatam on 18th January to screen QUEEN ELIZABETH while bombarding, and on 20th January TEVIOT left Vizagapatam to relieve REDPOLE.

16. The landing took place on 21st January, and p.m. that day her task well completed, QUEEN ELIZABETH returned to Ceylon with NAPIER and REDPOLE in company.

Operation MERIDIAN

17. On 24th January, the month’s second attack on Japanese oil supplies was made, this time in the Palembang area of southern Sumatra.

18. The force – which left Trincomalee on 16th January with orders to proceed to Fremantle on completion – consisted of INDOMITABLE (Rear Admiral Aircraft Carriers, British Pacific Fleet), INDEFATIGABLE, VICTORIOUS, ILLUSTRIOUS, KING GEORGE V, BLACK PRINCE, ARGONAUT, EURYALUS, CEYLON, and eleven destroyers of the 25th and 27th Destroyer Flotillas (CEYLON and one destroyer escorted an oiling force and were ordered to return to Ceylon on completion).

19. The target for 24th January was the Pladjoe refinery. Good results were observed.

20. On 29th January, the force returned to the attack, the target on this occasion being the Soengei Gerong refinery on the other side of the river as the previously assaulted Pladjoe installation. Again the operation was successful.

21.  Opportunity was taken to stress British naval strength available in the Far Eastern waters by publication of names of the units which took part in this dual operation.

22. In connection with the working up of the British Pacific Fleet which preceded Operation MERIDIAN and the Fleet’s subsequent sailing for their station, the Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, has reported: “It has been a great tonic to the East Indies Fleet to have had these ships at Trincomalee and to have worked with them…..I think the general feeling they took away with them was that the East Indies Fleet had given them all possible assistance within their means.”

Operation SANKEY

23. During the period covering the two strikes at Palembang, Fleet Royal Marines had made a successful landing on Cheduba Island. (it is noted that a “commando” force is incorrectly referred to in W.I.R. 256 and 257).

24. Force 65 – NEWCASTLE (Rear Admiral A.D. Read, CB), KENYA, NIGERIA, and PALADIN – sailed from Trincomalee on 23rd January with Force “Wellington” – 500 Fleet Royal Marines, embarked in cruisers and under the command of Colonel P. Picton-Phillips, RM.

25. They were joined on 25th January by PHOEBE, AMEER, RAIDER, NORMAN, TEVIOT, and SPEY) and at the lowering position on D-Day, 26th January, by RAPID escorting Landing Craft with BYMS and an M.L.

26. The operation was entirely successful and Force “Wellington” on relief by the Army was re-embarked a.m. 31st January.

27. All the cruisers carried out a short bombardment in support of the Army in Ramree during the period 27th – 31st January.

28. Sagu Island was occupied on 30th January after NORMAN and RAIDER had neutralized field guns which had repulsed an attempted landing the previous day.

29. Force 65 left the Arakan area p.m. 31st January after carrying out a final bombardment on Ramree.

30. The vice Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron reports that the participation of the larger ships in active operations off the Arakan Coast has been a great stimulant to morale.

Fleet Train to British Pacific Fleet

31. The following ships left Trincomalee on 25th January for Fremantle: TYNE, ARTIFEX, RESOURCE, LEWES, and 7 ships of the 22nd Minesweeping Flotilla. LONDON provided ocean escort and the commercial tanker BATTLEROCK sailed in company.

Operation PHAROS

32. A survey party, consisted of M.L. 1376 and B.Y.M.S. 2005 sailed from Colombo on 28th January – E.T.A. Cocos 4th February. H.M.S. HIND, towing B.D.V. BARBOUR sailed from Trincomalee on 29th January – E.R.A. Cocos 7th February.

                                                                                                (sgd) A.J. Power

                                                                                                Admiral

1st March 1945

Enclosures:       Appendix 1 – Minesweeping

                         Appendix 2 – Shipping

 

Secret

Eastern Fleet War Diary – January 1945

Appendix I – Minesweeping

All available B.Y.M.S. and M.M.S. have been engaged in operations on the Burma Coast.

2. Clearance sweeps have been carried out in Akyab Harbour, Hunter’s Bay, and Kyaukpyu inner harbour. A searched channel has been established in the approaches to Kyaukpyu harbour.

3. One moored contact mine was swept in Hunter’s Bay, eight in the approaches to Kyaukpyu, and two in Kyaukpyu inner harbour.

 

 

Secret

Eastern Fleet War Diary – January 1945

Appendix II – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoy throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciable U boat threat.

ROUTING

The dividing line between East and West bound shipping know as the “RUMBLE ROUTE” running from the Western Channel Light Vessel off the mouth of the Hughli to Chittagong was extended to the Southward to a position off Akyab. North bound shipping keeping within 5 miles to the eastward and southbound shipping within 5 miles to the Westward of this line.

Other than the above change, no change was made in the routeing throughout the station.

TROOP AND SPECIAL CONVOYS

ABF.7               Twelve troopships and 1 freightship escorted by H.M.S. HELFORD and DERG sailed from Aden on 5th and arrived Bombay 11th January.

ABF.8               Six troopships escorted by H.M.S. PLYM and TRENT sailed Aden on 25th and arrived Bombay 30th January.

BAF.9               Six troopships escorted by H.M.S. HALLADALE and DERG sailed Bombay 18th and arrived Aden 23rd January.

MA.36               One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN sailed Madras 6th and arrived Chittagong 9th January.

MB.80A            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. HALLADALE sailed from Colombo 11th and arrived Bombay 14th January.

MB.80B            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. BUGLOSS sailed Colombo 26th and arrived Cochin 27th January.

BP.123             One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. BOMBAY sailed Karachi 7th and arrived Hormuz 8th January.

BP.124             One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. BENGAL sailed Karachi 23rd and arrived Hormuz 25th January.

PB.90               Two troopships escorted by H.M.I.S. BENGAL and BOMBAY sailed Hormuz 17th and arrived Karachi 20th and Bombay 21st January.

CM.59C            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. BANFF sailed Kilindini 24th and arrived off Aden 30th January.

CM.60               Two troopships escorted by H.M.S. FALMOUTH and LANDGUARD sailed Durban 21st and arrived Kilindini 28th January.

MC.12A            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. MARGUERITE sailed Aden on 15th and arrived Kilindini 21st January.

MC.14B            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. BANFF sailed Aden on 18th and arrived Kilindini 25th January.

MC.14C            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. LULWORTH sailed Aden on 23rd and arrived Kilindini on 30th January.

JC.71                One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. KATHIAWAR and KONKAN sailed Colombo 30th December and arrived Chittagong 7th January.

KR.14               One troopship escorted by H.M.S. PARRET sailed Kilindini 24th January and arrived Colombo 1st February.

RK.4                 One troopship escorted by H.M.S. MONKSHOOD and NIGELLA sailed Colombo on 7th and arrived Diego Garcia on 11th January. Left Diego Garcia on 12th and arrived Seychelles on 16th January. Convoy sailed from Seychelles on 16th escorted from H.M.S. PARRET and arrived Kilindini on 20th January.

PA.83               Two troopships escorted by H.M.S. HELFORD and DERG sailed from Hormuz 31st January and arrived Aden 4th February.

AP.75C             One troopship escorted by H.M.S. DERG (n.b. sailed) Aden on 26th and arrived Hormuz on 30th January.

US – SU           U.S.S. ADMIRAL BENSON escorted by H.M.S. ROEBUCK and RELENTLESS sailed from Bombay on 5th January. Destroyers parted company on crossing 5 degrees South, U.S.S. ADMIRAL BENSON thereafter proceeded independently arriving Melbourne on 17th January.

U.S.S. GENERAL MITCHELL and GENERAL RANDALL and troopship EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND sailed from Hobart on 9th January. H.M.S. LONDON met this convoy southwest of Fremantle and escorted it to 4 Degrees South where it was met by H.M.S. ROTHERHAM, RELENTLESS, and ROEBUCK. H.M.S. ROEBUCK was then detached and convoy proceeded to southwest of Addu Atoll where it split. The American ships escorted by the first two named destroyers proceeded to Bombay arriving on 23rd January. The EMPRESS OF SCOTLAND escorted by H.M.S. ROEBUCK proceeded to Aden arriving there on 25th January.

MISCELLANEOUS CONVOYS

Three troops and 4 M.T. ships escorted by H.M.S. KALE, AWE, and ROCKROSE, sailed from Vizagapatam 1st and arrived Chittagong on 4th January. One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN sailed Madras on 6th and arrived Chittagong on 9th.

The following ships were employed on escort duties between Chittagong, Akyab, and Ramree during the month:

H.M.S. AWE, KALE, FLAMINGO, ROCKROSE

H.M.I.S. BALUCHISTAN, BIHAR, CARNATIC, KUMAON, ORISSA

ESCORT VESSELS

During January, H.M.S. CRANE joined the East Indies Escort Force.

H.M.S. TAY from the Aden Escort Force has sailed to the United Kingdom for major repairs.

The following BATHURST class vessels were sailed for Australia on 26th January to join the British Pacific Fleet:

GERALDTON, TAMWORTH, WOLLONGONG, CAIRNS, IPSWICH, CESSNOCK, and GAWLER

At the end of January, the following number of escort vessels were undergoing refit or major repairs or were on passage to or from refit.

Aden Escort Force

1

LOCHY

Kilindini

5

FISHGUARD, GORLESTON, SENNEN, TOTLAND, GENISTA

East Indies Escort Force

17

PUNJAB, BIHAR, NADDER, GODAVERI, LOSSIE, AVON, JED, DEVERON, TAFF, SUTLEJ, CAUVERY, ROSEBAY, BETONY, SMILAX, BURNET, TULIP, FRITILLARY

 

 


 

Enclosure to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station

Letter No. 1090/E.I. 1409/OPS dates 31st March 1945

SECRET

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

FEBRUARY 1945

PART I

In their significance as evidence of a return to a limited degree of “normality”, two of the outstanding events of the month on the East indies Station were the disbandment of the Aden Escort Force, and the decision to allow all troopships running between Aden – Persian Gulf – Bombay and Ceylon, and all those sailing in the area North of a line Dar es Salaam, position 15 degrees South and 50 degrees East, Chagos and Dondra Head, Ceylon, to proceed unescorted with the exception of those carrying large numbers of NZ or US troops. (See Shipping Appendix).

2. On the operational side during February, there was an extensive photographic reconnaissance of enemy held territory, and strikes by a destroyer force against Japanese positions.

3. Continued and most valuable support was given to the Army in Burma throughout the month. M.L.’s of Arakan Coastal Forces operated in the Ramree and Myebon areas. Several sustained damage and casualties from enemy shore guns, but in no case were these serious. In the Ramree area, sampans carrying troops and supplies have been destroyers and prisoners captured. Details of operations in the Arakan by Force 64 and Advanced Force W are, for convenience, tabulated at the end of this Diary.

4. The following destroyer reinforcements arrived on station during the month: SAUMAREZ (D 26 (Captain M.L. Power, CBE, DSO), VIGILANT, VIRAGO, VOLAGE, VENUS, ESKIMO.

5. KHEDIVE, the first ship of the 21st (Assault) Carrier Squadron, also arrived.

6. One merchant ship was sunk by U boat action west of Australia. There were no other losses in February, and it is probable that the U boat responsible for this sinking was returning to Malaya – Netherland East Indies area after a patrol off Australia, where one ship was sunk in December 1944. There have been the usual number of doubtful sighting reports, but the only other U boats believed at sea in February were three of four on passage in the Indian Ocean.

7. The old Controlled Minefield at Colombo was fired during the month, and the new Controlled Minefield and Station completed and put into operation.

SEARCH FOR SURVIVORS

8. It was at 1440Z on 6th February, in position 34-19S, 99-37E, that PETER SILVESTER (7176 tons) was torpedoed. She had sailed from Melbourne on 28th January for Colombo with 175 men, including 7 officers and 100 enlisted personnel of the U.S. Army.

9. On 13th February, the U.S.S. CORPUS CHRISTI picked up 62 survivors including the Captain, and a further 62 later. By 20th February, the total picked up was 107. Another 40 were believed to be in the area in two boats.

10. H.M.S. SLINGER and SPEAKER, on passage from Colombo to Sydney, were diverted to carry out a search between 13th and 18th February. On 28th February, H.M.S. ACTIVITY, also on passage from Colombo to Sydney, picked up 20 survivors, and H.M.S. FORMIDABLE, on passage from Colombo to Fremantle, was ordered to carry out air search for the remaining 20 believed adrift. At this date a total of 127 out of 175 had been picked up.

DESTROYER STRIKE

11. On 21st February, Force 68, comprising ROTHERHAM (D 11), RAPID, ROCKET, and ROEBUCK sailed from Trincomalee to carry out Operation SUFFICE – a strike against shipping in the area east of the Nicobar and Andaman Islands.

12. Unfortunately, no shipping was encountered, but a Radar Station on Great Coco Island was bombarded and possibly put out of action during the withdrawal of the Force to Akyab, where it arrived on 25th February.

OPERATION STACEY

13. Under the command of Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron (Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, CB), Force 62 sailed from Trincomalee on 22nd February to carry out photographic reconnaissance of Penang, the Kra Isthmus between latitudes 7 degrees North and 10 degrees North, and Northern Sumatra.

14. The Force consisted of EMPRESS (Flag) with 854 Avenger Squadron and 888 Hellcat P.R. Squadron, AMEER with 804 Hellcat Squadron, KENYA, VOLAGE, VIRAGO, VIGILANT, SPEY, PLYM, and SWALE.

15. Force 61 – R.F.A. ECHODALE and TRENT – sailed from Trincomalee on 26th February to rendezvous with Force 62.

16. Information so far received indicates that photographic reconnaissance of the Kra Isthmus and Penang was carried out successfully between 26th and 28th February. Three enemy aircraft were shot down by our fighters without loss.

17. Force 62 proceeded to rendezvous with the oiling force on 2nd March and continue the operation.

TO JOIN THE BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET

18. NAPIER (D 7) left Ceylon on 23rd February for Australia and the British Pacific Fleet. (Transfer of the 7th Destroyer Flotilla to the British Pacific Fleet will be complete when NORMAN and NEPAL leave on 1st March).

19. FORMIDABLE also left Ceylon on 23rd February for the British Pacific Fleet, after a fortnight’s working up, during which were fighter squadrons were rearmed with Corsair 4’s.

OPERATION ‘TRAINING’

20. Force 68, which had arrived at Akyab on 25th February, was sailed again on 27th February to carry out a further strike in the Tavoy area, followed by a bombardment of Port Blair.

OPERATION PHAROS

21. Survey of the west entrance to Cocos was stated by H.D.M.L. 1376 escorted by Y.M.S. 2005. H.M.S. UGANDA, on passage from Colombo to Fremantle, landed stores and personnel at Cocos and refuelling the surveying craft on February 28th. HIND, with BRABAIN in tow, arrived at Colombo on 28th February having left the Cocos on the 18th.

CHITTAGONG

22. The sea terminal moorings at Chittagong were completed on 28th February.

OPERATIONS IN THE ARAKAN BY N.C.F. 64 AND ADVANCED FORCE W

N.C.F. 64

CAUVERY arrived Akyab, 23rd February

NARBADA in area throughout the month

FLAMINGO in the area throughout the month

JUMNA left the Arakan for Colombo, 23rd February.

KISTNA left for Calcutta, 11th February. Boiler clean. Rejoined N.C.F. 64 on 23rd February.

Sloops and small craft employed at Southern approaches to Kangaw beachhead by Daingbon Chaung.

FEB.     1st         KISTNA and FLAMINGO provided harassing fire on Kweguseik.

2      NARBADA joined Force. L.C.A.’s carried out landings with patrols of 74th Brigade of the 25th Indian Division, Min Chaung. Survey vessel NGUVA came under fire in the vicinity of Kantaunggyi – no damage

4.      Forces redisposed to maximum strength, Tok Chaung.

6.      NARBADA and KISTNA carried out harassing fire, Tamandu. L.C.A.’s supported reconnaissance in North Chaung, Kangaw.

7.      JUMNA joined NARBADA and KISTNA. Tamandu bombarded by all three. M.L.’s carrying out offensive patrols Dalet Chaung. North Chaung, Kangaw area, still controlled by enemy. Naval Forces subjected to gunfire. No casualties.

8.       Sloops continued bombardment Tamandu. M.L.’s patrol Dalet Chaung.

9.       Bombardment Tamandu completed. Highly successful. Small craft blocking exits to South from Kangaw. Enemy activity in Kangaw area and Min Chaung (north of Kangaw).

10.      L.C.A.’s landed Commandos Tatya area, south of Kantaunggyi. Enemy guns knocked out by Naval forces.

14.       Sloops continued harassing fire on Tamandu.

16.       Assault landing North of Ru Ywa with 53rd Brigade of the 25th Indian Division from Myebon, a.m. 16th supported by three sloops and small craft. M.L.’s made diversion to the northward in the Tamandu area and surprise was achieved. Guns in beachhead area silenced by NARBADA.

