British Pacific Fleet

The British Pacific Fleet (BPF) was a Royal Navy formation which saw action against Japan during the Second World War. The fleet was composed of British Commonwealth naval vessels. The BPF formally came into being on 22 November 1944 from the remaining ships of the former Eastern Fleet then being re-designated the East Indies Fleet and continuing to be based in Trincomalee.[1] The British Pacific Fleet's main base was at Sydney, Australia, with a forward base at Manus Island. One of the largest fleets ever assembled by the Royal Navy, by VJ Day it had four battleships and six fleet aircraft carriers, fifteen smaller aircraft carriers, eleven cruisers, and numerous smaller warships, submarines, and support vessels.

British Pacific Fleet
British aircraft carriers at anchor c1945
British aircraft carriers at anchor c. 1945
Active1944–45
Country United Kingdom
BranchRoyal Navy
also:
Royal Australian Navy
Royal Canadian Navy
Royal New Zealand Navy
TypeFleet
Engagements
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Bruce Fraser

Background

Following their retreat to the western side of the Indian Ocean in 1942, British naval forces did not return to the South West Pacific theatre until 17 May 1944, when an Anglo-American carrier task force implemented Operation Transom, a joint raid on Surabaya, Java.

The US was liberating British territories in the Pacific and extending its influence. It was therefore seen as a political and military imperative by the British Government to restore a British presence in the region and to deploy British forces against Japan. The British Government was determined that British territories, such as Hong Kong, should be recaptured by British forces.

The British Government was not initially unanimous on the commitment of the BPF. Churchill, in particular, argued against it, not wishing to be a visibly junior partner in what had been exclusively the United States' battle. He also considered that a British presence would be unwelcome and should be concentrated on Burma and Malaya. Naval planners, supported by the Chiefs of Staff, believed that such a commitment would strengthen British influence and the British Chiefs of Staff considered mass resignation, so strongly held were their opinions.[2]

The Admiralty had proposed a British role in the Pacific in early 1944 but the initial USN response had been discouraging. Admiral Ernest King, Commander-in-Chief United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations, an Anglophobe,[3] was reluctant to concede any such role and raised a number of objections, and insisted that the BPF should be self-sufficient. These were eventually overcome or discounted and at a meeting, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt "intervened to say that the British Fleet was no sooner offered than accepted. In this, though the fact was not mentioned, he overruled Admiral King's opinion."[4]

The Australian Government had sought US military assistance in 1942, when it was faced with the possibility of Japanese invasion. While Australia had made a significant contribution to the Pacific War, it had never been an equal partner with its US counterparts in strategy. It was argued that a British presence would act as a counterbalance to the powerful and increasing US presence in the Pacific.[5]

Constituent forces

The fleet was founded when Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser struck his flag at Trincomalee as Commander-in-Chief of the British Eastern Fleet and hoisted it in the gunboat Tarantula as Commander-in-Chief British Pacific Fleet. He later transferred his flag to a more suitable vessel, the battleship Howe.

The Eastern Fleet was based in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and reorganised into the British East Indies Fleet, subsequently becoming the British Pacific Fleet (BPF). The BPF operated against targets in Sumatra, gaining experience until early 1945, when it departed Trincomalee for Sydney. (These operations are described in the article on the British Eastern Fleet.)

The Royal Navy provided the majority of the fleet's vessels and all the capital ships but elements and personnel included contributions from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), as well as the Commonwealth nations, including the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). With its larger vessels integrated with United States Navy formations since 1942, the RAN's contribution was limited. A high proportion of naval aviators were New Zealanders and Canadians. The USN also contributed to the BPF, as did personnel from the South African Navy (SAN). Port facilities in Australia and New Zealand also made vital contributions in support of the British Pacific Fleet.

During World War II, the fleet was commanded by Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser. In practice, command of the fleet in action devolved to Vice-Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings, with Vice-Admiral Sir Philip Vian in charge of air operations by the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The fighting end of the fleet was referred to as Task Force 37 or 57 and the Fleet Train was Task Force 113. The 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron was the lead carrier formation.

No. 300 Wing RAF was established in Australia in late 1944 to fly transport aircraft in support of the BPF, and came under the direct command of Fraser. The wing was expanded to a group in 1945 and conducted regular flights from Sydney to the fleet's forward bases.

Logistics

BPF Staff AWM017874
Melbourne, 13 December 1944. First conference of the staff of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser's new British Pacific Fleet, held in Melbourne. Left to right: Lieutenant Commander G. P. Vollmer (Secretary to Chief of Staff); Lieutenant Commander R. N. Heard; Vice-Admiral C. S. Daniel (seated) Vice Admiral (Administration); Commodore W. G. Andrews; Captain E. H. Shattock (concealed); Captain R. C. Duckworth; Lieutenant S. G. Warrender.

