Allied Warships

HMS Argonaut (61)

Light cruiser of the Dido class


HMS Argonaut after repairs in the U.S.A. November 1943

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeLight cruiser
ClassDido 
Pennant61 
Built byCammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.) 
Ordered4 Sep 1939 
Laid down21 Nov 1939 
Launched6 Sep 1941 
Commissioned8 Aug 1942 
End service 
History

Argonaut's first mission was to bring some reinforcements, several 3.7" guns and some Norwegian soldiers, to Spitzbergen island. She set sail on October 13th 1942. From there she continued to Murmansk as part of a convoy escort.

Back home, Argonaut left Scapa Flow on October 30th as part of a fleet bound for North Africa as part of Force H, comprising battleships HMS Nelson, HMS Duke of York, HMS Renown, joined later by carriers HMS Illustrious and HMS Formidable. They were going to take part in Operation Torch, the invasion of the French North Africa. During that operation, Argonaut was dispatched as a decoy ship, sending false signals to confuse the Axis forces.

In December 1942, Argonaut joined Force Q. Along with cruisers HMS Aurora and HMS Sirius and destroyers HMS Quentin and HMAS Quiberon. On December 1st the force found an Axis convoy, and engaged in an hour battle, in which the Italian destroyer Folgore and four troopships were sunk, and destroyer Da Recco and a torpedo-boat were damaged. On their way back, they suffered an air attack in which Quentin was sunk. On December 13th Argonaut joined cruiser Aurora and destroyers HMS Eskimo and HMS Quality, and they left Bone to intercept another Axis convoy, which they missed. Instead, on December 14th Argonaut was torpedoed by Italian submarine Mocenigo in position 37.30N, 08.13E. Two torpedoes struck the ship, and blew off both stern and bow. Amazingly, only three crewmen lost their lives in the explosions. Argonaut managed to get to Gibraltar. Provisional repairs proved to be precaroius, and on April 4th 1943 she set sail to Philadelphia, escorted by the destroyer HMS Hero. After a brief scale in the Azores, Hero had engine problems and had to leave Argonaut on her own on April 9th. On April 13th she was sighted by the American destroyer USS Butler, that escorted her to Bermuda, where some additional repairs were done. Escorted by the American minesweepers USS Tumult and USS Pioneer, she reached Philadelphia on April 27th.

The repairs were completed on November 13th 1943. In December 1943, Argonaut joined the Home Fleet and was attached to the 10th Cruiser Division. She took part in the invasion of Normandy, where she fired 4359 shells. Again a lucky ship, she was hit by a German artillery shell that penetrated the quarterdeck and emerged by the starboard side without exploding and without a single casualty.

In August 1944 Argonaut was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet, where she took part in Operation Dragoon (the invasion of Southern France) In September 1944 she was moved to the Aegean Sea, and saw action when she spotted some boats carrying troops, which she sunk, taking many prisoners. She was also involved in some shore bombardments in the Greek coast.

In early November she was ordered to Trincomalee, in the Indian Ocean. She was assigned in escort duties, and involved in the bombardment of Palembang oil fields in Sumatra. She was lucky once more: attacked several times by kamikaze aircrafts, she sustained only minor damages. In January 1945 Argonaut was ordered to Sydney, to join the Pacific Fleet. In February she took part in the shelling of Saskishima (the diversion operation from the main American operation in Okinawa). In August 1945 she sailed to Formosa, to help with the evacuation of British prisoners of war. The same mission brought her to Hong Kong later.

She finally returned to Portsmouth on 6 July 1946, where she was sent to reserve, neved to be recommissioned again. Her last trip was to the Cashmore scrapyard at Newport, South Wales, UK for disposal where she arrived on 19 November 1955.