18.       2nd Brigade of the 82nd West African Division lifted from Kangaw to Ru Ywa. First flight of 1200 men plus equipment and mules.

19.       Sloops continued support in beachhead areas. Further lift of troops from Kangaw: 2nd Brigade West Africans and 74th Brigade/25th Indian Division all from Kangaw. Complete control of Kangaw area gained.

20.       Northern beachhead Ru Ywa covered by enemy 4 inch mortar. Some casualties in craft. Beachhead closed for period and build up hampered in consequence. Heavy shelling on M.L.’s at entrance to assault Chaung. Heavy mortar fire in area.

22.       NARBADA received direct hit after. Minor damage only. She remained in area.

23.       JUMNA left for Colombo. CAUVERY arrived Akyab from Colombo.

24.       Enemy shelling of assault beaches continued. Landing of reinforcements continued by night. Sloops supported military advance to North and East from Ru Ywa.

ADVANCED FORCE W

   NEWCASTLE, KENYA arrived Trincomalee from Arakan, 2nd February.

NIGERIA, PHOEBE, AMEER, TEVIOT, SPEY arrived Trincomalee from Arakan, 3rd February.

RAIDER arrived Trincomalee from Arakan, 5th February

NORMAN arrived Trincomalee from Arakan, 6th February.

These ships had supported Operations MATADOR and SANKEY in Ramree and Cheduba Islands.

NEPAL remained in area until 12th February. Arrived Colombo 14th February.

PALADIN and PATHFINDER remained in area until 25th February, arriving Colombo on 27th and 28th February, respectively.

ROCKET arrived Arakan 16th February. Sailed for Trincomalee 18th February.

NORMAN arrived Arakan on 18th February and sailed for Trincomalee the same day.

ESKIMO arrived Akyab on 20th February, VENUS on the 21st

PATHFINDER and PALADIN bombarded targets in Ramree from the Kaleindaung river and supported Naval Blockade by small craft to prevent Japanese from escaping to mainland.

FEB .   11th                   PATHFINDER and PALADIN attacked by 8 Japanese fighter bombers.

PATHFINDER damaged by near miss. Proceeded to Kyaukpyu to investigate extent of damage. PALADIN continued bombardment.         

            12                     NEPAL returned to Colombo

            16                     ROCKET relieved PALADIN in Kaleindaung River.

17                     ROCKET carried out bombardment

            18.                    ROCKET sailed for Trincomalee via Akyab

            20.                    ESKIMO arrived Akyab

21.                   Commodore Poland arrived Akyab in VENUS and took over from Senior Officer, Force W on -

24.                   - as Naval Force Commander, Burma, with Headquarters ashore at Akyab.

25.                   Senior Officer Advanced Force W and staff sailed to Calcutta in ESKIMO

PALADIN and PATHFINDER sailed for Colombo.

ESKIMO and VENUS were retained by Commodore Arakan for further operations.

 

ENCLOSURES:

APPENDIX 1 – MINESWEEPING

APPENDIX 2 – SHIPPING

 

Enclosure to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station

Letter No. 1090/E.I. 1409/OPS dates 31st March 1945

SECRET

Appendix I – Minesweeping

1. B.Y.M.S. and M.M.S. continued to operate in support of the offensive in Burma. An additional 14 moored contact mines have been accounted for, making a total of 25 to date in these operations. It is considered by all mines swept have been either J IV, or J VIII type.

2. A check sweep of Akyab harbour was carried out with negative results. It can now be confirmed that Akyab is free of mines.

3. Destroyers were swept into Kaleindaung River. Later, the river and approaches were swept with negative results.

4. The clearance of Combermere Bay has not yet been completed, but operations are continuing.

 

Enclosure to Commander in Chief, East Indies Station

Letter No. 1090/E.I. 1409/OPS dates 31st March 1945

SECRET

Appendix 2 – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoy throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciable U boat threat.

After the sailing of Convoys ABF 9 and AJ 9 from Aden on 1st February and of PB 92 from Hormuz on 18th February, it was decided to allow all troopships running between Aden – Persian Gulf Bombay and Ceylon to proceed unescorted. Exceptions had to be made in the case of these carrying large numbers of New Zealand or United States personnel.

After the sailing of MC 15 from Aden on 24th February it was decided to allow all troopships sailing in the area North of a line Dar es Salaam position 15 degrees South and 50 degrees East Chagos and Dondra Head Ceylon to proceed unescorted.

ROUTEING

In agreement with Commander South West Pacific Sea Frontier it was decided that as from 1st February shipping crossing the Chop line 100 degrees east should revert to the standard routeing procedure thus eliminating the diversions to Southward of 33 degrees South brought into force on 17th November.

In view of the negligible risk of U boat attack and in order to speed up shipping it was decided to suspend certain routeing instructions which had been issued to obtain a dispersal of shipping and allow vessels to proceed by the most direct route; this particularly affected the passage between Australia and Indian also between Ceylon – India and South Africa.

TROOP CONVOYS

ABF 8A             One troopship escorted by H.M.S. BANN sailed from Aden on 6th and arrived Bombay 11th February.

ABF 9               Eight troopships escorted by H.M.S. HELFORD and DERG sailed from Aden on 18th and arrived Bombay 23rd February.

AM.11               Four troopships escorted by H.M.S. KALE and MONKSHOOD sailed from Chittagong 20th and arrived Madras 26th February.

AJ.8                  One troopship escorted by H.M.S. HALLADALE sailed Aden on 16th and arrived Colombo 21st February.

BP.125             One troopship escorted by H.M.I.S. OUDH sailed Bombay 7th February being joined off Karachi by one troopship escorted by H.M.S. (n.b. H.M.I.S.) ROHILKAND. Convoy arrived Hormuz on 11th February

PB.92               Two troopships escorted by H.M.I.S. OUDH and ROHILKAND sailed Hormuz on 18th and arrived Karachi 21st February.

CM.60               Four troopships escorted by H.M.S. FALMOUTH, LANDGUARD, and MARGUERITE sailed from Kilindini on 31st January and arrived Aden 8th February.

CM.60A            Two troopships escorted by H.M.S. TEST sailed from Kilindini on 10th and arrived one ship at Berbera and one ship at Aden on 17th February.

MC.14D            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. HONESTY sailed from Berbera on 13th and arrived Kilindini 19th February.

MC.14E            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. FALMOUTH sailed from Berbera on 14th and arrived Kilindini on 21st February.

MC.14F             One troopship escorted by H.M.S. TEST sailed from Berbera on 20th and arrived Kilindini on 27th February.

MC.15               Three troopships escorted by H.M.S. JASMINE and MARGUERITE sailed from Aden on 23rd February and arrived Kilindini 2nd March.

CX.37                One troopship escorted by H.M.S. NETRABATI sailed from Colombo on 15th and arrived Addu Atoll on 17th February.

OW.1                U.S.S. GENERAL J.H. MACRAE and GENERAL C. G. MORTON sailed from Melbourne on 2nd February and proceeded unescorted to 5 degrees South where they were met by H.M.S. RACEHORSE and REDOUBT who escorted them to Calcutta where they arrived on 19th February.

OW.2                U.S.S. GENERAL W.A. MANN sailed from Melbourne on 25th February proceeding unescorted to 5 degrees South where she was met by H.M.S. SAUMAREZ who escorted her as far as 7 degrees North thereafter the ship proceeded independently to Bombay arriving on 10th March.

WO. 1               U.S.S. WILLIAM MITCHELL and GENERAL GEORGE M. RANDALL escorted by H.M.S. RELENTLESS sailed from Bombay on 30th January being met by H.M.S. ROCKET in 11 degrees North. Destroyers parted company on crossing 5 Degrees South and troopships proceed unescorted to Melbourne where they arrived on 12th February.

PA.84               One troopship escorted by H.M.S. HALLADALE sailed from Hormuz on 5th February and arrived at Aden 11th February.

MISCELLANEOUS CONVOYS

A.F.D.17           Towed by tugs LARIAT and INTREGRITY and escorted by H.M.S. MEADOWSWEET sailed from Cochin on 13th February being due to arrive Fremantle about 15th March.

The following ships were employed on escort duties between Chittagong, Akyab, and Ramree during February:

AWE, KALE, ROSEBY, MONKSHOOD, NIGELLA, BALUCHISTAN, KATHIAWAR, KONKAN, KUMAON.

ESCORT VESSELS

H.M.S. LULWORTH and SENNEN were ordered to transfer from the Kilindini Escort Force to the East Indies Escort Force.

On 4th February orders were given to the Aden Escort Force to be disbanded and directing that ships should join the East Indies Escort Force.

On 12th February, H.M.S. FINDHORN, PARRET, AVON, and PHEASANT sailed from Colombo to Port Darwin to join the Pacific Fleet. H.M.S. WOODCOCK was sailed on a similar mission on 14th February.

On 16th February orders were given for H.M.S. BOMBAY, BENGAL, PUNJAB, KHYBER, ORISSA, KOHILKAND (n.b. ROHILKAND), and RAJPUTANA to proceed to Bombay to equip as minesweepers.

At the end of February the following number of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs and were on passage to or from refit.

Aden Escort Force                                 1

Kilindini Escort Force                             6

East Indies Escort Force                      18

                                                         ____

                                                          25

 


 

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

 

MARCH 1945

PART I

Anti shipping sweeps by destroyers in the Andaman Sea, and completion of the photographic reconnaissance operation begun by Force 62 at the end of February, represent the major phase of East Indies Fleet operational activity during the month of March.

2. In the Andaman Sea operations a number of Japanese supply vessels, and escorts, were destroyed. Although there were some casualties, and damage to H.M. Ships, o ship was lost – as claimed in a broadcast exaggeration by the Japanese.

3. On the Burma Coast, the task of supporting the army virtually ceased with the capture of Tamandu on 4th March, responsibility for their maintenance and movement devolving on to inland water transport. With the decreasing naval commitments, opportunity has been taken to withdraw landing craft for refit. Some coastal forces were also withdrawn at the end of the month.

4. A measure of “artillery “ support which has been afforded to the army in the Arakan is provided by the bombardment figures covering the period 14th December to 1st March. Between these dates more than 23, 000 rounds, from 4 inch to 15 inch, were fired by H.M. Ships (see Gunnery appendix).

5. There was no U boat activity throughout the month.

6. Rear Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, relieved Rear Admiral A.D. Read, CB, as Rear Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron on 11th March. Vice Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron reports: “The cruisers have been putting in the maximum amount of training that other fleet requirements have allowed.”

7. The following reinforcements joined the East Indies Fleet during the month: ROYALIST (Broad Pendant of Commodore G.N. Oliver, Commanding 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron), HUNTER, STALKER, EMPEROR, and the destroyers TROUBRIDGE (D 24), TENACIOUS, TERMAGENT, VERULAM, NUBIAN, and BLACKMORE.

8. F.S. RICHELIEU rejoined the Fleet on 20th March, relieving H.M.S. RENOWN. RENOWN had returned on 7th March from her refit at the Cape, but was subsequently required to adjust her complement and go home. She sailed for the United Kingdom on 30th March.

9. KENYA and NEWCASTLE also left the station for the United Kingdom, the flag of Rear Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron having been transferred from NEWCASTLE to CEYLON on 25th March.

OPERATION ‘TRAINING’

10. Force 68, ROTHERHAM (D 11), ROEBUCK, RAPID, and ROCKET sailed from Akyab on 27th February and on the night of 1st/2nd March operated inshore between Tavoy Island and Heanzay Basin. 3 sailing coasters were destroyed and 2 damaged.

11. On 3rd March, the Force Bombarded Port Blair, subsequently proceeding by Manners Strait and arriving at Trincomalee on 4th March.

OPERATION STACEY

12. After the photographic reconnaissance of the Kra Isthmus and Penang had been carried out between 26th and 28th February, Force 62 refuelled on 2nd March and then proceeded to a flying off position north west of Simalur Island. On 4th March a successful photographic reconnaissance was made of the northeast coast of Sumatra, and of Niass, Simalur, and Banjak Islands.

13. The force arrived at Trincomalee on 7th March.

LETPAN LANDING

14. On 13th March, a Brigade Group assault was made on Letpan, on the Burma coast. Naval support included destroyers ROEBUCK and ESKIMO, and the sloops CAUVERY and JUMNA. Only slight air and ground opposition was met.

OPERATION TRANSPORT

15. The second of the month’s offensive sweeps in the Andaman Sea – Operation TRANSPORT – was made by Force 70, comprising SAUMAREZ (D 26), VOLAGE, and RAPID.

16. This force sailed from Trincomalee on 14th March and passed through the Ten Degree Channel on the night of 15th/16th march. A sweep was made towards Penang but without result.

17. Bombardment of Sigli was carried out of 17th March and of Port Blair on the morning of 19th March.

18. The force entered Stewart Sound p.m. on 19th, and destroyed a junk, but came under fire from one 6 inch, or larger, gun.

19. RAPID was hit and stopped. SAUMAREZ proceeded to tow RAPID clear while VOLAGE provided covering fire. VOLAGE was subsequently hit.

20. Casualties sustained in this action were:

            RAPID:             Killed – 1 officer, 10 ratings

                                    Wounded – 2 officers, 21 ratings

            VOLAGE:          Killed – 3 ratings

                                    Wounded – 4 ratings

21. The force proceeded to Akyab, arriving on 20th March. RAPID sailed from Akyab on 22nd March, subsequently arriving at Colombo on 27th March. She sailed for Simonstown on 28th March to repair damage.

OPERATION ONBOARD

22. Reconstituted with SAUMAREZ (D 26), VOLAGE, VIRAGO, and VIGILANT, Force 70 sailed from Akyab on 25th March on a further sweep – Operation ONBOARD – and entered the Andaman Sea by Preparis North Channel.

23. At 1047FG on 26th March, a Japanese convoy, of two merchant vessels, escorted by two submarine chasers, was sighted in position 10-36 north, 94-56 east. The convoy was attacked and destroyed.

24. The RISUI MARU, of 1500 tons, was stopped by gunfire from the destroyers and sunk by a R.A.F. Liberator which had been ‘homed’ by the force and joined in the attack. In making this attack, this aircraft hit the merchantman’s mast and crashed. Two survivors were rescued.

25. The second merchantman, the TESHIO MARU of 400 tons, was sunk by gunfire. Of the escort – Submarine Chasers 63 and 34 – one was sunk by gunfire and the other torpedoed.

26. 5 officers, 45 men, and 7 women were taken prisoners. Only superficial damage was sustained by our own ships, which arrived at Trincomalee on 29th March.

BURMA COAST BOMBARDMENT

27. The destroyers ROEBUCK and ESKIMO carried out bombardment of the Pagoda Point area on 27th March, and of the Chaungtha area on 28th March.

28. On 30th March, these same destroyers, with M.L.s of the 56th Royal Indian Navy M.L. Flotilla and 4 M.L.s of the 36th M.L. Flotilla, made a diversionary raid on Gwa. Harbour installations were bombarded by moonlight without opposition.

OPERATION PHAROS

29. Survey of the western entrance to Cocos Island showed that it is shallower than charted and foul. The operation is continuing, using the northern anchorage.

30. The first two ships – a personnel ship carrying the advanced party, and a heavy lift ship carrying R.C.L.s and other heavy lifts – arrived on 22nd March and were speedily unloaded after a 48 hours delay caused by bad weather.

 

APPENDIX 1 – SHIPPING

APPENDIX 2 – MINESWEEPING

APPENDIX 3 -   GUNNERY

 

Appendix 1 – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoys throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciable U boat threat

TROOP CONVOYS

SU.1                 Four troopships embarked with New Zealanders escorted by H.M.S. USK, SHIEL, and ODZANI sailed from Aden on 21st March calling at Colombo 29/30th March en route to Australia where they are scheduled to arrive 13/14 April. Escorts were changed at Colombo and the convoy proceeded by H.M.S. USK and BARLE, while SHIEL and ODZANI remained at Colombo.

OW.3                U.S.S. ADMIRAL BENSON sailed from Melbourne 16th March and proceeded unescorted to 5 degrees south where she was met by H.M.S. PENN and PALADIN and escorted to 7 degrees north, thereafter proceeding unescorted to Bombay where she arrived on 27th March.

WO.3                U.S.S. GENERAL MANN sailed from Bombay and proceeded unescorted to 7 degrees north where she was met by H.M.S. RACEHORSE and REDOUBT and escorted to 5 degrees south thereafter proceeding unescorted to Melbourne arriving 27th March.