The requirement that the BPF be self-sufficient meant the establishment of a fleet train that could support a naval force at sea for weeks or months. The Royal Navy had been accustomed to operating close to its bases in Britain, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Infrastructure and expertise were lacking in the Pacific rim. In the north Atlantic and Mediterranean, the high risk of submarine and air attack precluded routine refuelling at sea. Fortunately for the BPF "the American logistics authorities... interpreted self-sufficiency in a very liberal sense."[6] American officers told Rear Admiral Douglas Fisher, commander of the British Fleet Train, that he could have anything and everything "that could be given without Admiral King's knowledge."[7]

The Admiralty sent Vice Admiral Charles Daniel to the United States for consultation about the supply and administration of the fleet. He then proceeded to Australia where he became Vice Admiral, Administration, British Pacific Fleet, a role that "if unspectacular compared with command of a fighting squadron, was certainly one of the most arduous to be allocated to a British Flag officer during the entire war."[6] The US Pacific Fleet had assembled an enormous fleet of oilers and supply ships of every type. Even before the war, it had been active in the development of underway replenishment techniques.

In February 1944 the Admiralty estimated that the Fleet Train would require 134 merchant ships, of about 1½ million gross tons. As only 20 ships could be provided "in due course" the remainder would have to come from: the United States, the Admiralty's resources (although only a "handful" of its 560 merchant ships were actually available), or the general pool of merchant shipping (on which there were "many demands"). And the Admiralty requirements increased from 80 ships (totalling 590,000 tons) in January to 134 then by the end of March to 158. The Prime Minister had been alarmed for the original requirements for 80 ships, and on 9 April he issued a minute defining the limits of the Fleet Train based on a minimum of 24 million tons of imports "this year" He referred to the Navy getting 230,000 tons of new merchant shipping in about a year. The minute referred to operations "in the Indian ocean or in the South-West Pacific", reflecting his own preference for "Operation Culverin" against northern Sumatra and Malaya rather than the "Middle Strategy".[8]

The Admiralty realised that it needed a great deal of new equipment and training, in a short time and with whatever it had to hand. Lacking specialist ships, it had to improvise a fleet train from whatever RN, RFA or merchant ships were available. On 8 February 1944, the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, informed the Defence Committee that 91 ships would be required to support the BPF. This was based on an assumption that the BPF would be active off the Philippines or would have a base there. By March, the war zone had moved north and the Americans were unwilling to allow the British to establish facilities in the Philippines. The estimate had grown to 158 ships, as it was recognised that operations eventually would be fought close to Japan. This had to be balanced against the shipping needed to import food for the civilian population of the UK. In January 1945, the War cabinet was forced to postpone the deployment of the fleet by two months due to the shortage of shipping.[9]

The BPF found that its tankers were too few, too slow and in some cases unsuitable for the task of replenishment at sea. Its oiling gear, hoses and fittings were too often poorly designed. British ships refuelled at sea mostly by the over-the-stern method, a safer but less efficient technique compared with the American method of refuelling alongside. Lack of proper equipment and insufficient practice meant burst hoses or excessive time at risk to submarine attack, while holding a constant course during fuelling.[10] As the Royal Australian Navy had discovered, British-built ships had only about a third of the refrigeration space of a comparable American ship.[11] They also suffered from limited fuel tankage and less efficient machinery, particularly the capital ships (A comparison of HMS King George V and USS Washington conducted in 1942 found the British ship burned 39% more fuel at cruising speed and 20% at high speed, giving her half the action radius.)[12] British ships therefore required replenishment more frequently than American ships. In some cases even American-built equipment was not interchangeable, for FAA aircraft had been "Anglicized" by the installation of British radios and oxygen masks, while Vought Corsairs had their wing-folding arrangements modified to fit into the more cramped hangars of British carriers. Replacement aircraft therefore had to be brought from the UK.[13]

The British Chiefs of Staff decided early on to base the BPF in Australia rather than India. While it was apparent that Australia, with its population of only about seven million could not support the projected 675,000 men and women of the BPF, the actual extent of the Australian contribution was undetermined. The Australian government agreed to contribute to the support of the BPF but the Australian economy was fully committed to the war effort and manpower and stores for the BPF could only come from taking them from American and Australian forces fighting the Japanese.[8]

Unfortunately, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser arrived in Sydney on 10 December 1944 under the mistaken impression that Australia had asked for the BPF and promised to provide for its needs. Two days later, the Acting Prime Minister of Australia Frank Forde announced the allocation of £21,156,500 for the maintenance of the BPF. In January 1945, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur agreed to release American stockpiles in Australia to support the BPF. The Australian government soon became concerned at the voracious demands of the BPF works programme, which was criticised by Australian military leaders. In April 1945, Fraser publicly criticised the Australian government's handling of waterside industrial disputes that were holding up British ships. The government was shocked and angered but agreed to allocate £6,562,500 for BPF naval works. Fraser was not satisfied. On 8 August 1945, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Clement Attlee felt obliged to express his regret for the misunderstandings to the Australian government.[14]

After bombarding the Sumatra oil refineries for Nimitz, the Fleet arrived in Australia on 4 February 1945; it comprised two battleships, four fleet carriers, three cruisers and accompanying destroyers. The Fleet Train comprised over 300,000 tons of shipping as built or converted since the beginning of 1944. In June 1945 it the Fleet was to comprise four battleships, ten aircraft carriers, sixteen cruisers (including two from New Zealand and one from Canada), forty destroyers and about ninety escorts (including Canadian escorts).[15]

The distance from Sydney was too far to allow efficient fleet support so with much American support, a forward base was established at Seeadler Harbor, Manus atoll, in the Admiralty Islands, which was described as "Scapa Flow with bloody palm trees".[16]

As well as its base at Sydney, the Fleet Air Arm established Mobile Naval Air Bases (MONABs) in Australia to provide technical and logistic support for the aircraft. The first of these became active in Sydney in January 1945.[17]

Operations

HMS Implacable AWM 019037
Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Grumman Avengers, Supermarine Seafires and Fairey Fireflies on the deck of Implacable warm up their engines before taking off. Other British warships in the background.