 

Commands listed for HMS Argonaut (61)

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CommanderFromTo
1Capt. Eric William Longley Longley-Cook, RN21 Apr 19426 Jan 1943
2Cdr. Frederick Stanley Walford, RN6 Jan 194328 Mar 1943
3A/Capt. Henry John Haynes, DSO, DSC, RN28 Mar 194327 Jul 1943
4Cdr. Frederick Stanley Walford, RN27 Jul 194327 Oct 1943
5Capt. Eric William Longley Longley-Cook, RN27 Oct 194310 Jan 1945
6Capt. William Patrick McCarthy, RN10 Jan 1945mid 1946

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Notable events involving Argonaut include:


28 Aug 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), HNoMS Eskdale (Lt.Cdr. S.V. Storheill, RNorN) and possibly other vessels. (1)

9 Sep 1942
HMS H 34 (Lt. J.P.H. Oakley, DSC, RN) conducted A/S exercises at / off Scapa Flow with HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN) and A/S trawlers. (2)

24 Sep 1942
During 24/25 September 1942, HMS Berwick (Capt. G.H. Faulkner, DSC, RN), HMS Sussex (Capt. W.Y.La R. Beverley, RN), HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) and HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), conducted exercises off Scapa Flow. These included night exercises. (3)

30 Oct 1942
' Force H ' departed Scapa Flow to participate in the landings in North Africa (Operation Torch). This force was made up of the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Nelson (Capt. H.B. Jacomb, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN). They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN) and HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN).

Around 1000/31, they made rendezvous with the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN) and HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN) and their escort of the destroyers HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN). These ships had departed the Clyde around 2300/30.

At 1600/2 the destroyers HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN), HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) departed Gibraltar to make rendezvous with ' Force H '. They joined around 0730/4 after which HMS Argonaut, HMS Milne, HMS Martin, HMS Meteor, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin, HMAS Quiberon, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Partridge, HMS Ashanti, HMS Eskimo and HMS Tartar, parted company to proceed to Gibraltar to fuel. These ships arrived at Gibraltar around 1430/5. Of the original screen only HMS Porcupine remained with ' Force H ' at this moment.

Around 1730/4, the light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN) joined.

Around 0830/5, the destroyer HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) joined from convoy KMF 1.

around 1400/5, the escort destroyers HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN) and HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) joined. They had sailed from Gibraltar at 0700/5.

Around 1740/5, HMS Duke of York and HMS Renown parted company to fuel in the Bay of Gibraltar. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Panther, HMS Penn, HMS Opportune, HMS Lookout, HMS Beagle and HMS Bulldog. The remaining ships remained to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Around 2200/5, the remaining ships; HMS Nelson, HMS Victorious, HMS Formidable, HMS Bermuda, HMS Porcupine, HMS Boadicea, HMS Brilliant, HrMs Isaac Sweers, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge set course to the west to the Straits of Gibraltar.

On passing the Straits, HMS Nelson escorted by HMS Porcupine and HrMs Isaac Sweers parted company around 0420/6 and proceeded to Gibraltar. They passed through the gate around one hour later.

6 Nov 1942
On 6 November 1942, ' Force H ' was (re)assambled at sea to the east of Gibraltar to provide cover during the landings in North-Africa.

Around 0430/6, the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious (Capt. H.C. Bovell, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral A.L.St.G. Lyster, CB, CVO, DSO, RN), HMS Formidable (Capt. A.G. Talbot, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Bermuda (Capt. T.H. Back, RN), destroyers HMS Boadicea (Lt.Cdr. F.C. Brodrick, RN), HMS Brilliant (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Poe, RN) and the escort destroyers HMS Avon Vale (Lt.Cdr. P.A.R. Withers, DSO, RN), HMS Calpe (Lt.Cdr. H. Kirkwood, DSC, RN), HMS Farndale (Cdr. D.P. Trentham, RN) and HMS Puckeridge (Lt. J.C. Cartwright, DSC, RN) entered the Mediterranean.