WO.4                U.S.S. ADMIRAL BENSON left Bombay 31st March and proceeded unescorted to 7 degrees north where she was met by H.M.S. PENN and PALADIN and escorted to 5 degrees south thereafter proceeding unescorted to Melbourne where she is due to arrive about 11th April.

MC.15               Three troopships escorted by H.M.S. TEST, FALMOUTH, and JASMINE sailed from Kilindini 4th March and arrived Durban 12th March.

CM.60B            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. SNOWFLAKE sailed Durban 19th March and arrived Kilindini 25th March.

CM.61A            One troopship escorted by H.M.S. JASMINE sailed Durban 25th March and arrived Kilindini 1st April.

MISCELLANEOUS CONVOYS

A.F.D.18           Sailed from Aden 9th March towed by tug ENFORCER and escorted to H.M.S. BANFF for Cochin where it arrived on 24th March to await onward towage to Australia.

A.F.D. 20          Sailed from Aden 25th March towed by tugs EMINENT and DESTINY for Cochin where it arrived 9th March to await onward towage to Australia.

A.F.D. 40          Sailed from Capetown 18th March and arrived Durban 28th March where it was taken in tow by H.M.S. VERBENA and proceeded escorted by H.M.S. TULIP for Cochin.

A.F.D. 53          Sailed from Aden 12th March towed by tugs ADVANTAGE and BOLD and escorted by H.M.S. LANDGUARD. The dock arrived safely at Colombo 28th March and proceeded on to Vizagapatam towed by BOLD and escorted by H.M.S. SHOREHAM. H.M.S. LANDGUARD and tug ADVANTAGE remained at Colombo.

The following ships were employed in escort duties on the Arakan Coast during March:

H.M.S. AWE, LULWORTH, SWALE, BANN, ROSEBAY, DERG, THYME, ROCKROSE

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of March, the following numbers of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs, or were on passage to or from refit.

Kilindini Escort Force                 7

East Indies Escort Force          22

                                             ____

                                              29

Five returning from refit were usefully employed escorting M.L.’s and docks.

 

Appendix 2 – Minesweeping

Auxiliary minesweepers working on the Burma Coast, having completed their operations, were released on 20th March to return to rear bases for repairs, refitting, and working up in modified ‘L’ sweeping.

2. In the operations for the period under review, a total of 27 moored contact mines were swept.

3. It is intended to work up all Royal Indian Navy Bangors and Bathursts in minesweeping and to form them into a flotilla of fleet minesweepers, Royal Indian Navy Bassets being used as attendant danlayers.

 

Appendix 3 – Gunnery

In support of the Army on the Burma Coast during the period 14th December to 1st March, the following ammunition was expended.

 

With Air O.P. or Naval Aircraft Observation

 

 

 

Calibre

No. of bombardments

Rounds fired

15"

2

70

6"

11

1590

4.7"

10

860

4" Mk.V

6

560

4" Mk.XVI

16

178

 

___

___

TOTALS

45

4860

 

 

 

With F.O.B. Observation 

6"

4

70

5.25"

3

140

4.7"

5

160

4" Mk.V

23

1180

4" Mk.XVI

31

2230

 

___

___

TOTALS

66

3780

 

 

 

With Direct Observation

6"

1

30

5.25"

3

460

4.7"

13

930

4" Mk.V.

8

1060

4" Mk.XVI

16

2520

 

___

___

TOTALS

41

5000

 

 

 

With no observation except previous registration

4.7"

2

160

4" Mk.V

5

800

4" Mk.XVI

86

8540

 

___

___

TOTALS

93

9500

 

(note: Numbers of round fired are approximate to the nearest 10).

 


 

Enclosure to Commander-in Chief, East Indies Station’s 1733/E.I. 1490/45 of 25th May 1945

SECRET

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

APRIL 1945

PART I

The climax of the Allied campaign in Burma was heralded by the decision, made at the beginning of April, to launch a seaborne invasion of Rangoon.

2. D Day was fixed for 2nd May, and details of the landing operations must find their place in the Diary for that month. But on 30th April, a bombardment and fighter strike against the airfields of Car Nicobar, and a bombardment of Port Blair, were carried out as part of operations planned to cover and ensure the success of the landings in Rangoon River. A destroyer patrol was also established in the Gulf of Martaban, and submarine patrol in the southern Malacca Straits.

3. Earlier in the month, destroyers had carried out further offensive sweeps in the Andaman Sea. On the west coast of Sumatra, photographic reconnaissance of great importance was combined with an anti shipping sweep and air strikes against enemy occupied ports.

4. The month saw continued absence of U boat activity.

5. ATTACKER and TARTAR (D 10) joined the station. TROUBRIDGE (D 24), TENACIOUS, and TERMAGENT left the station on transfer of the 24th Destroyer Flotilla to the British Pacific Fleet.

Operation PENZANCE

6. Force 62 – ROTHERHAM (D 11), RACEHORSE, REDOUBT, and ROCKET sailed from Trincomalee on 30th April and a.m. 2nd April carried out reconnaissance of Narcondam Island, to investigate its suitability as a fuel and ammunition dump for Coastal Forces.

7. On the nights of 1st/2nd and 2nd/3rd April, the Force swept the Tenasserim coast between Mergui and Amherst, sinking 1 – 100 foot auxiliary coaster and 1 junk. Bombardment of the Radar Station on Great Coco Island was carried out on 4th April. The Force arrived at Akyab on 5th April.

Operation PASSBOOK

8. On 7th April, Force 62 sailed from Akyab, and between 9th and 11th April operated between Moulmein River and Mergui, and in the Hastings Harbour area. During these operations, 5 Mergui type sailing craft were sunk and 18 Burman survivors picked up.

9. At dawn on 11th April, 6 Liberators of 222 Group sighted 1 merchant ship, escorted by 1 submarine chaser, in position 9-00 North, 93-40 East. Both vessels were sunk by aircraft. Force 62 reached the area in the afternoon and proceeded to pick up 62 Japanese and 6 Sumatran boys in Japanese uniform. The Fore arrived at Trincomalee on 13th April.

Operation SUNFISH

10. Force 63, engaged in this operation, was under the command of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB and consisted of – QUEEN ELIZABETH (BS 3), RICHELIEU, EMPEROR (CS 5) with 888 Hellcat P.R. Squadron, KHEDIVE, LONDON, CUMBERLAND, SAUMAREZ (D 26), VENUS, VERULAM, VIGILANT, VIRAGO. (Force 70 – Tanker Force_ - LOSSIE and R.F.A. EASEDALE).

11. The force sailed from Trincomalee on 8th April. The original intention was to carry out the photographic reconnaissance, beginning on 12th April from a flying off position west of Padang. Anti shipping strikes were to follow.

12. This programme had to be re cast when EMPEROR’s catapult broke down, necessitating the postponement of the photographic reconnaissance for two days.

13. According, on 11th April, QUEEN ELIZABETH, RICHELIEU, and LONDON bombarded Sabang, while SAUMAREZ, VIGILANT, and VERULAM bombarded Oleelhoe. No shipping was present at Sabang, but the destroyers damaged a small coaster, which was already beached.

14. The Force was subsequently attacked by a force of 10 enemy aircraft, 2 of which were shot down by our fighters.

15. On 12th April our ships re fuelled from Force 70 and LONDON was detached to Simonstown to re fit.

16. Force 63 then proceeded to operate off the west coast of Sumatra, and photographic reconnaissance was carried out as planned on 14th and 15th April with almost complete success. One of our aircraft was lost. One enemy aircraft was shot down by our fighters.

17. An air strike was made on Emmahavn on 16th April, hits being scored on a 4000 ton merchant ships and the marine workshops. Our fighters shot down one more enemy aircraft and 3 were damaged on the ground. VENUS and VIRAGO, meanwhile made a sweep between the outlying islands and the mainland, from Ayerbangis Bay to Natal Road. 6 junks were sunk.

18. The force arrived Ceylon on 20th April.

Operation DRACULA

19. Following the decision to make a sea borne assault on Rangoon, steps were immediately taken to assemble the necessary ships and craft at Akyab and Kyaukpyau.

20. With the exception of one or two vessels, which, however arrived in time for the first convoys, the Force was assembled by 25th April, under the command of Flag Officer, Force W – Rear Admiral B.S.C. Martin, CBE, DSO

21. D Day was fixed for 2nd May. The slowest convoy sailed for Rangoon on 27th April and the main convoy on 30th April. The latter including H.M.S. LARGS (wearing the Flag of Flag Officer, Force W), H.M.S. PHOEBE as Fighter Direction Ship, 4 L.S.I.’s, 2 transports, and H.M.I.>S CAUVERY and SUTLEJ.

22. Fighter protection for the convoys was provided by R.A.F. aircraft and by the Carrier Group - H.M.S. ROYALIST (wearing the Broad Pendant of A.C. 21, Commodore G.N. Oliver, CB, DSO), HUNTER, STALKER, KHEDIVE, EMPEROR, with destroyers SAUMAREZ (D 26), VENUS, VIRAGO, and VIGILANT.

COVERING OPERATIONS

23. To meet any threat to Operation DRACULA by enemy surface forces sortieing from Singapore, the following dispositions were made:

(i). All available units of the Fleet proceeded to operate in the Andaman Sea (See Operation BISHOP).

(ii). Three submarines established a patrol in the southern Malacca Straits.

(iii). R.A.F. Sunderland and Liberator aircraft based on the Arakan coast began cross over patrols from South Andaman Island due east to the Tenasserim coast on 30th April.

OPERATION BISHOP

24. Force 63 under the command of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, sailed from Trincomalee on 27th April. The Force consisted of: QUEEN ELIZABETH (BS 3), RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND (C.S. 5), SUFFOLK, CEYLON, TROMP, ROTHERHAM (D 11), TARTAR (D 10), VERULAM, NUBIAN, PENN, EMPRESS (with 20 Hellcats of 804 Squadron embarked), SHAH (with 10 Avengers of 851 Squadron and 4 Hellcats of 804 Squadron).

25. An oiling force, Force 69 – H.M.S. PALADIN and R.F.A. OLWEN – sailed from Trincomalee on 26th April.

26. Short endurance ships of the Force 63 fuelled about 200 miles west of Car Nicobar on 29th April. The Force then proceeded via the south Batti Malv Channel and carried out a bombardment and fighter strike against the airfields of Car Nicobar at dawn on 30th April. Port Blair was similarly bombarded in the afternoon of that day.

27. During the Port Blair bombardment, TROMP suffered 1 fatal and 6 other casualties. Near misses from ashore batteries were thought to account for these casualties, but subsequently they were attributed to a ‘premature.’

OPERATION GABLE

28. On 27th April, Force 62 – ROEBUCK (Broad Pendant of Commodore A.L. Poland, CB, DSO, DSC) – Commodore (D)), RACEHORSE, and REDOUBT also sailed from Trincomalee, and p.m. on 29th April established patrol in the Gulf of Martaban with the object of intercepting small craft between Rangoon and the Tenasserim coast.

29. At about 0220 FG on 30th April, the Force destroyed 10 small craft (ranging from 50 to 80 feet) which were proceeding from Rangoon to Moulmein and contained about 750 Japanese troops. The Japanese displayed strong suicidal tendencies and were left in the water.

 

APPENDIX 1 – SHIPPING

APPENDIX 2 – MINESWEEPING

 

Appendix 1 – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoys throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciable U boat threat.

TROOP CONVOYS

CM.61   Two troopships escorted by H.M.S. FISHGUARD and F.S. D’DURVILLE (n.b. DUMONT D’URVILLE) sailed from Durban 16th April and arrived Kilindini 25th April.

CW.4    USS GENERAL LEROY ELTINGE and USS GENERAL R.B. CALMAN sailed from Melbourne 13th April and proceeded unescorted to 2 degrees south there they were met by H.M.S. ROCKET and escorted to Calcutta where they arrived 26th April.

MISCELLANEOUS CONVOYS

A.F.D. 40          Continued it passage towed by tug PRUDENT and escorted by H.M.S. TULIP to Cochin where it arrived 30th April.

A.F.D. 39          After many delays owing to no Admiralty tugs being fit not available for towage AFD 39 left Durban 7th April towed by S.A.R. & H. tug HOY and escorted by trawlers NORWICH CITY and COVENTRY CITY. H.M.S. LOCHY left Durban on 9th April to hold the tow whilst the tug fuelled at Beira and thereafter proceeded as Senior Officer, Escort. Meantime PRUDENT having taken over tow of AFD 40 from corvette VERBENA it was decided that H.M.S. VERBENA should take over tow from HOY at Kajunga. This was carried out on 22nd April and dock continued on its way to Trincomalee towed by H.M.S. VERBENA and escorted by H.M.S. LOCHY. HOY and minor escorts returned to Durban from Majunga.

A.F.D. 18 & A.F.D. 20 as Convoy WO.4A      This party commenced their long tow to Darwin from Cochin on 9th April in tow of tugs EMINENT, DESTINY, ADVANTAGE, and CHEERLY whilst harbour tug EMPIRE SAM was in company towed astern of one of the docks. Escort was provided by the frigates HELFORD and PLYM en route for the British Pacific Fleet. On 14th April, EMINENT had a serious fire in engine room and was towed back to Colombo by CHEERLY who subsequently rejoined convoy on 18th April. Refuelling en route was carried out on 27th by EAGLESDALE en route for Fremantle. With the tug power halved progress has been very slow and arrival at Darwin is not anticipated until end of May.

A.F.D. 55          Towed by EMPHATIC and escorted by H.M.S. ROSEBAY left Aden 21st April for Trincomalee where they are expected to arrive about 11th May.

DUMB HOPPERS    Two hoppers towed by tugs EMPIRE JENNY and EMPIRE BARBARA and escorted by SNOWFLAKE left Aden 4th April for Karachi where they arrived 13th April.

30 ton Crane      Towed by H.M.S. NIGELLA and escorted by H.M.S. ODZANI left Colombo 30th April for Trincomalee and arrived 1st May.

SPECIAL          Damaged submarine SIRDAR left Fremantle 6th April escorted by H.M.S. MEADOWSWEET and after refuelling at sea from EAGLESDALE arrived at Trincomalee 23rd April.

REDUCTION OF KILINDINI ESCORT FORCE AND RE ALLOCATION OF SHIPS ON EAST AFRICAN COAST.

 In order to make better use of escort vessels in view of the negligible U boat threat and to augment East Indies Escort Force, it was decided to transfer the remaining YOKE cutters and sloop FALMOUTH from Kilindini to Colombo, together with the frigate H.M.S. TEST, the latter transferred from South African Station by Admiralty’s 012325 April. In order to combat any U boat threat that might arise a small striking force of corvettes remain based either end of the Mozambique Channel at Kilindini and Durban respectively.

ARAKAN COAST FORCES

The following ships were employed on escort duties on the Arakan Coast during April:

ASSAM, BANFF, TAFF, HALLADALE, LINARIA, SENNEN, SPEY, SHIEL, NIGELLA, LULWORTH, BANN, DEVERON, THYME, TRENT, SWALE

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of April the following numbers of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs or were on passage to or from refit:

Kilindini Escort Force                             4

East Indies Escort Force                       12

                                                           ___

                                                           16

SPECIAL OPERATIONS

A number of the vessels employed on the Arakan Coast escorted convoys of Landing Craft from Indian Ports to Kyaukpyu for forthcoming operations.

 

Appendix 2 – Minesweeping

The 7th M/S Flotilla arrived on the station during the month, with the exception of SQUIRREL, which has been delayed in the United Kingdom. After a few days devoted to working up, these ships proceeded to Akyab ready to take part in the Operations on the Burma Coast.

2. The Royal Indian Navy Bangors and Bathursts – together with 4 Bassets to be used as danlayers – have been formed in to the 37th M/S Flotilla. These ships have been working up at Mandapam and nine of them, with their 4 dan layers, sailed to Akyab to take part in minesweeping operations.

3. All BYMS and MMS have been undergoing repairs, maintenance and docking after their recent operations in the Arakan, and have since been preparing and assembling for further operations.

4. Eleven “LL” whalers of the 157th and 177th Auxiliary M/S Group are being prepared for return to trade.

 



 

SECRET

 

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

 

 


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

 

MAY 1945

 

PART I

 

Opening with the successful assault of Rangoon, the month of May was to prove the most eventful to date in the record of the East Indies Fleet.

 

2. If the almost total lack of opposition during the Rangoon operations robbed the assault of its impressiveness – from the point of view of a public unappreciative of the underlying details of preparation and organisation – compensation followed in the attempt of a Japanese NACHI class cruiser to sortie from the Malacca Straits and in its subsequent destruction.

3. This interception of the enemy cruiser involved splendid cooperation between all arms of the Service and with 222 Group Royal Air Force culminating in a spirited action by the 26th Destroyer Flotilla in the best traditions of efficiency.