Major actions in which the fleet was involved included Operation Meridian, air strikes in January 1945 against oil production at Palembang, Sumatra. These raids, conducted in bad weather, succeeded in reducing the oil supply of the Japanese Navy. A total of 48 FAA aircraft were lost due to enemy action and crash landings; they claimed 30 Japanese planes destroyed in dogfights and 38 on the ground.

The United States Navy (USN), which had control of Allied operations in the Pacific Ocean Areas, gave the BPF combat units the designation of Task Force 57 (TF-57) when it joined Admiral Raymond Spruance's United States Fifth Fleet on 15 March 1945.[18] On 27 May 1945, it became Task Force 37 (TF-37) when it became part of Admiral William Halsey's United States Third Fleet.[19]

In March 1945, while supporting the invasion of Okinawa, the BPF had sole responsibility for operations in the Sakishima Islands. Its role was to suppress Japanese air activity, using gunfire and air attack, at potential kamikaze staging airfields that would otherwise be a threat to US Navy vessels operating at Okinawa. The British fleet carriers with their armoured flight decks were subject to heavy and repeated kamikaze attacks, but they proved highly resistant, and returned to action relatively quickly. The USN liaison officer on Indefatigable commented: "When a kamikaze hits a US carrier it means 6 months of repair at Pearl [Harbor]. When a kamikaze hits a Limey carrier it's just a case of 'Sweepers, man your brooms'."[20]

HMS Formidable (67) on fire 1945
Formidable on fire after a kamikaze hit.

Fleet Air Arm Supermarine Seafires saw service in the Pacific campaigns. Due to their good high altitude performance, short range and lack of ordnance-carrying capabilities (compared to the Hellcats and Corsairs of the Fleet) the Seafires were allocated the vital defensive duties of combat air patrol (CAP) over the fleet. Seafires were thus heavily involved in countering the kamikaze attacks during the Iwo Jima landings and beyond. The Seafires' best day was 15 August 1945, shooting down eight attacking aircraft for a single loss.

In April 1945, the British 4th Submarine Flotilla was transferred to the major Allied submarine base at Fremantle, Western Australia, as part of BPF. Its most notable success in this period was the sinking of the heavy cruiser Ashigara, on 8 June 1945 in Banka Strait, off Sumatra, by the submarines Trenchant and Stygian. On 31 July 1945, in Operation Struggle, the British midget submarine XE3, crewed by Lieutenant Ian Fraser, Acting Leading Seaman James Magennis, Sub-Lieutenant William James Lanyon Smith, RNZNVR, and Engine Room Artificer Third Class, Charles Alfred Reed, attacked Japanese shipping at Singapore. They heavily damaged the heavy cruiser Takao, while docked at her berth at Selatar Naval Base, although she did not sink.[21] Fraser and Magennis were both awarded the Victoria Cross, Smith received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Reed the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM).

Battleships and aircraft from the fleet also attacked the Japanese home islands. The battleship King George V bombarded naval installations at Hamamatsu, near Toyohashi; the last time a British battleship fired in action. Meanwhile, carrier strikes by British naval aircraft were carried out against land and harbour targets including, notably, against two Japanese escort carriers Shimane Maru which was sunk and the Kaiyō which was disabled. Although, during the assaults on Japan, the British commanders had accepted that the BPF should become a component element of the US 3rd Fleet, the US fleet commander, William Halsey, excluded British forces from a raid on Kure naval base on political grounds.[22] Halsey later wrote, in his memoirs: "it was imperative that we forestall a possible postwar claim by Britain that she had delivered even a part of the final blow that demolished the Japanese fleet.... an exclusively American attack was therefore in American interests."

The BPF would have played a major part in a proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands, known as Operation Downfall, which was cancelled after Japan surrendered. The last naval air action in World War II was on VJ-Day when British carrier aircraft shot down Japanese Zero fighters.

The Royal Navy during the Second World War A25747
An FAA Corsair's auxiliary petrol tank bursts into flames, while making an emergency landing on board HMS Victorious.
Shimane Maru attacked by Avenger aircraft
Japanese Escort Carrier, Shimane Maru, under attack by Avenger aircraft operating from HMS Victorious, 24 July 1945.
The Royal Navy during the Second World War A29174
Grumman Avengers on the way to attack Sakishima targets in support of the American landing on Okinawa.

Allied co-operation

The conflicting British and American political objectives have been mentioned: Britain needed to "show the flag" in an effective way while the US wished to demonstrate, beyond question, its own pre-eminence in the Pacific. In practice, there were cordial relations between the fighting fleets and their sea commanders. Although Admiral King had stipulated that the BPF should be wholly self-sufficient, in practice, material assistance was freely given.

Formidable Sydney Boom (AWM P00444-047)
Formidable passing through the Sydney Harbour anti-submarine boom net in 1945. The blackened funnel was the result of the kamikaze attack pictured above, in which a Japanese aircraft crashed on the flight deck.

Order of battle

Ships

The fleet included 6 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 2 aircraft maintenance carriers and 9 escort carriers, with a total of more than 750 aircraft, 4 battleships, 11 cruisers, 35 destroyers, 14 frigates, 44 smaller warships, 31 submarines, and 54 large vessels in the fleet train.