They were then joined by ships coming from Gibraltar (Bay), these were the battleships HMS Duke of York (Capt. G.E. Creasy, DSO, RN, flying the flag of flying the flag of Vice-Admiral E.N. Syfret, CB, RN), HMS Rodney (Capt. J.W. Rivett-Carnac, DSC, RN), battlecruiser HMS Renown (Capt. C.S. Daniel, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, RN), destroyers HMS Milne (Capt. I.M.R. Campbell, RN), HMS Martin (Cdr. C.R.P. Thomson, DSO, RN), HMS Meteor (Lt.Cdr. D.J.B. Jewitt, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. G.L. Farnfield, DSO, RN) and HMS Quentin (Lt.Cdr. A.H.P. Noble, DSC, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Cdr. H.W.S. Browning, OBE, RN), HMS Panther (Lt.Cdr. R.W. Jocelyn, RN), HMS Pathfinder (Cdr. E.A. Gibbs, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Partridge (Lt.Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSC, OBE, RN), HMS Penn (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Swain, RN), HMS Opportune (Cdr. J. Lee-Barber, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Lookout (Lt.Cdr. A.G. Forman, DSC, RN), HMS Ashanti (Cdr. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN), HMS Eskimo (Capt. J.W.M. Eaton, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Tartar (Cdr. St.J.R.J. Tyrwhitt, DSC, RN), HMS Beagle (Cdr. R.C. Medley, DSO, RN), HMS Boreas (Lt.Cdr. E.L. Jones, DSC, RN) and HMS Bulldog (Cdr. M. Richmond, OBE, DSO, RN).

HMS Boadicea, HMS Brilliant, HMS Avon Vale, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge were then detached to Gibraltar where they arrived around 0615/6.

Around 0900/6, the light cruiser HMS Sirius (Capt. P.W.B. Brooking, RN) joined.

The orders for ' Force H ' were to support the Eastern (Algiers) and Centre Task Forces (Oran) and their follow-up convoys (TE and TF) agains seaborne attack by Vichy-French or Italian Mediterranean Fleets. ' Force H ' was not to proceed eastwards of 04°30'E except to engage the enemy. Unless strong enemy forces were reported to be at sea, HMS Rodney, escorted by HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas, HMS Bulldog were to join the Centre Task Force at 0600/8. HMS Bermuda might also be detached but to join the Eastern Task Force. ' Force H ' was to refuel from ' Force R ' at sea if necessary, but if the military situation permitted, it would withdraw to the westward to refuel, possibly at Oran about 13 November, in immediate readiness for further operations. Force R ' was made up of the RFA tankders Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941, master R.T. Duthie) and Brown Ranger (3417 GRT, built 1941, master D.B.C. Ralph). Escort was provided by the corvette HMS Coreopsis (Lt.Cdr. A.H. Davies, RNVR) and four A/S trawlers, HMS Arctic Ranger (Skr. J.F. Banks, RNR), HMS Imperialist (T/Lt. A.R.F. Pelling, RNR), HMS Loch Oskaig (T/Lt. G.T.S. Clampitt, RNR) and HMS St. Nectan (Lt. J.B. Osborne, RANVR).

Around 1730/7, ' Force H ' was attacked by enemy aircraft in position 37°46'N, 02°52'E. HMS Panther was near missed and sustained damage. She had to return to Gibraltar, first steaming only 6 knots but later this could be increased to 14 knots. En-route she sighted an enemy submarine in position 37°46'N, 02°12'E and forced it to dive. This was U-458 which fired two torpedoes but apparently these were not sighted by the British. HMS Panther arrived at Gibraltar in the afternoon of November 8th.

At 1810/7, HMS Rodney, HMS Beagle, HMS Boreas and HMS Bulldog parted company with ' Force H ' to join the Centre Task Force. HMS Bermuda appeared to also have parted company around this time.

' Force H ' and the fuelling force, ' Force R ', cruised in the area of Algiers until 1830/8 when ' Force H ' turned north. It turned back at midnight when in position 39°00'N, 02°29'E and patrolled off Algiers again during the 9th. During the night of 9/10 November it steamed eastwards at 60 miles from the North-African coast, turning back 30 miles to the east of Bougie at midnight.