4. Fleet operations to cover the Rangoon assault had begun at the end of April and were continued with effect throughout the first week of May. Air strikes were also carried out on the Tenasserim Coast, and surface patrols established to prevent any evacuation of the Andaman Islands by small craft.

5. During the month, H.M.S. SHAH joined the East Indies Fleet as a ferry carrier from the United Kingdom. H.N.M.S. TROMP left Trincomalee to be attached, temporarily, to the United States 7th Fleet.

6. No U boat has surrendered on this Station following the surrender of the German armed forces.

7. The ever decreasing submarine threat in this theatre has made possible a reduction in anti submarine defences. The fixed defences at Kilindini, the island bases, and at Karachi, are being removed and stored. Defences in Ceylon and at Indian East Coast ports are also shortly to be reduced.

8. Routine A/S and M/S patrols have been discontinued, and vessels thus freed are being transferred to more active service or returned to trade.

9. Black out restrictions have been lifted off shore, and all shore navigation lights, except in newly occupied territory, operate on peace time standards. Other shore defences on the Station have been reduced concurrently to conform to the scale of enemy attack.

10. Meanwhile, in order to build up strength in the east, a steady reduction of the rear bases in the western area of the Station has been taking place. Some of the main reductions effected, or being effected, are listed in an Appendix to this Diary.

Operation DRACULA (Object: Capture of Rangoon by Amphibious Assault)

11. The assault was carried out on 2nd May by the 26th Indian Division mounted from Arakan ports by Force W, under the command of Rear Admiral B.C.S. Martin, CBE, DSO.

12. Assault convoys had arrived at the lowering positions during the night 1st/2nd May, with the exception of minesweepers and survey craft under the command of Captain A. Day, CBE, RN (Naval Commander, Force 65) who arrived p.m. on 1st May to sweep and mark the channel to the lowering position for the remainder of the force.

13. Fighter protection for the assault convoys and for ships in this assault area were provided by a Carrier Group under the command of Commodore G.N. Oliver, CB, DSO (Commodore Commanding 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron). The group consisted of H.M.S. ROYALIST, HUNTER, STALKER, KHEDIVE, and EMPEROR, and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D 26), VENUS, VIRGO, VIGILANT, with H.M.S. PHOEBE as fighter direction ship.

14. Accompanying the assault force were H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ and CAUVERY. There was no supporting bombardment by ships as geographical and tidal conditions necessitated this being done entirely by the Royal Air Force.

15. A Ghurka Battalion made a parachute drop in the Elephant Point area on 1st May, and captured the coastal batteries with very little opposition.

16. Leaving the lowering position at 0200 on 2nd May, the first waves of landing craft touched down at 0700 at Sadinghmut and Kyauktan Creek. There was no opposition, and the buildup at these bridgeheads was cancelled as soon as it became clear that the Japanese had left Rangoon. The first troops landed in Rangoon Town at 1700 on 3rd May.

17. One L.C.T. was mined in the Rangoon River and was lost. H.M.S. SILVIO was mined on 8th May, but remained seaworthy.

18. Prior to the assault, H.M.S. BLACKMORE had carried out weather reporting duties to the eastward of the Andamans and H.M. S/M STRONGBOW to the westward of the Nicobars. The weather during the assault was, generally, calm, but heavy rain curtailed flying operations and bogged down heavy gear at the beach heads. The lateness of the good weather season was demonstrated by a cyclone near the convoy route on 3rd May. As soon as they could be spared, all major landing craft were withdrawn to Indian ports in order to be clear of the lee shore before the south west monsoon became established.

19. Naval Officer in Charge, Rangoon, assumed duty on 10th May. On the withdrawal of Flag Officer Commanding Force W on 11th May, Captain D.C. Hill, assumed operational command of the naval force in the Rangoon area with the title of Naval Force Commander, Burma.

Operation BISHOP (Object: To provide cover for the Rangoon Assault)

20. Force 63 under the command of Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB – and consisting of QUEEN ELIZABETH (BS 3), RICHELIEU, CUMBERLAND (CS 5), SUFFOLK, CEYLON, TROMP, ROTHERHAM (D 11), TARTAR (D 10), VERULAM, NUBIAN, PENN, EMPRESS, and SHAH – followed up its strikes against Car Nicobar and Fort Blair on 30th April, with a second bombardment of air strips at Car Nicobar on the morning of 1st May, and at Port Blair on 2nd May. The force then proceeded to their covering position for operation DRACULA in the North Andaman Sea.

21. Aircraft of the force bombed and drove ashore an 80 ton coaster in the Tavoy River on 3rd May and on 4th May strafed Mergui and Victoria Point airfields. On 6th May after a short bombardment of A.A. defences, aircraft from H.M.S. EMPRESS and SHAH attacked shipping in Port Blair harbour. Two 100 feet ships, one tug, one junk, and one jetty were set on fire. One of our Hellcats was lost.

22. H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH carried out a bombardment of a 6 inch gun position at Stewart Sound on the afternoon of 6th May, four hits being observed in the gun pit.

23. Throughout the whole of Operation BISHOP, no enemy air opposition was encountered. The force arrived at Trincomalee on 9th May.

AIR STRIKES ON TENASSERIM COAST

24. The carrier group under the Commodore Commanding, 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron, was released from the Rangoon area on 4th May, and on 5th and 6th May carried out air strikes between Mergui and Victoria Point. Five barges were sunk, and two junks, believed to be carrying oil, were left in flames. Jetties and warehouses at Mergui were bombed and strafed. The group then returned to Trincomalee arriving 9th May.

Operation DUKEDOM (Anti shipping sweep during which NACHI class cruiser was destroyed

25. On 10th May, H.M. S/Ms STATESMAN and SUBTLE, two of three submarines on patrol in the Malacca Straits, both reported sighting one Japanese cruiser of the NACHI class, with single destroyer escort proceeding north westward. There was also considerable anti submarine activity by submarine chasers.

26. Force 61, the majority of whom had returned from Operation BISHOP on 9th May, sailed from Trincomalee and proceeded towards the 10 – Degree Channel. The force was commanded by Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, CB, Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, and consisted of QUEEN ELIZABETH (BS 3), CUMBERLAND (CS 5), ROYALIST (AC 21), RICHELIEU, TROMP, HUNTER, KHEDIVE, SHAH, EMPEROR, and the destroyers SAUMAREZ (D 26), VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO, VERULAM, ROTHERHAM (D 11), TARTAR (D 10), and NUBIAN. Force 70, an oiling force consisting of H.M.S. PALADIN and R.F.A. EASEDALE, sailed from Trincomalee on the same day.

27. STATESMAN, a.m. on 12th May, reported the enemy cruiser and destroyer retiring south eastward – probably due to the sighting, by Japanese aircraft on the morning of 11th May, of units of Force 61 to the westward of the Nicobars. To avoid, if possible, being sighted again, Force 61 then proceeded to a position about 200 miles southwest of Achin Head, North Sumatra, and Force 70 was ordered to rendezvous with Force 61 for refuelling.

28. It was appreciated that if Japanese aircraft made no further sightings of the East Indies Fleet unit, the enemy cruiser might make a second attempt to sortie.

29. P.M. on 13th May, at the request of Flag Officer Force 61, all available ships were sailed from Trincomalee to re inforce him. These ships – H.M.S. NIGERIA, ROEBUCK, RACEHORSE, and REDOUBT – were formed into Force 62. H.M.S. ROCKET, who was escorting a south bound troopship in the vicinity of 2 degrees North, 85 degrees East, was ordered to leave her convoy and rendezvous with Force 62 on 14th May. Force 67, consisting of H.M.S. PENN and R.F.A. OLWEN, was also sailed from Trincomalee on 13th May to proceed northeastward and meet any need for a second oiling force.

30. Force 62 met Force 61 at 0700 on 15th May.

31. At 1050 on 15th May, in position 06-55 North, 96-50 East, the enemy cruiser and destroyer were sighted, retiring south eastward, by an Avenger of 851 Squadron (H.M.S. SHAH), operating from H.M.S. EMPEROR, since SHAH had a defective catapult. Almost simultaneously the enemy was sighted by a Liberator of 222 Group, one of six of these aircraft who were just beginning a parallel track search.  This Liberator shadowed the enemy until about 1400 (the Avenger had previously sighted and attacked a small merchant ship escorted by a submarine chaser, about 15 miles to the north westward of the cruiser).

32. At 1500 a strike by three Avengers resulted in one probable bomb hit and one near miss being scored on the cruiser, which was then steering 090 degrees. This was the last sighting in daylight.

33. The nearest H.M. ships at 1500 were the 26th Destroyer Flotilla – SAUMAREZ (Captain M.L. Power, OBE, DSO, RN), VENUS, VIGILANT, VIRAGO, and VERULAM – who were 240 degrees, 85 miles from the enemy steering 110 degrees at 27 knots to intercept after dark. Heavy ships and escort carriers were all to the westward of Sabang.

34. At about midnight on 15th May, the 26th Destroyer Flotilla located the enemy cruiser by radar, and after a period of shadowing attacked independently but simultaneously with torpedoes from different bearings at close range. About eight hits were scored, and the cruiser was seen to sink at about 0100, 16th May, in position approximately 45 miles southwest of Penang. The enemy destroyer was also observed to be damaged by gunfire.

35. Damage and casualties in H.M. ships were confined to SAUMAREZ, who had two ratings killed and one boiler room put out of action whilst under fire from the cruiser.

36. The fleet subsequently concentrated north of Sumatra. At daylight on 16th May, reconnaissance flights were made from Puket southward into the Malacca Straits.

37. Several air attacks by some five enemy fighter bombers were made on the fleet. These attacks were not pressed home, but a near miss on VIRAGO at sunset, caused damage above her water line. Her casualties were four killed, and eight seriously injured. Two of the attacking aircraft were damaged by our fighters.

38. Forces were reconstituted on 17th May, and half the fleet and Force 67 returned to Trincomalee. The other half remained at sea in approximately 3 degrees North, 90 degrees East until 19th May. They then returned to Trincomalee, arriving, 21st May.

39. H.M.S. PHOEBE, who had been patrolling off the South Burma coast since 12th May (refuelling periodically off China Bakir River entrance) established a patrol, on 16th May, halfway between Port Blair and Mergui to deal with any attempt by small craft to evacuate the Andamans towards the Tenasserim coast.

OPERATION ADOPTION (Object – Destruction of Enemy shipping in North Andaman Sea).

40. H.M.S. PHOEBE was subsequently reinforced by H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ and CAUVERY from Rangoon. These ships formed Force 69, and were given the duty of attacking shipping between the Tenasserim coast and the Andamans, and on the Tenasserim coast between latitudes 10 degrees and 15 degrees north.

41. One boat, containing four Indian or Burman fishermen, who were evacuating Port Blair, was intercepted on 20th May. According to the statements by these fishermen the food situation in Port Blair was then acute.

42. The Tenasserim coast, between the limits given above, was patrolled in daylight without sign of any enemy activity on the sea or in the air.

43. While Force 69 operated in the North Andaman Sea, 222 Group of the Royal Air Force operated against shipping in the South Andaman Sea. Liberators of the Group destroyed two small merchant ships – one by depth charges – between Sabang and the Nicobars, on 22nd May.

COASTAL FORCE OPERATIONS IN THE SOUTH BURMA

44. After taking part in the initial assault on Rangoon, M.L.s of Coast Forces carried out regular patrols in all main waterways south of a line joining Bassein and Rangoon. Several enemy craft were shot up on 2nd/3rd May and were later found abandoned. On 5th/6th May Bassein Creek was searched as far as China Bakir without any enemy craft being sighted.

45. A patrol established in the Sittang River Estuary on 9th May, with the object of countering any Japanese attempts to escape eastward, was withdrawn after two M.L.’s had foundered in a tidal bore. There were, fortunately, no casualties.

46. On the nights of 15th/16th May, four M.L.s attacked and destroyed 8 heavily armed supply craft and killed 80 Japanese. One of the M.L.s suffered damage from gunfire and ramming, and one rating was killed.

47. On 22nd May, Bassein was entered by two L.C.P. (L) s (with a small armed guard embarked), who had proceeded there via the inland water route from Rangoon. Their progress was hailed with enthusiasm all along the route. A follow up party of 450 troops, embarked in L.C.M.s, and accompanied by M.L.s, arrived at Bassein on 26th May.

48. In the Irrawaddy River patrols were established between Henzada and Mau-Bin, while blocks were established from Mau-Bin to Bassein.

 

APPENDIX I – SHIPPING

APPENDIX 2 – MINESWEEPING

APPENDIX 3 – REDUCTION OF REAR BASES

 

Appendix I – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoys throughout the East Indies Station, there being no U boat threat.

TROOP CONVOYS

OW.5                USS GENERAL CREELY sailed from Fremantle 11th May and proceeded unescorted to the Equator where she was met by H.M.S. RELENTLESS and escorted to Calcutta where she arrived 20th May.

WO.4B             R.F.A. AORANGI escorted by H.M.S. ODZANI left Trincomalee 8th May for Fremantle where the AORANGI arrived 18th May. ODZANI was detached at about 20 degrees south by C.S.W. PAC. S.F. to join convoy WO DOCKS 4A proceeding to Darwin and which arrived at that port on 24th May having left Cochin on 9th April.

WO.5                USS GENERAL LEROY ELTINGE and GENERAL R.B. CALMAN sailed from Calcutta 9th May where they were met by H.M.S. ROCKET and escorted to Trincomalee for fuelling where they arrived on 11th. Convoy continued on 12th escorted by ROCKET (n.b. pencil addition “to 13th”) as far as the Equator whence it proceeded unescorted to Fremantle arriving 20th May.

WO.6                USS GENERAL CREELY sailed from Calcutta on 27th May where she was met by H.M.S. RACEHORSE and escorted to Trincomalee for fuelling where she arrived 29th May. On 30th May convoy left Trincomalee and GENERAL CREELY was escorted to position SW of Ceylon after which she proceeded independently for Suez, C.N.O. Washington having requested that this ship be routed via Mediterranean.

MISCELLANEOUS CONVOYS

A.F.D. 55          left Trincomalee 25th May towed by EMPHATIC and was joined on 27th by H.M.S. TEST as escort for passage to Rangoon. ETA is 3rd June.

A.F.D. 49          sailed from Aden 16th May towed by FLARE and escorted by SNOWFLAKE for Trincomalee where they are expected about 6th June

REDUCTION OF CORVETTES TO CLASS ‘C’ RESERVE

Admiralty in 29 1956 intimated that if Commander in Chief, East Indies Station had no further use for them on this station corvettes GENISTA, MARGUERITE and VERBENA of the South Atlantic Station were to be sailed for United Kingdom and reduced to Class ‘C’ reserve. These instructions are being complied with.

BURMA ESCORT FORCE

ASSAM, SENNEN, TAFF, SHIEL, NADDER, LINARIA, LULWORTH, LOSSIE, HALLADALE, BANN, DEVERON

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of May the following numbers of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs or were on passage to or from refit:

Based Kilindini                1

Based Colombo             13

                                    __

                                    14

H.M.I.S. GONDWANA had become A/S training ship at Machlimar.

TRENT: LOCHY: SIND and SPEY have had engine defects that have kept from in operative most of the month and SPEY is being sailed to the United Kingdom for reduction to reserve.

 

Appendix 2 – Minesweeping

Ships of the 7th and 37th M/S Flotillas took part in the sweeping of the approaches to the Rangoon River ahead of the assault forces, with negative results;

2. BYMS and MMS carried out initial clearance of a three cable channel up the river to Rangoon, donating 23 Allied magnetic ground mines. Three more mines were detonated by other craft.

3. After clearance of the three cable channel, all minesweepers, except three BYMS, were withdrawn to rear bases. Whilst these remaining three BYMs were engaged in widening this channel, a further 8 ground mines were detonated.

4. The 6th M/S Flotilla arrived on station during the month, and are boiler cleaning and having defects made good in readiness for working up exercises at Mandapam. The 7th M/S Flotilla, who returned to Colombo from Rangoon, will on completion of boiler cleaning, etc, also exercise at Mandapam.

5. The 37th M/S Flotilla is being prepared to undertake the clearance of the deep minefield in the Strait of Bab El Mandeb, off Perim.

6. BYMS and MMS are returning to Mandapam where they will be made ready for further operations.

 

Appendix 3 – Reduction of Rear Bases

Some of the main reductions effected, or being effected, are as follows:

Kilindini             Closing of D.E.M.S., Coastal Force Base, Chart Depot, Firefighting School, Merchant Ship Plot, Minesweeping Base, and Shallow D.G. Range. Escort force drastically reduced, staff on shore transferred and facilities rescued according. Status reduced to Fleet repair base. Local forces transferred to trade or service elsewhere.

Aden                 Use as Escort Force base discontinued and staff transferred. Escort Force disbanded and local forces drastically reduced. Sympathetic reductions, as outcome of above, now taking place.