Fleet carriers
Light carriers
Maintenance carriers
Escort carriers
Battleships
Cruisers
Cruiser-minelayers
AA Escort
Destroyers
Frigates
Sloops
Corvettes
Submarines
Landing ships
Fleet train
Replenishment oilers
Store ships
  • Bosporus
  • City of Dieppe
  • Corinda
  • Darvel
  • Edna
  • Fort Alabama[25]
  • Fort Constantine Victualling stores ship[25]
  • Fort Dunvegan Victualling stores ship[25]
  • Fort Edmonton Victualling stores ship[25]
  • Fort Providence Naval stores ship[25]
  • Fort Wrangell Naval stores ship[25]
  • Gudrun Maersk
  • Hermelin
  • Heron
  • Hickory Burn
  • Hickory Dale
  • Hickory Glen
  • Hickory Steam
  • Jaarstrom
  • Kheti
  • Kistna
  • Kola
  • Marudu
  • Pacheco
  • Prince de Liege
  • Princess Maria Pia
  • Prome
  • Robert Maersk
  • San Andres
  • Sclesvig
  • Thyra S

Source: Smith, Task Force 57, pp. 178–184

Fleet Air Arm Squadrons

FAA squadrons[26][27]
Sqdn no Aircraft type Ship Dates Notes
801 Seafire L.III Implacable May 1945 onwards Part of 8th Carrier Air Group. The squadron joined the British Pacific Fleet in May 1945 as part of the 8th Carrier Air Group escorting strikes on Truk and targets around Japan till after VJ day.[28]
812 Barracuda II Vengeance July 1945 onwards At sea on VJ Day en route to Taiwan, as part of Task Group (TG) 111.2, 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron, diverted to Hong Kong arriving 29 August.
814 Barracuda II Venerable June 1945 onwards 15th Carrier Air Group, saw no action
820 Avenger I Indefatigable Embarked November 1944 with 849 squadron, and took part With No 2 Strike Wing for attacks on oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra and Sakashima Gunto islands;
from June 1945 with 7th Carrier Air Group for strikes around Tokyo
827 Barracuda II Colossus Embarked for BPF January 1945 Operated in the Indian Ocean from June 1945 until VJ-Day (BPF service unclear)
828 Barracuda I, II & III
Avenger II
Implacable From June 1945 Part of 8th Carrier Air Group, involved in attacks on Truk and Japan
837 Barracuda II Glory Embarked April 1945 Part of 16th Carrier Air Group but saw no action before VJ-Day; covered Japanese surrender at Rabaul
848 Avenger I Formidable April 1945 onwards Participated in strikes against Sakishima Gunto Island airfields and shore targets and on Formosa; in early June 1945 joined the 2nd Carrier Air Group for strikes on Japan in July
849 Avenger I & II Victorious December 1944 onwards Part of No 2 Naval Strike Wing for raids on Pangkalan Brandon and Palembang oil refineries, Sumatra in January 1945; strikes on the Sakashima Gunto islands and Formosa, strikes in July 1945 Japan, near Tokyo, where an 849 aircraft scored the first bomb hit on the carrier Kaiyo
854 Avenger I, II & III Illustrious December 1944 onwards Participated in strikes on Belawan Deli and Palembang; then took part in attacks on the Sakishima Gunto Islands; in July 1945 joined 3rd Carrier Air Group and saw no further action
857 Avenger I & II Indomitable November 1944 onwards Joined in attacks on Belawan Deli, Pangkalan Brandan and Palembang in December 1944 and January 1945; later 2 months continuous attacks on Sakishima Gunto islands and Formosa; no further action before VJ-Day, but subsequently combatted Japanese suicide boats on 31 August and 1 September 1945 near Hong Kong
880 Seafire L.III Implacable Embarked March 1945 Escorted attacks on Truk island in June 1945; at end June merged into the new 8th Carrier Air Group; joined attacks in Japan
885 Hellcat I & II Ruler Embarked December 1944 Provided fighter cover for the Fleet; aircraft re-equipped June 1945, but saw no more action before VJ-Day
887 Seafire F.III & L.III Indefatigable Embarked November 1944 Took part in attack on oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra in January 1945; strikes on the Sakashima Gunto islands; strikes around Tokyo just before VJ-Day
888 Hellcat Indefatigable Until January 1945 Operations over Sumatra, then remained in Ceylon when BPF departed
894 Seafire L.III Indefatigable Embarked November 1944 Took part in operations against Palembang oil refineries in Sumatra, January 1945; in March and April 1945 attacked targets in the Sakishima Gunto islands, and then attacked the Japanese mainland just prior to VJ-Day.
899 Seafire L.III Seafire pool Embarked Chaser February 1945 Operational Training squadron, was on HMS Arbiter on VJ-Day[29]
1770 Firefly Indefatigable Embarked HMS Indefatigable November 1944 the squadron embarked on HMS Indefatigable for the Far East, where it took part in the attack on the oil refineries at Palembang, Sumatra in January 1945. It subsequently was involved in strikes on the Sakashima Gunto islands, and against Formosa.[30]
1771 Firefly Implacable March to September 1945 Re-embarked as part of the 8th Carrier Air Group to take part in the attacks on Truk in June 1945, and subsequently attacks on the Japanese mainland.[31]
1772 Firefly Indefatigable July 1945 onwards till V-J Day Strikes against the Japanese mainland.[32]
1790 Firefly NF Vindex From August 1945 Not in operational area before VJ-Day[33]