Shortly before 0300/10 (0252/10 according to German sources and 0258/10 according to British sources) the destroyer HMS Martin was torpedoed and sunk in position 37°53'N, 03°57'E by the German submarine U-431. 161 officers and ratings lost their lives. 4 Officers and 59 ratings were picked up by HMS Quentin.

By noon on 10 November ' Force H ' was in position 37°08'N, 01°36'E, between Algiers and Tenez, with ' Force R ' close at hand. From then onwards ' Force H ' patrolled 60 miles from the coast between Algiers and Cape Tenez.

' Force H ' was joined around 0630/12 by HMS Rodney and her destroyer screen now made of of the escort destroyersHMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge.

Late in the evening of the 11th the destroyers HMS Porcupine (Cdr. G.S. Stewart, RAN) and HrMs Isaac Sweers (Capt. W. Harmsen, RNN) departed Gibaltar to join ' Force H '. Before joining they fuelled from ' Force R ' in the evening of the 12th. They had been ordered to remain with ' Force R ' during the night to reinforce its escort and then join ' Force H ' after dawn on the 13th. However before the joined, HrMs Isaac Sweers was torpedoed and sunk by U-431, so only HMS Porcupine joined ' Force H ' early on the 13th.

At 0615/14 ' Force H ' split up to return to Gibraltar; HMS Duke of York, HMS Formidable, HMS Bermuda, HMS Argonaut, HMS Sirius, HMS Eskimo, HMS Ashanti, HMS Tartar, HMS Opportune, HMS Partridge, HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn and HMS Porcupine arrived at Gibraltar around 0130/15.

HMS Rodney, HMS Renown, HMS Victorious, HMS Milne, HMS Meteor, HMS Quality, HMS Quentin, HMS Quiberon, HMS Lookout, HMS Calpe, HMS Farndale and HMS Puckeridge formed the other group. They were joined at 0630/15 by HMS Scylla (Capt. I.A.P. Macintyre, CBE, RN) and HMS Charybdis (Capt. G.A.W. Voelcker, RN). They returned to Gibraltar around 1800/15 but HMS Rodney was not able to berth and had to steam up and down in Gibraltar Bay until late in the evening when she anchorded there. The destroyers HMS Pathfinder, HMS Penn, HMS Opportune and HMS Tartar were sent out to patrol to the seaward of the Bay.

1 Jan 1945

Operation Lentil.

Air strikes against oil refineries at Pangkalan-Brandan (North-East Sumatra).

On 1 January 1945 a Force made up of the aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), heavy cruiser HMS Suffolk (Capt. D. Gilmour, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. D.H.P. Gardiner, DSC, RN) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) departed Trincomalee for an air strike on oil refineries at Pangkalan-Brandan (North-East Sumatra).

On the morning of 4 January 1945, 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.

In the afternoon of 6 January 1945, HMS Indifatigable, HMS Sussex, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Wakeful and HMS Uriana parted company with the remainder of the Force. These ships were to proceed to Colombo.

All ships from the force arrived at Trincomalee / Colombo on 7 January 1945. (4)

16 Jan 1945

Operation Meridian.

Air strikes against oil installations in the Palembang area (South-East Sumatra).

On 16 January 1945 ' Force 63 ' made up of the battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), aircraft carriers HMS Indomitable (Capt. J.A.S. Eccles, RN, flying the flag of Rear Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Illustrious (Capt. C.E. Lambe, CB, CVO, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Argonaut (Capt. E.W.L. Longley-Cook, CBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN), HMS Ceylon (Capt. G.B. Amery-Parkes, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMCS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN), HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN), HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN) and Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Wessex apparently sailed from Trincomalee on the 17th and joined the Force at sea on the 19th.

An oiling force (' Force 69 ') made up of the tankers Echodale (8150 GRT, built 1941), Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944) and Empire Salvage (10746 GRT, built 1940) had already departed Trincomalee on 13 January. They were escorted by the destroyer HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR). A fouth tanker, the Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937) joined ' force 69 ' on 23 January coming from Fremantle.