Addu Atoll         Reduced to status of re fuelling base only. The R.N. Air Station is closed and R.A.F. and Army personnel are all to be evacuated.

Persian Gulf      Base at Khor Kwai placed in care and maintenance. General reduction of Naval Commitments at Persian Gulf ports.

Mauritius           General reduction of commitments. R.N. Air Station transferred to R.A.F. Use of Grand Port discontinued

Seychelles         Port War Signal Station and D/F Station closed, and oil fuel pipe line not required. Boom to be recovered and stored.

 

S E C R E T

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

PART II

Review of Period November 22nd 1944 – May 3rd 1945

1. The entry into Rangoon on 3rd May, of troops put ashore by the Royal Navy, may be regarded as ending a phase of the East Indies Fleet’s Offensive.

 

2. That the fall of Rangoon should have coincided with the surrender of the German armed forces in Europe gives to the former event a strong claim to be regarded as a very satisfactory operation with very limited resources. If the release of naval units is made possible by the ending of the European war, an increase in naval strength in this theatre may not be impossible.

 

3. The Fleet’s Activities have, in the period under review, been directed towards three main ends:

 

(a). The denial of the Indian Ocean to the Japanese and, therefore, the cutting of supply lines to her armies in Burma, and to such garrisons as exist in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

 

(b). The destruction of war potential (with the accent on oil) of shipping, shore and harbour installations, workshops, etc.

 

(c). Close support of the Army in Burma in that period of the campaign – the fighting in the Arakan – where circumstances made such support both eminently possible and desirable.

 

4. The major part of the task under head (a) has been shared by submarine and destroyer forces. The success of our arms in Burma and the conditions of deprivation under which, it has been established, the Japanese in the Andamans are now existing, are testimony to the effectiveness of their work.

 

5. In the course of regular anti shipping sweeps in the Andaman Sea and off the west coast of Sumatra, destroyers have sailed with impunity with sight of the enemy held coast, and have met with little or no opposition, apart from spasmodic air attack.

 

6. If the supply vessels which have been, and are being destroyed are not of great tonnage, it is because the enemy has no sizeable vessels left for service in South East Asia – or is forced to rely on small landing craft, not daring to venture into seas where we have established supremacy.

 

7. The first and only appearance of any major Japanese warship in this theatre during the period – the sortie of a NACHI class cruiser from Singapore – was brief and disastrous for the intruder.

 

8. Under head (b), valuable work has been done by our carrier borne aircraft, backed up by bombardment forces which have included battleships, cruisers, and destroyers.

 

9. The most successful air strike of the period was that made against oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra, in the latter half of January, when great damage was inflicted on installations that had previously been a major source of supply of aviation spirit. This strike ws carried out by most of the powerful carrier-force yet sailed from Ceylon – including as it did, H.M.S. ILLUSTRIOUS, INDOMITABLE, INDEFATIGABLE, and VICTORIOUS. The force Joined the British Pacific Fleet after the operation.

 

10. Photographic reconnaissance, while must of necessity be denied public recognition, has also been very effectively carried out by naval aircraft.

 

11. Operations in the Arakan – which comprised ‘a campaign within a campaign’ – involved the participation of all types from ships from landing craft to capital ships. While the main job of the naval units was to land and lift men and supplies, cut the enemy’s lines of retreat, and bombard enemy positions, a multiplicity of other tasks were imposed by circumstances. From these “emergency calls” and from the fact that the whole campaign was conducted in the closest possible cooperation with the Army and in waters that are a treacherous maze, invaluable lessons were learned for the conduct of any future operations of the like nature.

 

12. Briefly, the picture now represented by the naval situation followed the unopposed entry into Rangoon, is of the western area of the Station virtually free from threat of any kind and of little surface opposition elsewhere, while all available strength is being prepared for the first important strikes in the next, post Burma, phase.

  


 

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

 


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

 

JUNE 1945

 

PART I

Although June as uneventful by comparison with May it was, nevertheless, not without a certain measure of successful activity.

2.  A strike by carrier borne aircraft against Japanese airfields in north east Sumatra – following successful photographic reconnaissance over southern Malaya – was attended by particularly satisfactory results.

3.  Other operations involving employment of fleet units were restricted to anti shipping sweeps between Nicobar Islands and Sabang, and maintenance of control on the east coast of the Andamans and on the Tenasserim coast.

4.  The 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron – H.M.S. VENERABLE (Flag of Rear Admiral C. Harcourt, CB, CBE), VENGEANCE, and COLOSSUS accompanied by the destroyers TYRIAN and TUSCAN arrived on the station, and a programme for the training of air crews during the month that the squadron was to be in Ceylon and South India, was agreed upon and put into effect.

5.  The Commander in Chief, East Indies Fleet – Admiral Sir A.J. Power, KCB, CVO – was present at the Victory Parade and Review at Rangoon on 15th June.

OPERATION ADOPTION

Object – Maintenance of Anti Shipping Patrols in North Andaman Sea

6.  On 1st June CEYLON relieved the PHOEBE as Senior Officer Force 69 -  which had been constituted in May – and patrol was maintained by CEYLON and either two or three sloops on the east coast of the Andamans and on the Tenasserim Coast until 12th June, when CEYLON left patrol for Rangoon.

7.  The code word ADOPTION and Force 69 lapsed on 15th June, patrol was subsequently being maintained by one sloop only.  The sloops engaged on this duty during the month were CAUVERY, GODAVARI, KISTNA and NARBADA.  The frigate LOSSIE also spent 8 days on patrol.

8.  Further evidence of the conditions of privation existing in the Andamans was obtained when KISTNA, on 4th June, intercepted a small boat containing 3 native convicts.  These men stated that they had been allowed to fish off Port Blair by the Japanese owing to the shortage of food in the islands and that they had been driven by the weather to the Tenasserim Coast.

9.  On the 8th June, KISTNA sighted about 15 large sampans drawn up on a beach on Pulo Myang in the Gregory Island group, Forrest Strait, and destroyed the larger part of them by bombardment.

10.  No enemy activity was observed on these coasts throughout the month.

OPERATION IRREGULAR

Object – Anti Shipping Sweeps by Destroyers in Great Channel

11.  Force 65, comprising the 10th Destroyer Flotilla – H.M.S. TARTAR (D 10), ESKIMO, NUBIAN, PENN, and PALADIN – sailed from Trincomalee on 5 June to attack shipping between the Nicobar Islands and Sabang.  On the same day, Force 64, consisting of frigate TEST and R.F.A. OLWEN, was sailed from Rangoon to act as a fuelling force to the westward of the Nicobars.

12.  H.M.S. PALADIN was detached on 7th June to proceed to the Batu Islands, off the west coast of Sumatra, to carry out a special operation.  Later it was also necessary to detach the PENN in order that one destroyer should be maintained in the vicinity of these islands.  In the course of these duties, H.M.S. PENN, on 12th June, destroyed a Japanese landing craft containing about 20 men.

13.  During the night of 7th/8th June, Force 65 (less PALADIN) carried out a sweep between Great Nicobar Island and Sabang without result, and refuelled from Force 64 on the 9th.

14.  On the morning of 11th June, H.M. S/M TRIDENT, patrolling off Diamond Point, reported a northbound L.S.T. escorted by a submarine chaser.  Orders were given for 6 Liberators of 222 Group, R.A.F., to begin a search at dawn on the 12th, but TARTAR, NUBIAN, and ESKIMO came up the enemy ships off Rondo Island, about 20 miles north west of Sabang, shortly after daylight on the 12th, and both were destroyed by gunfire and torpedo.  The L.S.T. type vessel was found to be an auxiliary of about 1500 tons.

(n.b. 15 skipped)

16.  While retiring to the westward during the forenoon the destroyers were subject to intermittent bombing attacks by a few aircraft, but suffered neither damage nor casualties.  All ships subsequently returned to harbour, H.M.S. PENN, leaving the Batu Islands on 14th June and PALADIN p.m. on the 15th.

OPERATION BALSAM

Object – Photographic Reconnaissance, Southern Malaya

17.  This operation was carried out by Force 63, consisting of H.M.S. ROYALIST (AC 21), SUFFOLK, STALKER, KHEDIVE, AMEER, ROTHERHAM (D 11), RACEHORSE, REDOUBT, RELENTLESS, and ROEBUCK.

18.  The Force sailed from Trincomalee on 14th June.  From flying off position in the northern approaches to the Malacca Straits, aircraft of 888 Squadron (embarked in AMEER) made successful photographic reconnaissance flights over southern Malaya on the 18th, 19th, and 20th June.

19.  Fighter strikes against the airfields at Lhoksemawe, Medan, and Binjai were made on 20th June by aircraft of 809 Squadron (Seafires, making their first strike against Sumatra), 804, and 808 Squadrons (Hellcats).

20.  Runways at Medan and Binjai were put out of action with 500 lb bombs.  Attacks on grounded enemy aircraft resulted in 3 being destroyed, 7 left burning and probably destroyed and 9 damaged.  Aerodrome buildings, locomotives, and rolling stock were also effectively strafed.  Off Medan 2 junks, - one carrying oil – were attacked and set on fire.

21.  Our losses were 1 Hellcat shot down by A.A. fire.  Force 63 was apparently not detected throughout the operation.

BURMA OPERATIONS BY COASTAL FORCES

22.  On 16th June, four H.D.M.L.s returned to Rangoon from 10 days’ patrol in the Bassein area, during which they had forced the surrender of a unit of 21 Japanese soldiers, including one officer.  This is thought to be the first surrender of a complete, fully armed unit in the Burma theatre.

23.  Nine M.L.s with one company of troops embarked searched the island waterway to the northward of Bassein.  Though no Japanese were detected, this show of force had a salutary effect on local Dacoits.

24.  Naval Force Commander Burma was withdrawn on 17th June, his duties being taken over by N.O.I.C. Rangoon.

25.  Ships at Rangoon for the Victory Parade and Review on 15th June including H.M.S. CUMBERLAND (wearing the Flag of F.O. Air, E.I.), H.M.S. CEYLON, H.M.I.S. KISTNA, H.M.S. NITH, and ships of the Burma Coast Escort Force.

BRIGADE LANDING EXERCISE

26.  The following ships took part in a Brigade Landing Exercise at Cocanda on 24th/26th June.  H.M.S. ROYALIST (AC 21), HUNTER, EMPEROR, LARGS, RACEHORSE, ROEBUCK.

SUBMARINE OPERATIONS

27.  H.M. Submarines of the 2nd Flotilla continued offensive patrols against shipping in the Malacca Straits and also carried out a number of special operations.

APPENDIX 1 – SHIPPING

APPENDIX 2 – MINESWEEPING

APPENDIX 3 – TORPEDO

 

Appendix 1 – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoys throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciable U boat threat.

TROOP CONVOYS

OW.6                U.S.S. GENERAL W.F. HASE sailed from Fremantle 4th June and proceeded unescorted to the equator where she was met by H.M.S. VERULAM and escorted to Calcutta where they arrived 13th June.

WO.7                U.S.S. GENERAL W.F.F. HASE sailed from Calcutta 23rd June and was met by H.M.S. VERULAM and escorted to Trincomalee for fuelling, where they arrived 25th.  Convoy left Trincomalee on 26th and was escorted to a position S.W. of Ceylon after which GENERAL W.F. HASE proceeded independently to Suez.

MISCELLANEOUS

H.M.S. ROSEBAY left Colombo 22nd June towing damaged BYMS 2005 to Bombay where they arrived 29th June.  ROSEBAY returned to Colombo.

H.M.S. FISHGUARD left Aden 26th May escorting 9 M.F.V.s to Bombay where they arrived 4th June.  Subsequently FISHGUARD endeavoured to tow 2 Dhows from Bombay to Mandapam leaving Bombay on 7th June but monsoon conditions were such she returned to Bombay and proceeded independently, arriving Colombo 13th June.

EAST INDIES ESCORT FORCE

Conversion to Fighter Direction Ships

Four frigates of the Escort Force are being converted to this purpose during their current refits in South Africa:  AWE, KALE, SWALE, and JED

Manning of Frigates by S.A.N.F.

The S.A.N.F. have asked to take over the manning of four frigates.  AWE, KALE, SWALE, and TEVIOT have been nominated.

Manning of Frigates by R.I.N.

Admiralty have now proposed that eleven frigates shall be turned over to the R.I.N. for manning and this is being investigated.

BURMA COAST ESCORT FORCE

The following ships were employed in escort duties on the Burma Coast during the month.

ASSAM, SENNEN, TAFF, SHIEL, SIND, LULWORTH, LOSSIE, DEVERON, TULIP, TEST, NADDER, MEADOWSWEET

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of June the following numbers of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs or were on passage to or from refit:

Based Kilindini                            1

Based Colombo                         13

                                                ___

                                                14

TRENT continued defective throughout the month, but will sail for refit in South Africa as soon as emergency repairs are made.

TOTLAND on return from refit in South Africa was found to be defective beyond capabilities of this station and sailed for U.K. 26th June for reduction to reserve.

 

Appendix 2 – Minesweeping

FLEET MINESWEEPING

Ships of the 7th M/S Flotilla returned to Colombo at the end of May and beginning of June following operations at Rangoon.  After boiler cleaning at Colombo they have carried out minesweeping exercises and training from Mandapam.

2.  The 6th M/S Flotilla following a similar maintenance and training programme, proceeded to Trincomalee at the end of June in readiness for an impending operation.

AUXILIARY MINESWEEPERS

3.  All auxiliary minesweepers, except 3 BYMS remaining at Rangoon, have been withdrawn from the Bay of Bengal for maintenance and training at Mandapam.  Those left at Rangoon are operating under the orders of N.O.I.C.

SWEEPS IN RANGOON AND BASSEIN RIVERS

4.  9 more ground mines, presumed allied, were swept during operations carried out by BYMS in the last week of May to widen the swept Channel to Rangoon.

5.  With the 23 swept in the initial operation, the total of ground mines swept in the Rangoon River now stands at 32.

6.  Reconnaissance of the Bassein River between 29th May and 8th June revealed a number of Japanese moored mines – similar to type 93 – in the river, some of which were watching at low water.  Six of these mines were exploded or sunk by gunfire, and N.O.I.C. Rangoon has been ordered to clear the remainder.

M/S MAINTENANCE SHIP

7.  H.M.S. CORBRAE arrived at Colombo from U.K. on 12th June.  She is a very welcome addition to the maintenance and repair facilities of the station.  She has already been boiler cleaning Fleet minesweepers and will shortly proceed to Mandapam to assist in maintenance of auxiliary sweepers.

 

Appendix 3 – Torpedo

TORPEDO

In the course of Operation IRREGULAR, 8 torpedoes were fired by H.M.S. TARTAR and ESKIMO at a landing craft near North Sumatra.  The target was sunk.

DEGAUSSING DEPERMING

2.  Landing Craft required deperming at Mandapam during the month.  The Deperming Ship, H.M.S. BUSHWOOD was sailed, but the weather proved too rough and she returned to Trincomalee where facilities were available for Landing Craft.

CONTROLLED MINING

3.  H.M.S. MANCHESTER CITY returned to U.K. during the month for release to trade.

MINELAYING

4.  Minelaying was continued from the Calcutta area by 231 Group, R.A.F., but on a decreased scale due to monsoon weather.  Laying was as follows:

(a).

Satahib

 15

(b).

TACHIN (near Bangkok)

9

(c).

MEKLONG

 3

(d).

Bangkok

15

(e).

Chumphorn

 8

(f).

Mergui

10

(g).

Praohnab Soukan

 4

(h).

Fell Passage

5

(i).

Domel Island

10

(j)

Pakchan River

8

(k).

Bangkok

 18

(l).

Bandon

12

5.  No further laying will not take place in the Bay of Bengal or Malacca Straits owing to insufficiency of targets.

6.  Mines were sent to Cocos Island during the month.

 


 

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

 


click to enlarge

 

 

JULY 1945

 

PART I

Japanese suicide aircraft were employed for the first time against again East Indies Fleet force, during minesweeping operations off Phuket – the second of major operations of this nature carried out during July.

2. The enemy’ attacks resulted in damage and casualties in H.M.S. VESTAL of the Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla – damage necessitating her being sunk by our own forces – and some hull damaged to H.M.S. SUSSEX above her waterline.  The efficiency of H.M.S. SUSSEX was not impaired.  One suicide aircraft was shot down by H.M.S. AMEER and two by H.M.S. SUSSEX.

3.  The significant of the enemy’s introduction of “suicide” tactics in this theatre, was the probability of their repetition, is fully appreciated.

4.  In the operations off Phuket, as in the month’s first operation off Car Nicobar, our minesweepers were supported by larger units, including carriers, and successful bombardments and air strikes were carried out against selected targets.