1830 Corsair Illustrious December 1943 Part of 5th Naval Fighter Wing, sailing in January 1944 to Ceylon for the Eastern Fleet. March 1944 sweeps were made over the Bay of Bengal, in April 1944 enemy shore installations were attacked at Sabang, and in May 1944 operation were carried out at Sourabaya.une 1944 was spent attacking the Andaman islands, and in July operations were carried out at Sabang. Then, in August 1944 the ship sailed for Durban to refit, the squadron disembarking at Wingfield where it was stationed till October 1944, having increased to 18 aircraft. In December 1944 and January 1945 the squadron took part in the attacks on Palembang oil refineries in Sumatra, after which the ship joined the British Pacific Fleet. March and April 1945 was spent with operations attacking the Sakishima Gunto islands, but after the ship was damaged by a Japanese Kamikaze it returned with 1830 squadron to the UK. Squadron disbanded July 1945.[34]
1831 Corsair Glory June 1945 No Action.[35]
1833 Corsair Illustrious March 1944 In March 1944 sweeps were made over the Bay of Bengal, in April 1944 enemy shore installations were attacked at Sabang, and in May 1944 operation were carried out at Sourabaya. June 1944 was spent attacking the Andaman islands, and in July operations were carried out at Sabang. Then, in August 1944 the ship sailed for Durban to refit, the squadron disembarking at Wingfield where it was stationed till October 1944, having increased to 18 aircraft. In December 1944 and January 1945 the squadron took part in the attacks on Palembang oil refineries in Sumatra, after which the ship joined the British Pacific Fleet. March and April 1945 was spent with operations attacking the Sakishima Gunto islands, but after the ship was damaged by a Japanese Kamikaze it returned to the UK with 1833 squadron aircrew without their aircraft and where they disbanded in July 1945.[36]
1834 Corsair Victorious August 1944 The squadron took part in a series of attacks on Sumatra, including on the Palembang oil refineries in Sumatra in January 1945. Subsequently, the ship joined the British Pacific Fleet and commenced attacks on the Sakishima Gunto islands between March and May 1945. In June 1945 the squadron joined the 1st Carrier Air Group at Schofields, and embarked on HMS Victorious for a series of attacks on the Japanese mainland in the Tokyo area.[37]
1836 Corsair Victorious July 1944 until V-J Day In July 1944 the squadron attacked oil storage facilities and airfields at Sabang, Sumatra. Operation continued in the area until January 1945 with the attacks on oil installations at Palembang, Sumatra. It subsequently was involved in strikes on the Sakashima Gunto islands, and then joined the 1st Carrier Air Group. The squadron re-embarking on HMS Victorious later in the month for strikes in July 1945 against the Japanese mainland near Tokyo until VJ-Day.[38]
1839 Hellcat Indomitable July 1944 to June 1945 In July 1944 the squadron embarked on HMS Indomitable, providing cover during attacks on Sumatra. In December 1944 and January 1945 the squadron took part in the strikes on the Palembang, Sumatran oil refineries, and with the ship joined the British Pacific Fleet to attack the Sakishima Gunto islands. On 24 January 1945 Sub Lt RF Mackie RNZN of 1839 sqdn flying Hellcat JV141 "116/W" shot down a Japanese Ki44 aircraft at Palembang. In April 1945 the squadron absorbed 1840 squadron, and subsequently the 5th Naval Fighter Wing disbanded into the 11th Carrier Air Group in June 1945. In early August the squadron embarked on HMS Indomitable but saw no action before VJ-Day.[39]
1840 Hellcat Speaker December 1944 The squadron joined the 3rd Naval Fighter Wing at Eglington, and subsequently in December 1944 embarked on HMS Speaker for the Pacific, where it provided fighter coverage of the British Pacific Fleet train, but was absorbed into 1839 squadrons and disbanded in April 1945.[40]
1841 Corsair Formidable December 1944 Embarked on HMS Speaker for the Pacific, where it provided fighter coverage of the British Pacific Fleet train, but was absorbed into 1839 squadrons and disbanded in April 1945.[41]
1842 Corsair Formidable September 1944 In March 1945 the squadron re-equipped with Corsair IV. In April and May 1945 the squadron took part in operations against the Sakishimo Gunto islands, and in June the 6th Naval Fighter Wing merged into the 2nd Carrier Air Group. Shortly before VJ-Day the squadron was involved in attacks against the Japanese mainland near Tokyo, two aircraft being lost but the aircrew rescued by a US submarine.[42]
1844 Hellcat Indomitable October 1944 From October till December 1944 was spent ashore at China Bay, the squadron then re-embarked on HMS Indomitable for strikes on oil installations at Belawan Deli in Sumatra, and in January 1945 airfields and shore targets were attacked at Pangkalan Brandan as well as the oil refineries at Palembang. The ship then sailed for Australia and the squadron disembarked at Nowra where it was re-equipped with 18 Hellcat IIs. On re-embarking the squadron then took part in attacks on the Sakishima Gunto islands, and on Formosa. Further operations planned for August 1945 were cancelled due to VJ-Day.[43]
1846 Corsair Colossus September 1944 September 1944 the squadron joined the 6th Naval Fighter Wing, sailing with HMS Formidable for the Far East, detachments disembarking at North Front, Gibraltar, Dekheila and Colombo till January 1945, embarking again on HMS Formidable in the middle of the month and arriving at Puttalam in February 1945. In March 1945 the squadron re-equipped with Corsair IV. In April and May 1945 the squadron took part in operations against the Sakishimo Gunto islands, and in June the 6th Naval Fighter Wing merged into the 2nd Carrier Air Group.