The submarines HMS Tantalus (Lt.Cdr. H.S. Mackenzie, DSO and Bar, RN), HMS Tantivy (Lt. P.S. May, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt. W.St.G. Anderson, DSC, RNR) were positioned for air/sea rescue duties. (Tantalus east of Sumatra, Tantivy west of Sumatra and Sturdy in the Sunda Strait area.)

On 20 January ships from ' Force 63 ' were refuelled by ' Force 69 '. Due to the weather conditions this was done only with difficulty and some of the refuelling gear of the tankers was damaged. HMS Ceylon was now assigned to ' Force 69 ' to give protection to this Force. [Note: Arndale at this moment was not yet with ' Force 69 '.]

' Force 63 ' then proceeded on the first phase of the operation, to launch air strikes on the oil installations at Pladjoe (north of Palembang) which were to be flown off on 21 January but the weather prevented this. It was only at 24 January that the weather had cleared to enable flying operations. 43 Avengers, 12 Firefly's (equipped with rockets) and 50 Hellcat, Corsair and Seafire fighters were flown off. The enemy installations were damaged but at the cost of no less then 32 aircraft due to enemy action (7) or crash landings (25). 14 enemy fighters were reported shot down in the air and 38 aircraft were reported to have been destroyed on the gound.

' Force 63 ' then retired from the area to rendezvous with ' Force 69 ' and refuel. This was done on 26 / 27 January.

' Force 63 ' then proceeded to the launch position for the second phase of operation during which air attacks were to be made on oil installations at Soengi-Gerong (also near Palembang). 48 Avenger, 10 Fireflies, 24 Corsairs and 16 Hellcats were launched. During dogfight 30 Japanese aircraft were shot down and another 38 were reported as having been destroyed on the ground. 16 aircraft did not return to the carriers.

A Japanese counter attack with 12 bombers failed. All were shot down by fighters from the Combat Air Patrol or AA fire from the ships.

' Force 63 ' then fuelled again from ' Force 69 ' on 30 January.

' Force 63 ' arrived at Fremantle on 4 February 1945.

' Force 69 ', minus Arndale and Wave King returned to Trincomalee on 6 February 1945. The other two tankers went to Australia. HMS Ceylon had parted company with ' Force 69 ' on 4 February and arrived at Trincomalee on 5 February.

22 Jul 1945
At dusk on 22 July 1945, Task Force 37 had completed underway replenishment operations and set course to proceed to the north-west towards the new operations area off Shikoku Island.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

At 0300/24 Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control of Task Force 37 for the period of the upcoming flying operations. 45 minutes later the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and first strikes were launched against the port of Tokushima on the island of Shikoku.

Air operations continued throughout the day against targets in the Inland Sea and the islands of Shikoku, Kyushu and Honshu.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and Vice-Admiral Rawlings assumed tactical command and Task Force 37 retired to the east.

At 0300/25, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control for the duration of the flying operations of that day.

At 0345/25, the first aircraft of the day were flown off, which was the Combat Air Patrol. Air strikes were also flown off, the targets were the same as the day before.

In the evening a group of enemy aircraft was intercepted approaching Task Force 37; It were Hellcats from HMS Formidable which intercepted the attackers, shooting down three and driving off the remainder.

At dusk on the 25th, after all aircraft had been landed on, Vice-Admiral Rawlings once again assumed tactical control and Task Force 37 proceeded southwards towards replenishment area, 'British Tizzy' (28°00'N, 138°55'E, approximately 460 miles south of Tokyo).

In the morning of the 26th, Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 and replenishment commenced. Task Unit 112 consisted of the RFA tankers Olna (12667 GRT, built 1945), Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938), victualling stores ship Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), stores ship Corinda (3376 grt, built 1937). Also part of this force were the escort carriers HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN), HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN), which carried with replacement aircraft. Task Unit 112 was escorted by light cruiser HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR), HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR).

At dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 for the night.