5.  Patrol of the Tenasserim Coast between longitudes 10 degrees North and 14-30 degrees North was maintained by Royal Indian sloops until 27th July.

6.  The Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding, Third Battle Squadron, was transferred from H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH to H.M.S. NELSON on 12th July.  H.M.S. QUEEN ELIZABETH subsequently left the station for the United Kingdom.  H.M.S. SUFFOLK also sailed for the United Kingdom during the month, while H.M.S. SUSSEX joined the 5th Cruiser Squadron.  F.S. RICHELIEU proceeded to South Africa for half yearly docking.

OPERATION COLLIE

Object:  Sweeping mines off Car Nicobar; bombardment and air strikes directed against appropriate targets.

7.  The operation was conducted by Rear Admiral W.R. Patterson, CB, CVO, Rear Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron, and the following forces were employed:

FORCE 61:  HMS NIGERIA (Flag of Rear Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron), H.M.S. AMEER (with 896 Squadron of Hellcats embarked), H.M.S. EMPEROR (with 800 Squadron of Hellcats), ROEBUCK, ESKIMO, and VIGILANT.

FORCE 62:  (The Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla):  H.M.S. MELITA (Commander D.L. Johnson, RN, Senior Officer Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla), GOZO, ELNNOX, PELORUS, PERSIAN, POSTILLION, and LIGHTFOOT, with IMMERSAY and LINGAY as danlayers.

8.  Forces sailed from Trincomalee a.m. on 2nd July and proceeded direct to Car Nicobar.  Destroyers and minesweepers fuelled from the carriers on passage and as necessary during the operation.

9.  Minesweepers operated off Car Nicobar daily from 5th to 10th July, inclusive.  A total of 167 moored mines were swept, all to the eastward of the island.

10.  To cover the activities of the minesweepers, H.M.S. NIGERIA and destroyers bombarded gun positions and targets of opportunity on the island, while Hellcats carried out a series of strikes, during which radar stations were put out of action and all craft seen in the area rendered unseaworthy.

11.  The only enemy reaction was accurate A.A. fire.  Four of our aircraft were shot down, but all pilots were rescued inshore, one by a Walrus aircraft flown off from H.M.S. EMPEROR and the remainder by destroyers who drew ineffective machine gun fire.

12.  Precautionary measures against a landing, these including the erection of stakes on airfield runways, were observed to be taken by the enemy.

13.  On 7th July, Nancowry was subjected to bombardments and air strikes by Force 61, operating in heavy rain squalls.  Fires and explosions were observed in the area of Naval Point and two coasters were left on fire.  Two of our Hellcats were shot down by A.A. fire, the pilot of one being rescued.

14.  At first light on 11th July, twenty four Hellcats attacked Kotaraja and Lhonga Airfields in northwest Sumatra.  No aircraft were observed on either airfield, nor at Sabang, but runways and buildings were bombed and strafed.  After being hit by A.A. fire, one Hellcat force landed in the sea, the pilot being picked up by a destroyer.  One Japanese aircraft which approached our force was shot down by fighters.

OPERATION LIVERY

Object:  Sweeping of mines off Phuket; bombardment and air strikes directed against appropriate targets.

15.  This operation was conducted by Vice Admiral H.C.T. Walker, CB, Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron and the following forces were employed:

Force 63 Group 1:  H.M.S. NELSON (Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron), SUSSEX, EMPRESS (with 896 Squadron of Hellcats embarked), AMEER (with 804 Squadron of Hellcats), ROTHERHAM (Captain (D), 11th Destroyer Flotilla), RACEHORSE, RAIDER, PALADIN

Group 2:  (Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla):  H.M.S. PLUCKY (Senior Officer Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla), SQUIRREL, PINCHER, VESTAL, and RIFLEMAN, with H.M.I.S. PUNJAB and DECCAN as attached danlayers.

16.  The force sailed from Trincomalee on 19th July and passed through Sombrero Channel during the night of 22nd/23rd July, and arrived off Phuket a.m. on 24th July.

17.  The area which had been given first priority was cleared of mines of as a result of operations carried out of 24th, 25th, and 26th July.  In all, twenty four mines were swept.

18.  One of the minesweepers, H.M.S. SQUIRREL, was mined forward on the 24th.  Two and a half hours after hitting the mine she took a heavy list, and had to be sunk by our own forces.  Seven ratings were lost.

19.  In strikes against targets on the Kraa Isthumus, our aircraft achieved commendable results.  Three small ships were destroyed and eleven others strafed in the Singora area, while fifteen locomotives were put out of action and rolling stock strafed on the railway system between Bandon and Dhungsong.  A camp at Huatsei was bombed.  One Sungei Patani airfield six grounded aircraft were destroyed, three left burning and two others hit.  In all these operations our loss was one Hellcat.

20.  On the 26th July attacks by suicide aircraft were launched against units of Force 63.  One of these aircraft was shot down in flames by H.M.S. AMEER and two were shot down by H.M.S. SUSSEX.  H.M.S. VESTAL was hit, caught fire, and had to be sunk by our own forces.  Fifteen ratings were lost.  H.M.S. SUSSEX was also hit and sustained hull damage above the waterline, but remained fully efficient.

21.  Force 63 left the area of operation p.m. on 26th July and returned to Trincomalee.

TENASSERIM COAST PATROL

22.  Royal Indian Navy sloops maintained patrol off the Tenasserim Coast between latitudes 10 degrees North and 14-30 degrees North until 27th July, when this patrol was withdrawn.  No enemy craft were sighted.  Ships employed were H.M.I.S. NARBADA, GODAVARI, and KISTNA.  H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ, who broke down, was replaced by H.M.S. TEST.

23.  A boat from H.M.S. TEST was sent into the entrance to Tavoy River on 13th July to obtain shipping intelligence and to interrogate the natives.  This boat came under fire from concealed light automatic weapons and rifles on the east side of Tavoy Point, and one officer and two ratings were killed.

24.  Having proceeded to Rangoon to land casualties, H.M.S. TEST returned to Tavoy Point and bombarded the enemy positions.  No results could be observed. Later in her patrol, H.M.S. TEST intercepted a boat containing seven Burmans who had escaped from Port Blair.  The report made by these me confirmed previous accounts of the starvation conditions existing in the Andamans.

SUBMARINE OPERATIONS

25.  Offensive patrols against shipping in the Malacca Straits were maintained throughout the period by H.M. Submarines of the Second Flotilla.

APPENDIX 1 – SHIPPING

APPENDIX 2 -- MINESWEEPING

 

Appendix I – Shipping

CONVOYS

All shipping continued to run free of trade convoys throughout the East Indies Station, there being no appreciate U boat threat.

TROOP CONVOYS

OW.7                U.S.S. GENERAL H.B. FREEMAN sailed from Fremantle 29th June and proceeded unescorted to the Equator, where she was met by H.M.S. VERULAM and escorted to Calcutta where they arrive 8th July.

OW.8                U.S.S. GENERAL E.T. COLLINS and GENERAL M.M. PATRICK sailed from Fremantle 21st July and proceeded unescorted to the Equator where they were met by H.M.S. REDOUBT and escorted where they arrived 30th July.

WO.8                U.S.S. GENERAL H.B. FREEMAN sailed from Calcutta 15th July and was met off Sandheads by H.M.S. PENN and escorted to Trincomalee for fuelling where they arrived 18th July.  Convoy left Trincomalee 19th July and was escorted to 3 degrees South by H.M.S. PENN, whence she proceeded unescorted to Fremantle to arrive 27th July.  H.M.S. PENN returned to Trincomalee.

MISCELLANEOUS

H.M.S. SMILAX escorted five Motor Fishing Vessels to Rangoon, leaving Trincomalee 2nd July and arriving 8th.

EAST INDIES ESCORT FORCE

Five of the expected reinforcements arrived during the month.

BURMA COAST ESCORT FORCE

The following ships were employed on escort duties on the Burma Coast during the month.

SIND, SMILAX, MEADOWSWEET, TULIP,  MONKSHOOD, SNOWFLAKE, LULWORTH, SENNEN,  GORLESTON, TAFF, LOSSIE, NADDER, SHIEL, LOCHY, TEST

AIR/SEA RESCUE

Admiralty have accepted the responsibility of ocean Air/Sea Rescue on this station.  Twelve corvettes are to be appropriated for this duty as soon as possible.  Meantime, H.M.S. DEVERON is temporarily stationed at Cocos Island to meet commitments there.  H.M.S. ROSEBAY and H.M.I.S. ASSAM were also sent to Karachi for the same purpose.

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of July, the following numbers of escort vessels were undergoing refit and major repairs or were on passage to or from refit.

Based Kilindini                           1

Based Colombo                         10        

                                                __

                                                11

Emergency repairs to TRENT were completed towards the end of the month and she proceeded to refit in South Africa.  LINARIA defective beyond station resources sailed for the United Kingdom for reduction to reserve.

H.M.I.S. HINDUSTAN was returned to Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy for use as a Surveying or Training ship being no longer in a fit operational condition.

H.M.S. THYME continued to carry out miscellaneous duties at Ade whilst still awaiting the flight of Motor Fishing Vessels requiring escorts to Bombay.

 

Appendix 2 – Minesweeping

Two offensive minesweeping operations were carried out during the month.  In the first, Operation COLLIE, the Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla (Senior Officer, Commander D.L. Johnston, RN, in H.M.S. MELITA) swept 167 moored mines off the east coast of Car Nicobar between 5th and 10th July, both dates inclusive.

2.  The second sweep, Operation LIVERY, was carried out by the Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla (Senior Officer, Commander A.E.P. Doran, RN, in HMS PLUCKY) in the southern approaches to Phuket between 24th and 27th July.  Twenty four mines were swept.

3.  H.M.S. SQUIRREL (Lieutenant Commander M. Buist, RN) was lost as result of striking a mine on 24th July, and H.M.S. VESTAL (Lieutenant Commander C.W. Porter, DSC, RN) as a result of attack by a Japanese suicide aircraft on 26th July.

4.  Early in the month, Naval Officer in Charge, Rangoon, reported his intention to start the clearance of the Bassein River in the middle of the month.  Using the three B.Y.M.S.  based on Rangoon, operations were expected to last about ten days.  No report has yet been received.

 

SECRET

NOTES FOR EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY – JULY 1945

OPERATIONS SECTION

(n.b. this appears to be a repeat, but is included because it appears separately in the file and does contain some detail not previously shown)

Minesweeping Operations

Two minesweeping operations have been carried out during the month. Operation COLLIE off Car Nicobar and Operation LIVERY off Phuket.  In both cases the minesweepers were supported by larger units including carriers, who carried out bombardments and air strikes on appropriate targets.

Operation COLLIE (conducted by Fifth Cruiser Squadron)

Force 61           NIGERIA (Fifth Cruiser Squadron), AMEER (896 Squadron. Hellcats), EMPEROR (800 Squadron.  Hellcats), ROEBUCK, ESKIMO, VIGILANT

Force 62           (Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla), MELITA (Commander D.L. Johnston, RN, Senior Officer, Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla), GOZO, LENNOX, PELORUS, PERSIAN, POSTILLION, LIGHTFOOT; IMMERSAY and LINGAY as danlayers

Forces left Trincomalee a.m. 2nd July and proceeded direct to Car Nicobar.  Destroyers and sweepers fuelled from the carriers on passage and as necessary during the operation.

Minesweepers operated off Car Nicobar daily from 5th to 10th July, inclusive, during which time they swept 167 moored mines, all to the eastward of the island.

NIGERIA and destroyers bombarded gun positions and targets of opportunity on the island, while Hellcats made a series of strikes.  The only enemy reaction was accurate A.A. fire, which shot down four of our aircraft.  All the pilots were rescued close inshore, one by a Walrus aircraft from H.M.S. EMPEROR, and the remainder from destroyers who drew ineffective machine gun fire.

The enemy were observed to be taking precautions against a landing, including the erection of stakes on airfield runways.

Force 61 carried out bombardments and air strikes of Nancowry on 7th July in heavy rain squalls.  Fires and explosions were observed in the area of Naval Point and two coasters were left on fire.  Two Hellcats were shot down by A.A. fire, the pilot of one being rescued.

At first light on 11th July, twenty four Hellcats attacked Kotaraja and Lhonga airfields.  No aircraft were seen on the airfield, nor at Sabang, but runways and buildings were bombed and strafed.  One Hellcat made a forced landing in the sea after being hit by A.A. fire, but the pilot was rescued by a destroyer.  One Dinah approached our force and was shot down by fighters.

 

Operation LIVERY (conducted by Third Battle Squadron)

Force 63           Group 1                                                            Group 2

            NELSON (Third Battle Squadron)                        PLUCKY (Senior Officer)

            SUSSEX                                                           SQUIRREL

            EMPRESS (896 Squadron Hellcats                     PINCHER

            AMEER (804 Squadron Hellcats)                        VESTAL

            ROTHERHAM (Captain (D) 11th                                    RIFLEMAN

            Destroyer Flotilla           

            RACEHORSE                                                    H.M.I.S. PUNJAB (attached danlayer)

            RAIDER                                                             H.M.I.S. DECCAN (attached danlayer

            PALADIN

Force left Trincomalee 19th July, passed through Sombrero Channel during the night of 22nd/23rd July and arrived off Phuket a.m. 24th.

Minesweeping operations were carried out 24th, 25th, and 26th, during which the period the area which had been given the first priority was cleared, twenty four mines being sunk.

H.M.S. SQUIRREL was mined forward on 24th and two and a half hours later took a heavy list and had to be sunk by our own forces.  About seven ratings were lost.

Aircraft carried out strikes on Kraa Isthmus, in the course of which three small ships were destroyed and eleven others strafed in the Singora area.  Fifteen locomotives were put out of action, and wagons strafed, on the railway line between Bandon and Dhungsong.  A camp at Huatsei was bombed.  During a strike on Sungei Patani, six enemy aircraft were destroyed, three left burning, and two others hit.  Our loss from all these operations was one Hellcat.

Force 63 was attacked by suicide aircraft on 26th, H.M.S. AMEER shot one down in flames.  H.M.S. VESTAL was hit, caught fire and had to be sunk by our own forces.  Eight officers and eighty seven were rescued.  H.M.S. SUSSEX was also hit and sustained hull damage above the waterline, but remained fully efficient.

Force 63 left the operating area p.m. 26th July and returned to Trincomalee.

 

TENASSERIM COAST PATROL

Royal Indian Naval sloops maintained patrol off Tenasserim Coast between latitudes 10 degrees North and 14-30 degrees North until 27th July when this patrol was withdrawn.  No enemy craft were sighted.  Ships taking part H.M.I.S. NARBADA, GODAVARI, KISTNA.  H.M.S. TEST carried out in patrol in place of H.M.I.S. SUTLEJ, who broke down.

On 13th July, a board from H.M.S. TEST, which had been sent into the entrance to Tavoy River to obtain shipping intelligence and interrogate the natives, was fired upon by concealed light automatic weapons and rifle fire on the east side of Tavoy Point.  One officer and two ratings were killed.  H.M.S. TEST returned to Rangoon to land casualties and subsequently returned to Tavoy Point and bombarded the enemy position.  No result could be observed.

Later in her patrol, H.M.S. TEST intercepted a boat containing seven Burmese who had escaped from Port Blair, who reported conditions of starvation amongst the inhabitants there.

 

Minesweeping Notes for Eastern Fleet War Diary – July 1945

1.  Two offensive minesweeping operations were carried out during the month.

In the first operation, COLLIE, the Sixth Minesweeping Flotilla (Senior Officer, Commander D.L. Johnston, RN, in H.M.S. MELITA) swept 167 mines off the east coast Car Nicobar between 5th and 10th July both dates inclusive.

2.  The second operation, LIVERY, was carried out by the Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla (Senior Officer, Commander A.E.P. DORAN, RN, in H.M.S. PLUCKY) in the southern entrance to Phuket between 24th and 26th July.  A total of twenty four mines were swept.  H.M.S. SQUIRREL (Lieutenant Commander M. Buist, Royal Navy) was lost as the result of striking a mine on 24th July, and H.M.S. VESTAL (Lieutenant Commander C.W. Porter, DSC, Royal Navy) as a result of attack by a Japanese suicide aircraft on 26th July.

3.  Early in the month, Naval Officer in charge, Rangoon reported his intention to start the clearance of the Bassein River in the middle of the month.  Using the three B.Y.M.S. based on Rangoon, operations were expected to last about ten days.  No report has yet been received.

 


 

EASTERN FLEET WAR DIARY

 


Area of operations, click to enlarge

 

 

AUGUST 1945

 

PART I

Although plans had already been prepared for the occupation of Singapore if the Japanese capitulated their sensational decision to accept the Potsdam surrender terms, which was made known on 11th August, presented the East Indies Fleet with the need for much additional planning, and subsequently replanning, of the operations for the occupation of enemy held territories in South East Asia.