Shortly before VJ-Day the squadron was involved in attacks against the Japanese mainland near Tokyo, two aircraft being lost but the aircrew rescued by a US submarine. The ship then withdrew to Australia. The squadron disembarked temporarily to Ponam just after VJ-Day, re-embarking for Nowra the following day and onwards to the UK in HMS Victorious.[44]

1850 Corsair Vengeance July 1945 Onwards At sea on VJ Day en route to Taiwan, as part of Task Group (TG) 111.2, 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron, diverted to Hong Kong arriving 29 August.[45]
1851 Corsair Venerable March 1945 Part of 15th Carrier Air Group, no action.[46]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Hobbs, David. "THE BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET IN 1945 A Commonwealth effort and a remarkable achievement" (PDF). navy.gov.au. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  2. ^ Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War, pp. 498–500
  3. ^ Arthur Bryant, Triumph in the West, pp.?
  4. ^ Churchill, Triumph and Tragedy, pp. 134–135
  5. ^ Jackson, The British Empire and the Second World War, p.500
  6. ^ a b Roskill, The War at Sea, Volume III, Part 2, p. 331
  7. ^ Sarantakes, Nicholase (2006). "The Short but Brilliant Life of the British Pacific Fleet" (PDF). JFQ / issue 40, pp.86 & 87. ndupress. Archived from the original (pdf) on 13 December 2006.
  8. ^ a b Ehrman Volume V 1956, pp. 476–478.
  9. ^ Roskill, The War at Sea, Volume III, Part 2, pp. 427–429
  10. ^ Ernest King and the British Pacific Fleet, pp. 121–122
  11. ^ Gill, Royal Australian Navy 1942–1945, p. 103
  12. ^ Garzke and Dulin Battleships: Allied Battleships in World War II, p. 240
  13. ^ Ernest King and the British Pacific Fleet, p. 120
  14. ^ Horner, High Command, pp. 377–381
  15. ^ Ehrman Volume VI 1956, p. 222.
  16. ^ England's Shadow Fleet: White Ensign in the Pacific
  17. ^ Roskill, The War at Sea, Volume III, Part 2, p. 429
  18. ^ Roskill, The War at Sea, Volume III, Part 2, p. 334
  19. ^ Morison, Victory in the Pacific, p. 272
  20. ^ "Commander Dickie Reynolds". Telegraph.co.uk. 4 July 2000. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  21. ^ Parshall, Jon; Bob Hackett; Sander Kingsepp; Allyn Nevitt. "IJN TAKAO: Tabular Record of Movement (Combinedfleet.com)".
  22. ^ Sarantakes, Nicholase (2006). "The Short but Brilliant Life of the British Pacific Fleet" (PDF). JFQ / issue 40, p88. ndupress. Archived from the original (pdf) on 13 December 2006.
  23. ^ Hobbs, David (2012). The British Pacific Fleet: The Royal Navy's Most Powerful Strike Force. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-78346-922-2.
  24. ^ Polmar, Norman (2006). Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Volume I: 1909-1945. Lincoln, Nebraska, USA: Potomac Books, Inc. p. 553. ISBN 978-1-59797-344-1.
  25. ^ a b c d e f Angela Deroy-Jones. "Fort Ships of WW2 – Royal Navy Ships". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  26. ^ Smith, Peter C. Task Force 57: British Pacific Fleet, 1944–45. pp. 184–185.
  27. ^ "NAVAL AIR SQUADRON INDEX (700–1800)". Fleet Air Arm Archive. Archived from the original on 16 December 2010. Retrieved 16 February 2011.
  28. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 801 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  29. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 899 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  30. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1770 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  31. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1771 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  32. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1772 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  33. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1790 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  34. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1830 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  35. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1831 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 2 July 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  36. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1833 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  37. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1834 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  38. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1836 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  39. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1839 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  40. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1840 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 24 September 2015.
  41. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1840 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  42. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1842 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  43. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1844 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  44. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1842 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  45. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1850 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 19 June 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  46. ^ "Fleet Air Arm 1851 squadron profile. Squadron Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939–1945". fleetairarmarchive.net. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2015.

References

External links

1770 Naval Air Squadron

1770 Naval Air Squadron (1770 NAS) was a Naval Air Squadron of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. It formed at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron) on 10 September 1943 as a two-seat fighter squadron and embarked on HMS Indefatigable in May 1944. It took part in several attacks on the German Battleship Tirpitz and other operations in Norwegian waters before sailing for the Far East. In 1945, as part of the British Pacific Fleet, the squadron took part in attacks on Sumatra, Sakishima Gunto and Formosa. It disembarked to Australia in June 1945 and then disbanded on 30 September 1945 at RAAF Maryborough (HMS Nabstock).