In the morning of the 27th replenishment re-commenced. HMCS Uganda parted company with Task Force 37 and proceeded to Esquimalt via Pearl Harbour. HMS Argonaut then joined Task Force 37.

After having completed replenishment Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 and set course to the north-west to return the operations area off Japan. (4)

28 Jul 1945
At dusk on 28 July 1945, Task Force 37 had completed underway replenishment operations and set course to proceed to the north-west towards the new operations area off Shikoku Island.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

At 0330/28, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control of Task Force 37 during the days flying operations.

At 0400/28, from approximate position 31°30'N, 135°00'E (south of Shikoku), the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and first strike aircraft were also launched. The targets were the port of Harima and targets of opportunity, mainly in and around the Inland Sea. The naval base of Maizuru was also attacked. British aircraft sank the Japanese frigates Kaibokan 4 (offsite link) in Ise Bay.

At dusk all aircraft were recovered and Vice-Admiral Rawlings assumed tactical command for the night.

At 0330/29, Vice-Admiral Vian assumed tactical control for the duration the flying operations. At 0400/29, the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and also the first strike aircraft were launched. They were however soon recalled when it was found out that fog was obscuring the selected targets.

Around 1200/29, HMS King George V was detached. She was to make rendezvous with the to carry out a bombardment of the city of Hamamatsu together with ships from the US Task Unit 34.8.1. HMS King George V was screened by the destroyers HMS Undine, HMS Ulysses and HMS Urania.

The target that had been selected for HMS King George V was the Japanese Musical Instrument Company, this may sound strange but at the time they were manufacturing propellers instead of musical instruments.

Before the bombardment commenced however the destroyers Urania and Ulysses collided with each other and HMS Ulysses sustained some damage.

At 2319/29, HMS King Geore V opened fire on her target from a range of about 20000 yards. She fired a total of 265 14" shells but only a few were seen by the spotter aircraft to have hit the target.

During the bombardment HMS Undine engaged some small groups of ships, most likely fishing vessels.

The bombardment was over at 2356/29 and HMS King George V and her escorting destroyers set course to rejoin Task Force 37 which she did at 0600/30.

At 0330/30, Vice-Admiral Vian again assumed tactical control for the days flying operations. Half an hour later the the Combat Air Patrol was flown off and the first strike aircraft were launched but one again the first strike ran into fog over the coast. targets for this day were airfields around Tokyo and the large naval base at Maizuru.

Around dawn, after the last aircraft had been recovered Task Force 37 set course to the south towards the replenishment area. Vice-Admiral Rawlings resumed tactical command.

At 0900/31 Task Force 37 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 near point ' British Tizzy ' and replenishment commenced shortly afterward despite the worsening weather conditions. Task Unit 112 consisted of the RFA tankers Olna (12667 GRT, built 1945), Wave Governor (8190 GRT, built 1945), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), Carelia (8082 GRT, built 1938), victualling stores ship Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), stores ship Corinda (3376 grt, built 1937). Also part of this force were the escort carriers HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN), HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN) and HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN), which carried with replacement aircraft as well as the radar and radio repair vessel HMNZS Arbutus (T/Lt. N.D. Blair, RNZNVR). Task Unit 112 was escorted by the destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), sloops HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN), HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), HMS Redpole (Lt.Cdr. E.J. Lee, RN), HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Derg (Lt.Cdr. N.B.J. Stapleton, RD, RNR), HMS Odzani (A/Lt.Cdr. J.N. Burgess, RANVR) and the minesweeper/corvette HMAS Pirie (Lt. C.K. Mackenzie, RANVR). During the replenishment Rear-Admiral Edelsten was transferred from HMS Barfleur to HMS Speaker for onward passage back to Manus.

As usual, at dusk Task Force 37 detached from Task Unit 112 for the night.

Replenishment was completed on August 3rd and course was then set to return to the operations area off Japan. (4)

3 Aug 1945
Having completed replenishment around noon on 3 August, Task Force 37 set course to proceed to the northwards to the operations area off Japan.