2.  At the time of the surrender decision a carrier force was at sea, proceeding to carry out strikes in the Penang and Medan areas.  This operation had to be cancelled, and plans made instead to occupy Singapore, Penang, and Sabang.  There followed a period of fleet activity more intense than any experienced during the years of hostilities.

3.  Further recasting of original plans was necessary because Japanese orders for stopping hostilities took so long to promulgate in this theatre, and also no landings were permitted until the final instrument of surrender was signed in Tokyo, this being delayed beyond the original anticipated date.

4.  These delays entailed the maintenance of some of our forces at sea for an extended period.  Their supply, had further, to be effected without calling upon ships already allocated for supplying the Fleet in accordance with plans made prior to the Japanese surrender for the reconquest of Malaya and Singapore.

5.  The passage for fleet units convoys to Singapore depended on clearing a safe channel through the Malacca Straits.  The negotiations at Penang, during which the Japanese had to hand over charts of their minefields, therefore, had considerable bearing on this.

6.  The position at the end of the month was that forces were standing off Penang and Sabang awaiting the signature in Tokyo before landing occupation troops; while minesweepers were on the eve of beginning their clearance of the safe channel to Singapore.  Details of the various operations follow.

OPERATION CARSON:  Object:  to attack shipping and airfields in Penang and Medan areas.

7.  This operation was to be carried out by Force 61, consisting of H.M.S. ROYALIST (Flag of Rear Admiral G.N. Oliver, CB, DSO, Rear Admiral Commanding 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron), H.M. ships AMEER, EMPEROR, EMPRESS, KHEDIVE, SHAH,TARTAR (Captain (D), Tenth Destroyer Flotilla), PENN, VIGILANT, and VERULAM.  The Force sailed from Trincomalee on 10th August, the intention being to carry out the planned attacks on 14th and 15th August.

8.  On the 11th August, when the news was received of Japan’s announced willingness to accept the Allies’ surrender terms, the Force was ordered to remain west of 90 degrees East.  Subsequently, all ships returned to Trincomalee, arriving on 15th August.

SUSPENSION OF OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

9.  The following Station General Message was made on 15th August:  “SUSPEND OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS AGAINST JAPANESE FORCES.”

PLANS FOR OCCUPATION OF ENEMY HELD TERRITORIES

10.  The following operations were planned

(A).  Operation TIDERACE:  Object – to occupy Singapore as soon as possible after Japan’s Capitulation, Securing as a Preliminary Measure an Advanced Anchorage and All Weather Air Base At Penang.

This plan allowed for the occupation of Penang by the 3rd Commando Brigade – to be lifted from Bombay in L.S.I.’s and L.S.T.’s and landed in assault formation – and the occupation two days later of Singapore by the 5th Indian Division, lifted from Rangoon in Personnel and M.T. Ships.  The choice of the 3rd Commando Brigade and 5th Division for this operation was governed by availability of troops and shipping, and by the need to cause the least possible dislocation of plans for imminent large scale amphibious operations.  Negotiations between representatives of the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, and local Japanese Commanders were to take place on board H.M. Ships the day before the landings, both of which were to be covered by H.M. Ships and Naval aircraft, and a detailed minesweeping programme was required.

(B).  Operation JURIST:  Object:  Occupation of Penang by Fleet Royal Marines, to Avoid Delay Inherent in Mounting and Lifting 3rd Commando Brigade from Bombay.

(C).  Operation BEECHAM:  Object:  Occupation of Sabang or some smaller port by a smaller Force of Royal Marines.

 

FLEET MOVEMENTS TO IMPLEMENT OPERATION JURIST

11.  On 15th August, Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, CB, Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron, was ordered to carry out operation JURIST, D Day being fixed as 21st August.  In accordance with these orders, the following forces sailed from Trincomalee.

Force 11:          H.M.S. NELSON (Flag of Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron), NIGERIA, CEYLON, HUNTER, STALKER, SHAH, ATTACKER, TARTAR (Captain (D), Tenth Destroyer Flotilla), PETARD, VOLAGE, PRINCESS BEATRIX, QUEEN EMMA

Force 12:          H.M.S. VERULAM, VIGILANT, 8 B.Y.M.S.

Force 13:          H.M.S. PENN, L.S.T. 383 (loaded with vehicles)

Force 14:          H.M.S. CALPE, R.F.A. EMPIRE SALVAGE, R.F.A. BELA

Force 68:          H.M.S. LONDON (Broad Pendant of Commodore A.L. Poland, CB, DSO, DSC, Commodore (D), RAIDER, ROCKET

Force 157:        H.M.I.S. GODAVARI, BARACUDA, H.M.S. MULL OF GALLOWAY, tanker CROMWELL, 26 M.L.s of the 34th, 38th, and 56th M.L. Flotilla, 9 H.D.M.L. of the 110th Flotilla.

12.  It was while these forces were on passage eastward that delays in negotiations, and in the arrival of the Japanese Emperor’s orders to case hostilities in South East Asia became apparent.  D Day had, therefore, to be postponed and on 20th August all forces concentrated at Trinkat Champlong on the north east coast of Great Nicobar Island.  This bay provided shelter from wind and swell, and M.L.s and B.Y.M.S. were able to refuel at the anchorage while larger units remained at seas in the vicinity.

13.  By this time it had also become apparent that no landings in this theatre would be permitted by the Allied High Command until the final instrument of surrender had been signed at Tokyo.  According, all plans had once again to be adjusted.

PRELIMINARY MOVEMENT OF FLEET MINESWEEPERS

14.  Any operations to the southward of the one fathom bank in the Malacca Straits were dependent on establishing a safe channel through the minefield in the area, so all available Fleet Minesweepers were sailed from Colombo on 15th august to proceed eastward.  These consisted of 4 sweepers and 2 dan layers of the 6th M/S Flotilla - H.M.S. FRIENDSHIP (Commander M/s 6th Minesweeper Flotilla), LENNOX, PERISAN, LIGHTFOOT , IMMERSAY, and LINGAY – and 7 sweepers of the 37th (Royal Indian Navy) M/S Flotilla – H.M.I.S. ORISSA (Commander M/S 37th Minesweeping Flotilla), RAJPUTANA, KATHIAWAR, OUDH, KHYBER, BALUCHISTAN, and KUMAON.

15.  On 17th August, Captain M/S Forward Areas (Captain R.H.V. Sivewright, DSC, RN) embarked in H.M.S. PELORUS, with GOZO in company, left Colombo to overtake the 6th M/S Flotilla, being joined by H.M.I.S. BENGAL and R.F.A. CHERRYLEAF from Trincomalee.  H.M.S. GOZO returned to Trincomalee on 23rd August with a condenser defect.

16.  The Fleet Minesweepers and attendant oilers were subsequently formed into Form 155.

17.  In view of the delays already referred to in paragraph 12 above, the minesweepers were ordered to proceed to the lee of Simalur Island, the most northerly of the chain of islands off the west coast of Sumatra, where they anchored in Lugu Sibabu p.m. on 22nd August.

18.  R.F.A. ORANGELEAF sailed from Colombo on 25th August to join Force 155, and on the following day H.M.S MELITA, H.M.I.S. ROHILKAND, and CARNATIC also sailed from Colombo to augment Force 155 and were joined by H.M.S. GOZO from Trincomalee.  H.M.I.S. CARNATIC subsequently returned with defects.

PLANS AMENDED

19.  As result of the delays encountered and to meet an additional requirement to lift one brigade from South East Asia Command to Hong Kong, plans were recast as follows:

(A).  The 3rd Commando Brigade was removed from the TIDERACE plan, and allocated to Hong Kong (Operation ARMOUR).  To implement this decision, the ships employed in lifting the brigade – H.M.S. GLENGYLE, H.M.I.S. LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE, and L.S.T.s 9 and 304 – who had sailed from Bombay on 18th, were diverted to Trincomalee and held there until the date on which minesweeping of the Malacca Straits was to begin had been decided upon.

(B).  Operation TIDERACE as now to consist of the occupation of Singapore only by the 5th Division.

(C).  The occupation of Penang was to be undertaken as Operation JURIST and the occupation of Sabang as Operation BEECHAM.

RANGOON MEETING

20.  At Rangoon on 26th August, representatives of the Supreme Allied commander, South East Asia, met plenipotentiaries from the Japanese Southern Area Command.  A local agreement preliminary of surrender was signed which allowed immediate naval occupation of coastal waters and minesweeping to commence.

OPERATION JURIST AND BEECHAM

21.  The Rangoon agreement was the signal for our waiting forces to move into position.  All ships left their concentration points at Great Nicobar Island and Simalur on 27th August.

22.  Vice Admiral H.T.C. Walker, CB (Vice Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron) with Force 11, and Commodore A.L. Poland, CB, DSO, DSC (Commodore (D)) with Force 68, anchored off Penang and Sabang respectively a.m. on 28th August.  The remainder of the force under command of Vice Admiral Walker arrived off the Malayan shore on 29th August.  Bad weather forced the small ships to anchor in the lee of Langkawi Island.

23.  Force 155 anchored to the west of Sigli on 29th August, and on 30th August proceeded towards the Malacca Straits.  Meanwhile, on 27th August, available ships of the 7th Minesweeping Flotilla – H.M.S. RECRUIT, CHAMELEON, PINCHER, PLUCKY, and RIFLEMAN with H.M.I.S. PUNJAB, DECCAN, and BIHAR as attached dan layers – had left Colombo to join Force 155.

PENANG MEETINGS

24.  Senior Japanese officers at Penang came on board H.M.S. NELSON on 28th August, and signed an undertaking that no attack would be made on the Fleet.  Further meetings were held on the 29th, 30th, and 31st August.  The Japanese proved cooperative and provided the necessary information relative to their minefields, including those at Singapore and other areas.

25.  All arrangements were completed for the occupation of Penang, and preparations made to land as soon as the instrument of surrender was signed at Tokyo.  On 30th August, B.Y.M.S. began to sweep the northern approach channel to the harbour.

SABANG MEETINGS

26.  Guarantees and information similar to that obtained at Penang were supplied by the Japanese during meetings on board H.M.S. LONDON off Sabang.  Arrangements were also made for all Japanese forces and Sumatran coolies to evacuate Pulu-Wei and proceeded to Kota Raja on the Sumatran mainland.

27.  The Commander in Chief, East Indies, Admiral Sir A.J. Power, KCB, CVO, sailed from Colombo, in H.M.S. CLEOPATRA on 27th August, arriving at Sabang on 29th August, and subsequently proceeding to Penang.

OPERATION TIDERACE

28.  Flag Officer Force ‘N’ (Rear Admiral C.S. Holland, CB) sailed from Trincomalee for Singapore on 31st August in H.M.S. SUSSEX, with the destroyer VIGILANT in company.  Rear Admiral Holland, on behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia, was to make preliminary arrangements with the Japanese for the occupation of the island.

29.  A convoy consisting of 26 L.C.I. (L), R.F.A. DEWDALE, H.S. AMARAPOORA, and H.M.S. KEDAH (H.G. Ship of Rear Admiral J.A.V. Morse, CB, CBE, DSO, Flag Officer Malaya designate) sailed from Trincomalee on 28th August; and the troop convoy with the 5th Division embarked sailed from Rangoon on 30th August.

OPERATION ARMOUR

30.  The 3rd Commando Brigade, embarked in H.M.S. GLENGYLE and H.M.I.S. LLANSTEPHAN CASTLE, escorted by H.M.S. ONTARIO, sailed from Trincomalee on 31st August for Hong Kong,  These units had been preceded by 2 L.S.T.s and one store ship.  H.M.S. SMITER, with No. 142 R.A.F. Spitfire Squadron embarked, left later to overtake.  The force was to rendezvous in Singapore Strait on 6th September and go on to Hong Kong in convoy.

COASTAL FORCES OPERATIONS

31.  Force 157 (comprising coastal force units detailed in paragraph 11 above) which had sailed from Trincomalee to take part in Operation JURIST, was under the command of Captain Coastal Forces, East Indies (Acting Captain T. Kerr, OBE, RN) in H.M.I.S. GODAVARI.  Two Fairmiles and one H.D.M.L. were forced to return to harbour on the first night owing to engine defects.

32.  In the morning on 17th August, M.L. 230 was in a collision with the tanker CROMWELL and sustained such severe engine room that she had to be sunk by gunfire from H.M.I.S. GODAVARI; a heavy swell precluded any attempt to repair the damage.

33.  During the later waiting period before the occupation of Penang, M.L.s maintained a shuttle service over the 40 miles between the Langkawi anchorage and H.M.S. NELSON.

34.  The 110 H.D.M.L. Flotilla was detached to take part in the occupation of Penang, and the remainder of the force was subsequently to proceed to Singapore.

ARRIVALS ON STATION

35.  The following ships joined the Station during the month:  Monitors H.M.S. ABERCROMBIE and ROBERTS; the fighter direction ship PALOMARES, who as a result of fire in the engine room proceeded in tow to Massawa; and H.M.S. MYNGS (Captain (D) 2nd Destroyer Flotilla.

APPENDIX 1 – SHIPPING

 

Appendix 1 – Shipping

CONVOYS

Immediately after the Japanese surrender on 13th August, all shipping, except that for operation requirement, was released from convoy.

EAST INDIES ESCORT FORCE

Re enforcements continued to arrive.

BURMA COAST ESCORT FORCE

With the release of shipping to Rangoon from convoy on 5th August, the Force ceased to exist.

AIR SEA RESCUE

The disposition of corvettes for Air Sea Rescue Duties continues.

ESCORT VESSELS

At the end of August, the number of vessels undergoing refit or major repairs or on passage to or from refit was:

Based Colombo             12

 


 

BRIEF SUMMARY AND APPRECIATION OF EVENTS 11TH September 1945 –

28TH October 1945.

(V.A.E.I. No. 682/761E of 28th October 1945)

 

PART I

CHRONOLOGICAL DIARY

11th September 1945 30th September 1945

 

1st to the 7th September – See report on Operation JURIST

8th to the 10th September - see report on Operation ZIPPER

Tuesday, 11th September 1945

NELSON (B.S. 3), RICHELIEU, ROYALIST, (A.C. 21), EMPEROR, KHEDIVE, CEYLON, SAUMAREZ (D 26), RELENTLESS, TARTAR (D 10), PALADIN, MYNGS (D 2), BLACKMORE and FARNDALE anchored in Singapore Roads between 0930 and 1030.

2.  At 1600 Flag Officer, Force W, in BULOLO with representative ships of Force ‘W’ arrived to take part in the surrender ceremony.

3.  Leave was granted ashore in Singapore until 1830.

Wednesday, 12th September 1945

4.   At 0730, detachments for the surrender ceremony proceeded ashore in L.C.I. (L).  Officers and men of the Fleet attended the ceremony.  When the signing of the surrender terms was completed in the Municipal Buildings, the Supreme Allied Commander inspected the Parade.  At 1630, RICHELIEU and RELENTLESS sailed for Trincomalee.

Thursday, 13th September 1945

5.  The Commander in Chief, East Indies Fleet in CLEOPATRA, the Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifth Cruiser Squadron in CUMBERLAND, Flag Officer, Force ‘W’ in BULOLO sailed after the Singapore Surrender ceremony yesterday or early this morning.

6.  The Vice Admiral, Second in Command, East Indies Fleet took over as Senior Naval Officer (Afloat), Singapore at 1800 and assumed responsibility for operating all Fleet units at Singapore.  Flag Officer, Malaya (Rear Admiral Morse, CB, CBE) took over duties of the port.  Flag Officer, Force ‘N’ (Rear Admiral Holland, CB) in SUSSEX had been carrying out the duties of both Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) and Naval Officer in Charge up to this time after having conducted the occupation of Singapore on 5th September 1945.

7.  On taking over Senior Naval Officer (Afloat), Singapore, the dispositions were as follows:  Minesweepers – 6th Minesweeping Flotilla at Singapore, half of the 7th Minesweeping Flotilla at Singapore, the other half with Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifth Cruiser Squadron and N.E.I., 37th Minesweeping Flotilla and 7 BYMS and MMS’s at Port Swettenham boiler cleaning.  Two BYMS attached to Flag Officer, Malaya and at Singapore.  M.L. Force 157 was at Singapore with the exception of 110th H.D.M.L. Flotilla at Penang and 9 H.D.M.L.s operating with Flag Officer, Force ‘W’ in assault area.  Sixteen escort vessels under Captain East Indies Escorts were escorting convoys between 3 degrees North and Malacca Straits and Singapore.

8.  The Supreme Allied Commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten visited NELSON p.m. and addressed the ship’s company.

9.  At 1600 Rear Admiral Commanding, 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron in ROYALIST with EMPEROR, KHEDIVE, HUNTER, STALKER, and GODAVARI sailed for Trincomalee.  M.S. 37 in ROHILKAND and KUMAON sailed to join the rest of the 37th Minesweeping Flotilla at Port Swettenham.