1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron (Royal Navy)

The 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron was a formation of Royal Navy aircraft carriers assigned to the British Pacific Fleet in November 1943. They were Formidable, Indomitable, Victorious, Illustrious and Indefatigable. It was disbanded in 1947.

30th Aircraft Carrier Squadron

The 30th Aircraft Carrier Squadron also called Thirtieth Aircraft Carrier Squadron was a military formation of Escort Aircraft Carriers of the Royal Navy that was part of the British Pacific Fleet from January to August 1945.

Amenities ship

An amenities ship is a ship outfitted with recreational facilities as part of a mobile naval base. Amenities ships included movie theaters and canteens staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. These ships were intended to provide a place where British Pacific Fleet personnel could relax between operations.

Bombing of Kure

The Japanese city of Kure, Hiroshima was attacked repeatedly by Allied aircraft during World War II. These raids targeted the major naval base located at the city, ships moored at this base or nearby, industrial facilities, and the city's urban area itself.

The following major attacks were conducted on Kure and the nearby region:

19 March 1945 - Attack on warships at and near Kure by the United States Navy's Task Force 58

30 March 1945 - B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers laid mines in the approaches to Kure and Hiroshima

Early April 1945 - Further minelaying by B-29s in the approaches to Kure and Kure harbour

5 May 1945 - Raid by 148 B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers on the Hiro Naval Aircraft Factory at Kure

5 May 1945 - B-29s laid mines in the approaches to Kure and Hiroshima

22 June 1945 - Raid by B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers on the Kure Naval Arsenal

1 July 1945 - Firebombing raid by B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers on Kure destroyed 40 percent of the city

24 and 28 July - Large-scale attacks on ships at Kure by the United States Navy, with the US Navy and British Pacific Fleet also striking ships in the Inland Sea area.

28 July 1945 - Raid by 79 B-24 Liberator heavy bombers on ships anchored at Kure

HMAS Norman (G49)

HMAS Norman (G49/D16) was an N-class destroyer operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during World War II. Entering service in 1941, the ship was on loan from the Royal Navy.

Early in her career, Norman participated in Operation Vigorous and the Madagascar campaign, but spent most of the time between 1942 and the start of 1945 on uneventful patrols of the Indian Ocean. In January 1945, the destroyer was involved in the Burma campaign, before being transferred from the British Eastern Fleet to the British Pacific Fleet. During April and May, Norman was involved in the Battle of Okinawa, but then spent the rest of World War II as the duty destroyer at Manus Island.

Norman was returned to the Royal Navy in October 1945. The ship was not reactivated, and was broken up for scrap in 1958.

HMAS Quickmatch (G92)

HMAS Quickmatch (G92/D21/D292/F04) was a Q-class destroyer operated by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Although commissioned into the RAN in 1942, the ship was initially the property of the Royal Navy. Quickmatch served with both the British Eastern Fleet and British Pacific Fleet during World War II. In the 1950s, the destroyer was converted into an anti-submarine frigate. In 1957, Quickmatch operated in support of Malaya during the Malayan Emergency. The ship remained in service until 1963, and after use as an accommodation ship, was sold for scrap in 1972.

HMS Agamemnon (M10)

MV Agamemnon was a cargo liner launched in 1929 for the Blue Funnel Line between United Kingdom ports and the Far East. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for conversion to the auxiliary minelayer HMS Agamemnon. She joined the 1st Minelaying Squadron based at Kyle of Lochalsh (port ZA) laying mines for the World War II Northern Barrage. When minelaying was completed in October 1943, she was retained for conversion to an amenities ship as part of a mobile naval base for British Pacific Fleet warships. She underwent further conversion at Vancouver in 1944 including installation of a movie theater and canteen to be staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. Conversion was incomplete when hostilities with Japan ended, and she was returned to Blue Funnel Line in 1946.

HMS Menestheus

MV Menestheus was a Blue Funnel Liner launched in 1929. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for conversion to the auxiliary minelayer HMS Menestheus. She joined the 1st Minelaying Squadron based at Kyle of Lochalsh (port ZA) laying mines for the World War II Northern Barrage. When minelaying was completed in October 1943, she was retained for conversion to an amenities ship as part of a mobile naval base for British Pacific Fleet warships. She underwent further conversion at Vancouver in 1944 including installation of a movie theater and canteen staffed by mercantile crews of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary service. Conversion included a brewery to make beer for shipboard consumption. The ship had been painted grey for service in the North Atlantic, but was repainted white for service in the western Pacific. Conversion was incomplete when hostilities with Japan ended, and she was returned to Blue Funnel Line in 1946.

HMS Speaker (D90)

HMS Speaker (D90), a Ruler-class escort carrier, based on a "C3" hull, was originally the Bogue-class USS Delgada (AVG/ACV/CVE-40), which was transferred to the United Kingdom under the Lend-Lease program.

HMS Striker (D12)

The name Prince William (CVE-19) (earlier AVG-19 then ACV-19) was assigned to MC hull 198, a converted C3 laid down by the Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Francisco, California, 15 December 1941.

Designated for transfer to the Royal Navy under the Lend-Lease Agreement, she was renamed and launched as HMS Striker (D12), 7 May 1942; redesignated ACV-19, 20 August 1942; delivered to the United States Navy 28 April 1943; and transferred to the Royal Navy 18 May 1943. Redesignated CVE-19, on the US Navy List, 15 July 1943. From March to August 1945 the ship was part of the British Pacific Fleet attached to the 30th Aircraft Carrier Squadron as its flag ship. She served with the Royal Navy throughout the remainder of World War II.