Task Force 37 was at that moment made up the following units;
CTF 37; battleship HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN, 2nd in command British Pacific Fleet).

CTU 37.1.1; aircraft carriers HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral P.L. Vian, KCB, KBE, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Victorious (Capt. M.M. Denny, CB, CBE, RN), Implacable (Capt. C.C. Hughes-Hallett, RN) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.4; light cruisers HMS Newfoundland (Capt. R.W. Ravenhill, CBE, DSC, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. R.A.B. Edwards, CBE, RN), HMNZS Achilles (Capt. F.J. Butler, MBE, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellesis, RN) and HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN).

CTU 37.1.5; HMS Barfleur (Cdr. M.S. Townsend, DSO, DSC and Bar, OBE, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Grenville (Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO, RN, Capt. D 25), HMS Ulysses (Lt.Cdr. B.G.B. Bordes, DSC, RN), HMS Undaunted (Lt.Cdr. C.E.R. Sharp, RN), HMS Undine (Cdr. T.C. Robinson, RN), HMS Urania (Lt.Cdr. J.M. Alliston, DSO, DSC, RN), HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR), HMS Quadrant (Lt.Cdr. P.C. Hopkins, RN), HMS Quality (Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. F.G.E. Knox, DSO, RAN) and HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. J.K. Walton, RAN). HMS Troubridge (Capt. G.F. Burghard, RN, Capt. D 24), HMS Teazer (Lt.Cdr. T.F. Taylor, DSC, RN), HMS Tenacious (Lt.Cdr. D.F. Townsend, RN), HMS Termagent (Lt.Cdr. J.P. Scatchard, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Terpsichore (Cdr. R.T. White, DSO and 2 Bars, RN), HMS Wakeful (Lt.Cdr. G.D. Pound, DSC, RN), HMS Wrangler (Lt.Cdr. E.G. Warren, RN) and HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN).

While En-route to the operational area a signal was received from the US Fleet Admiral Nimitz to all units of the US 3rd Fleet (which included the British Pacific Fleet) ordering them to cease offensive strikes and do not close the coast of Japan to within 300 miles. This was because the first atomic bomb was about to be dropped. Vice-Admiral Rawlings was informed off this not by signal but some British liaison officers with the US Fleet were put on board the flagship by a US destroyer to inform the Vice-Admiral in person and strict secrecy.

At 0815/6, around the time the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima Task Force 37 was in approximate position 34°30'N, 146°00'E, some 315 nautical miles east of Tokyo.

Shortly afterwards they made rendezvous with Task Unit 112 now made up of the tankers Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941), San Amado (7316 GRT, built 1935), Wave King (8190 GRT, built 1944), stores ships Glenartney (9795 GRT, built 1940), and Fort Wrangell (7213 GRT, built 1944), ammunition ship Robert Maersk (2290 GRT, built 1937), escort carriers HMS Arbiter (Capt. D.H. Everett, DSO, RN), HMS Chaser (Capt. R.G. Poole, RN) and HMS Ruler (Capt. H.P. Currey, OBE, RN). They were escorted by destroyers HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN), HMAS Nizam (A/Lt.Cdr. W.F. Cook, RAN), sloop HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN), frigate HMS Barle (T/A/Lt.Cdr. J. Duncan, DSC, RNR) and minesweepers/corvettes HMAS Ballarat (A/Cdr. N.R. Read, RAN) and HMAS Burnie (Lt.Cdr. E.M. Andrewartha, RANR). Replenishment started soon afterwards.

As usual Task Force 37 detached at dusk from Task Unit 112 for the night.

In the morning of the 7th, Task Force 37 continued with replenishment from Task Unit 112. HMAS Nizam detached from Task Unit 112 and joined Task Force 37.

In the late afternoon of the 7th, Task Force 37 completed replenishment and detached from Task Unit 112 and set course for the north-west towards the operations area.

Sources

  1. ADM 173/17240
  2. ADM 173/17241
  3. ADM 53/116682
  4. ADM 199/1457

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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