Friday, 14th September 1945

10.  CEYLON sailed at 0600 for Trincomalee, calling at Penang en route to land two months provisions and stores for the Naval Officer in Charge.

11.  CAESAR arrived at Trincomalee, having called at Sabang, Penang, and Port Swettenham with mails; BRECON arrived with a convoy and DILIGENE (Fleet Repair Ship) arrived for onward routing to the B.P.F.  SUSSEX wearing the Flag of Flag Officer, Force ‘N’ sailed for Ceylon and ATTACKER, who had been at Singapore Naval Base, assisting with landing naval parties and guards, left for Trincomalee.  SYBIL, who had represented the submarines at Singapore for the surrender ceremony, sailed for Trincomalee.

12.  As a result of a request from Supreme Allied Commander plans were put in hand by the Flag Officer, Malaya, to start evacuating prisoners of war from Sumatra.

13.  At 1330 NELSON shifted berth into Singapore Roads.

Saturday, 15th SEPTEMER 1945

14.  FARNDALE and CAESAR sailed on mail trip to Ceylon.  ACTIVITY, who had brought out the port party and stores, sailed for Colombo.

Sunday, 16th September 1945

15.  VERULAM sailed to escort ORANJE to Darwin.  ECHODALE arrived from Penang, thereby considerably easing the Fleet fuelling situation at Singapore.

Monday, 17th September 1945

16.  My S.O.O. (Commander T.V. Briggs, RN) was sent to Palembang by air to investigate arrangements for the evacuating of Allied Prisoners of War there by sea.  Later it was decided that Allied Prisoners of War at Palembang would be evacuated by air.  A separate report on this was forwarded under cover of V.A.E.I. No. 737/756J of 7th October 1945.

Tuesday, 18th September 1945

17.  Captain (D), 11th Destroyer Flotilla in ROTHERHAM arrived Singapore from Johore Straits, having turned over Captain Superintendant Naval Base to Captain (D), 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in MYNGS.

18.  RECUIT and some minesweepers of the 6th and 7th Minesweeping Flotilla swept and danned a channel through the Dorian Straits; and BYMS completed a channel southwards from the examination anchorage.

Wednesday, 19th September 1945

19.  Captain (D), 11th Destroyer Flotilla in ROTHERHAM sailed fro Trincomalee with mails.

20.  FORT MACDONALD anchored too close and swung into NELSON’s stern during the change of tide.  No damage was incurred.

Thursday, 20th September 1945

21.  Force 12 (BYMS and MMS’s), COMBRAE (M.S. Depot Ship), and BEACHY HEAD (Escort Vessels Repair Ship) arrived from the ZIPPER area.  A programme of docking for BYMS and Algerines was put into hand.

22.  Captain Minesweeping Forward Areas embarked in PELORUS and sailed with FRIENDSHIP (S.O. 6th Minesweeping Flotilla), GOZO, POSTILLION, and PERSIAN to sweep the Sunda Straits.

23.  RAIDER sailed for Trincomalee with mails.

Friday, 21st September 1945

24.  INNERSAY and LINGAY of 6th Minesweeping Flotilla sailed for Colombo to be tropicalised.  VENUS arrived with mails and to relieve TARTAR due for boiler cleaning.  Two L.S.T.’s, six L.C.I. (L)’s and some welcome M.F.V.’s for harbour work arrived, thereby easing the work which had previously all fallen on the M.L.’s

Saturday, 22nd September 1945

25.  The colours were hoisted with due ceremony at the Naval Base.  NELSON’s band and spectators were taken there by TARTAR, who also collected two Japanese torpedoes to take back to Ceylon.

Sunday, 23rd September 1945

26.  A Thanksgiving service was held in the Singapore Cathedral.

27.  TARTAR (D 10) sailed for Trincomalee

28.  VENUS sailed to escort as far as 115 degrees East, ESPERANCE BAY and LARGS BAY taking Australian prisoners of war back to Australia.

Monday, 24th September 1945

29.  Seaman, stokers, and Royal Marines marched through the streets of Singapore between 1000 and 1045.  The salute was taken by Lieutenant General Sir Phillip Christison, KBE, CB, DSO at the Municipal Buildings.  Platoons were landed from NELSON, SAUMAREZ, PALADIN, and VIGILANT with the band of NELSON.

30.  The Portuguese sloop GONCALO VELMO arrived.  PALADIN sailed to escort HIGHLAND CHIEFTAN to 115 degrees East BEACHY HEAD and GOMBROOM (M.S. and Escort Vessels Repair Ship) arrived.

Tuesday, 25th September 1945

31.  Senior Officer Assault Group W 2 arrived from ZIPPER area in WAVENEY.  (n.b. corrected in ink from WAVERLEY).

32.  Captain 19th Destroyer Flotilla in TRAFALGAR with CAMPERDOWN and ARMADA arrived from Ceylon.  These were the first of the BATTLE class destroyers to be seen on the station.

33.  DEWDALE and SAN ZOTICO sailed.  An intercepted message from SMITER of an S.O.S. from an aircraft was received at 2300 and SAUMAREZ was sent o the area of 5 degrees North, 106 degrees East on Wednesday, 26th September to investigate.

Wednesday, 26th September 1945

34.  WAVENEY (Senior Officer Advanced Group W 2), CORBRAE, Force 12 BYMS, CHALLENGER, L.C.I. (L) 4, 166, and 252 and BELA sailed for Operation MASTERDOM, the occupation of Saigon.

35.  SUSSEX arrived and took on board canteen stores for allied Prisoners of War and then sailed to join Rear Admiral Commanding, Fifth Cruiser Squadron in Java.

36.  SAUMAREZ was ordered to return at 1200 but shortly after this a signal was received from the 14th Army that pirates were holding up food junks near Kota Bahru.  SAUMAREZ was detached to investigate and find out if M.L.’s could be based there.

37.  SMITER arrived from Hong Kong with women and children evacuees and sailed at once for Trincomalee.  TRUMPETER also arrived from ZIPPER area.

38.  Captain (D), 19th Destroyer Flotilla in TRAFALGAR with CAMPERDOWN and ARMADA sailed for Hong Kong to join the British Pacific Fleet.  Thirty Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla arrived Port Swettenham.

Thursday, 27th September 1945

39.  Captain M/S  F.A. returned to Singapore with PELORUS, FRIENDSHIP, PERSIAN, and POSTILLION have swept a channel three cables wide through the Banka Straits and Behala Straits minefields.  GOZO and DECCAN were left behind to lift dans.

40.  Thirty Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla swept the Singapore Roads minefield (E.M.F.I. 5) with negative results.

Friday, 28th September 1945

41.  Portuguese sloop GONCALO VELHO sailed for Macao.

42.  Thirty Seventh Minesweeping Flotilla carried out check clearance at Singapore Roads.  6th Minesweeping Flotilla commenced docking and boiler cleaning.

Saturday, 29th September 1945

43.  VENUS returned from her escort duty.  Captain (D) 26th Destroyer Flotilla in SAUMAREZ returned from Kota Bahru and reported that owing the shallow water Lumpat was not a suitable placed to base M.L.s.  The river estuary had silted up considerably and bore no resemblance to the chart.

44.  CAMPERDOWN (Senior Officer 6th Destroyer Flotilla) and CAMBRIAN arrived to relieve SAUMAREZ and PALADIN.

45.  GOZO and DECCAN arrived after clearing up danbouys in Behala area.  PICKLE (M.S. 7), CHAMELION, BIHAR, and PUNJAB returned to Singapore from Java.  Thus all minesweepers were at Singapore except the BYMS who had sailed for Saigon and PLUCKY who had broken down in Java.

Sunday, 30th September 1945

46.  The Vice Admiral Second in Command, East Indies Fleet turned over the duties of the Senior Naval Officer (Afloat) to Captain East Indies Escorts in GORLESTON at 1030 and sailed in NELSON for Trincomalee with Captain 26th Destroyer Flotilla in SAUMAREZ and PALADIN in company at 1200.

 

PART II

BRIEF SUMMARY AND APPRECIATION OF EVENTS – SEPTEMBER 1945

This was a remarkable month and one that few who took part in the return of our forces to Malaya will forget.  After much inevitable delays and changes of plan, the forces under my command much appreciated being selected to be the first ones back into Malaya and to hoist the Union Jack over Penang Island.  It was disappointing that the larger ships and cruisers could not get into Penang Roads but all ships either sent seaman and stoker landing parties to assist in the occupation, or later took part in the march past.  A full report is gen in the report of Operation JURIST.

2.  The Fleet then steamed south taking its place in the ZIPPER queue for the One Fathom Bank.  As was expected, the absence of opposition enabled the fleet to be dispersed with almost at once, but it was an experience to see the elaborate plan of a thousand ships working itself out.  A month before a picture had grown in our imagination of the smoke and explosion of bombardment, suicide aircraft, suicide boats, and all the ensuing disorganization accompanying them.  Now the fleet had only mines to fear;  these were a constant anxiety and not without reason as shown by RICHELIEU exploding a mine at the One Fathom Bank, fortunately without casualty.

3.  It was a disappointment to some ships’ companies that they were not selected to go to Singapore, the goal of all our endeavours for the last two years.  To those who were fortunate to be selected it proved a most interesting time not only to those who had been there before and were able to make comparison with pre-Jap occupation days, but also to the greater percentage of the officers and men in the fleet who wanted a change from Trincomalee.  In comparison, Singapore was much cooler and the health of the ships’ companies therefore improved.  Leave was given at first until 1830, but later this was extended to midnight, as things got more back to normal in the town.  There was no beer or canteen facilities ashore, but all took their change to go round the shops, which contained a remarkable assortment and display of goods, high in price, but unobtainable in the West.

4.  The conduct of libertymen was on the whole good, marred in a few cases by looting which was severely suppressed.

5.  The participation of the fleet in the ceremony of the surrender by the Japanese Commander to the Supreme Allied Commander was highly gratifying to those who had been fighting on the station, and that, together, with the Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten’s visit to H.M.S. NELSON impressed upon the officers and men the great del achieved and the large amount of work still to be done.

6.  After the Commander in Chief’s departure every effort was made to smarten up the fleet to a peace time standard and to this there was a prompt and willing response, somewhat handicapped by a lack of paint.

7.  On first taking over Senior Naval Officer (Afloat), Singapore, my staff took on a large number of the duties which were gradually transferred to Flag Officer, Malaya as his staff settled in.

8.  The minesweepers were operated by me in close cooperation with Flag Officer, Malaya, who had addition requirements for them in connection with the evacuation of Allied Prisoners of War by sea.

9.  A large amount of assistance was being given by H.M. Ships to Allied ex prisoners o war in supplying bread and amenities.  The landing of victuals and supplies from H.M. Ships for Prisoners of War ashore was a considerable undertaking.  Up to 150 allied prisoners of war were entertained on board NELSO, and in other ships in the Fleet.

10.  As a result of these abnormal supplies ashore it looked at one time as if the Fleet might have to go short, but the arrival of the first V.S.I.S. FORT MACDONALD safeguarded this.  A general all round stocking up was then put in hand.

11.  The Supreme Allied Commander asked both Flag Officer, Malaya and myself in assisting in evacuating the allied Prisoners of war from Sumatra.  Every assistance from the Fleet was offered and I sent a Staff Officer by air, to see whether the evacuation of Prisoners of War from there by sea could be arranged in face of the mined areas in the Palembang River and entrance.  But the R.A.F. and R.A.A.F. provided transport aircraft and the evacuation of Prisoners of War from Sumatra by air made little transport by sea necessary.

12.  Escort Vessels under Captain East Indies Escorts of which about six were based at Singapore were used extensively to escort convoys through the Singapore swept Channels.  A large number of convoys sailed from Singapore evacuating Prisoners of War to India, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.  Destroyers escorted the Australian bound convoy to and from 115 degrees East.

13.  The mail trips which were being run between Trincomalee and Singapore and vice versa approximately every three days, calling at the Assault Area, Penang, and Sabang en route were of high morale value and the early institution of the air mail service was much appreciated by the Fleet.

14.  Communications caused a good deal of difficulty.  Many signals were received corrupt, some not at all, and many were delayed a matter of days.  This was mostly due to the setting up of a new signal organisation ashore at Singapore, but also to some extent due to the fact that operators had been used to figures (codes) and not word signals (plain language).

15.  Discipline remained good; one Court Martial was held.

 

PART III

REPORT OF PROCEEDINGS 30th SEPTEMBER – 28th OCTOBER

Sunday, 30th September 1945

Having turned over the duties of Senior Naval Officer (Afloat), Singapore to Captain, East Indies Escort Forces, I sailed in NELSON from Singapore at 1200 GH with Captain (D) 26th Destroyer Flotilla in SAUMAREZ, and PALADIN in company.  Paravanes were steamed at 1430. 

At 2200 GH, met RICHELIEU, LE TRIOMPHANT, PRINCESS BEATRIX, and QUEEN EMMA southbound.

Monday, 1st October 1945

Noon position 4-40N, 99-30E

 2.  At 0630 GH,  I detached Captain (D) 26th Destroyer Flotilla in SAUMAREZ to Penang for mails, and PALADIN was detached at 1900 to Sabang for a similar reason.

3.  At 1040, a white floating object was sighted close to starboard and PALADIN was sent to investigate.  PALADIN picked up a white aircraft float, and as this might have been from one of our aircraft, possibly crashed recently, I reported it to you by signal.

Tuesday, 2nd October 1945

Noon position 6035N, 94-35E

4.  At 635 GH, paravanes were recovered.

At 1200 GH, I received your signal asking me to return to Penang to investigate the trouble reported by Captain (D) 26th Destroyer Flotilla.

5.  I therefore decided to transfer to PALADIN and return in her to Penang.  Course was altered to 135 degrees accordingly and PALADIN met at 1515 off Sabang.  I transferred by boat and hoisted my flag in PALADIN at 1600.  I instructed NELSON to proceed to conform with her previous programme.

Wednesday, 3rd October 1945

6.  PALADIN arrived at Penang at 1030 and having settled the matter there (as reported verbally to you on the 8th October), I sailed SAMAREZ with VOLAGE in company for Trincomalee at 1630 and followed in PALADIN half an hour later.

Saturday, 6th October 1945

7.  I arrived at Trincomalee in PALADIN at 1830 FG and rehoisted my flag in NELSON.  In view of the fact that NELSON was sailing the next day, I asked the Rear Admiral Commanding, 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron to continue to carry out the duties of Senior Naval Officer (Afloat).

Sunday, 7th October 1945

8.  I sailed from Trincomalee in NELSON at 1200 FG and proceeded by coastal route to Colombo.  The passage was uneventful.

Monday, 8th October 1945

9.  At 1300 FG, NELSON arrived at Colombo and secured to buoys in the harbour.

Thursday, 11th October 1945

10.  I sailed at 1700 FG in NELSON for Kilindini.  The passage was uneventful and noon positions as follows:

12th October                   7-37N, 75-48E

13th October                   6-59N, 70-25E

14th October                   5-09N, 65-18E

15th October                   3-20N, 60-28E

16th October                   1-27N, 55-26E

17th October                   0-32S, 50-25E

18th October                   2-25S, 44-43E

11.  The passage was carried out in excellent weather and the ceremony of crossing the line took place with due ceremony and amusement on 17th October in the longitude of 51 degrees East.

19th October 1945

Noon Position 4-06S, 39-53E

12.  NELSON arrived at Kilindini at 1500 and secured alongside the wharf. H.M.S. HOWE (Captain H.W.U. McCall, DSO, RN) was secured to the buoys in the stream.  The Captain in Charge, Captain Sir P.W. Bowyer-Smith, RN, paid his official call on me at 1730 and I asked him to continue the duties of the port during my stay.

13.  I convened a Court Martial on board NELSON on 20th October.

14.  NELSON carried out the necessary adjustments to complement with HOWE during the stay.  My staff were retained on board NELSON in accordance with your signaled instructions and I received your instructions to return to the United Kingdom in NELSON on 21st.

15.  At 0730, 21st October NELSON moved out to an anchor berth in stream.  Owing largely to the efforts of the Captain of the HOWE, the relations between the Navy and local inhabitants were more cordial than they had been in the past.  I entertained the Provisional Commissioner (Mr. V.T. McKeag) and other local notables at lunch and received hospitality in return.

Monday, 22nd October 1945

16.  At 1625 I sailed in NELSON from Kilindini for the Suez Canal.  The noon positions were as follows:

23rd October                  1-22S, 43-44E

24th October                   3-02N, 48-08E

25th October                   8-19N, 51-14E

26th October                   12-21N, 49-11E

27th October                   12-41N, 43-18E

Sunday, 28th October 1945

17.  NELSON passed out of the East Indies Station into the Mediterranean Station.

 


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