She was returned to the US Navy, at Norfolk, 12 February 1946; struck from the Naval Register, 28 March 1946; and sold to the Patapsco Steel Scrap Co., Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 5 June 1948 and scrapped.

HMS Victorious (R38)

HMS Victorious, ordered under the 1936 Naval Programme, was the third Illustrious-class aircraft carrier after Illustrious and Formidable. She was laid down at the Vickers-Armstrong shipyard at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1937 and launched two years later in 1939. Her commissioning was delayed until 1941 due to the greater need for escort vessels for service in the Battle of the Atlantic.

Her service in 1941 and 1942 included famous actions against the battleship Bismarck, several Arctic convoys, and the Pedestal convoy to Malta. She was loaned to the United States Navy in 1943 and served in the south west Pacific as part of the Third Fleet. Victorious contributed to several attacks on the Tirpitz. The elimination of the German naval threat allowed her redeployment first to the Eastern Fleet at Colombo and then to the Pacific for the final actions of the war against Japan.

After the war, her service was broken by periods in reserve and, between 1950 and 1958, the most complete reconstruction of any Royal Navy carrier. This involved the construction of new superstructure above the hangar deck level, a new angled flight deck, new boilers and the fitting of Type 984 3D Air Warning (AW) and Air Defence (AD) radar and data links and heavy shipboard computers, able to track 50 targets and assess their priority for interrogation and interception. The reduction of Britain's naval commitment in 1967, the end of the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation, and a fire while under refit, prompted her final withdrawal from service, three to five years early, and she was scrapped in 1969.

Ivor Rees (bishop)

John Ivor Rees (19 February 1926 – 11 January 2012) was a Welsh Anglican bishop. He was formerly the Bishop of St David's.Rees was educated at Llanelli Grammar School and the University of Aberystwyth, after World War II service in the Royal Navy (Coastal Forces and the British Pacific Fleet) he was ordained in 1953. After curacies in Fishguard and Llangathen he became priest in charge of Uzmaston. Later he held incumbencies at Slebech, Llangollen and Wrexham before being appointed Dean of Bangor in 1976. In 1988 he became Archdeacon of St David's and an assistant bishop in the diocese. In 1991 he became the diocesan bishop, resigning his see in 1996, due to reaching the retirement age. He was a Sub-Prelate of the Order of St John of Jerusalem from 1993 until 2002.

List of Eastern Fleet ships

The Eastern Fleet was a World War II formation of the British Royal Navy. It was formed from the ships and installations of the East Indies Station and the China Station (which are included in this list), with headquarters at Singapore, moving between Trincomalee and Kilindini after the Japanese advances in south east Asia made Singapore untenable as a naval base. See main article for details.

The following lists the warships and support ships of the Fleet, with dates served, fate and nationality.

List of Fleet Air Arm groups

This is a list of all the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm groups that were formed. There were Carrier Air Groups which administered squadrons which operated on carriers and Training Air Groups which administered squadrons that operated from land bases.

List of squadrons and flotillas of the Royal Navy

This is a List of squadrons and flotillas of the Royal Navy.

No. 243 Squadron RAF

No. 243 Squadron was a flying squadron of the Royal Air Force. Originally formed in August 1918 from two flights that had been part of the Royal Naval Air Service, the squadron conducted anti-submarine patrols during the final stages of World War I. The squadron was later re-raised during World War II, operating initially as a fighter squadron in Malaya and Singapore during 1941–42. It was briefly disbanded just prior to the fall of Singapore, and was re-formed in mid-1942, again as a fighter squadron, and fought in the Tunisian and Italian campaigns in 1942–44, before being disbanded in October 1944. In 1945, after training on transport aircraft in Canada, the squadron moved to Australia where it operated in support of the British Pacific Fleet before disbanding in mid-1946.

Operation Inmate

Operation Inmate was an attack by the British Pacific Fleet against Japanese positions on Truk Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean during the Second World War. The attacks against the isolated islands on 14 and 15 June 1945 were conducted to provide combat experience for the aircraft carrier HMS Implacable and several of the fleet's cruisers and destroyers ahead of their involvement in more demanding operations off the Japanese home islands.

On 14 June 1945 British aircraft conducted a series of raids against Japanese positions at Truk. The next morning, several islands were bombarded by British and Canadian cruisers, though only one of the four warships involved achieved any success. Further air strikes took place in the afternoon and night of 15 June before the Allied force returned to its base.

The attack on Truk was considered successful for the Allied force, with the ships and air units gaining useful experience while suffering two fatalities and the loss of seven aircraft to combat and accidents. The damage to the Japanese facilities in the atoll, which had been repeatedly attacked during 1944 and 1945, was modest.

Operation Outflank

Operation Outflank was the first combat operation of the British Pacific Fleet (BPF). It was a series of raids by the Fleet Air Arm on the oil refineries and storage facilities of the Empire of Japan on the island of Sumatra:

Operation Robson (20 December 1944)

Operation Lentil (4 January 1945)

Operation Meridian I (24 January 1945), II (29 January 1945)Units participating in Outflank received the "Palembang 1945" battle honour, after the main target of the attacks: the refineries at Palembang.

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