Allied Warships

HMS Slinger (D 26)

Escort Carrier of the Ameer class

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeEscort Carrier
ClassAmeer 
PennantD 26 
Built bySeattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp. (Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.) 
Ordered 
Laid down25 May 1942 
Launched19 Sep 1942 
Commissioned11 Aug 1943 
End service27 Feb 1946 
History

Transferred to the Royal Navy under lend-lease.
Returned to the United States Navy on 27 February 1946.
Stricken by the United States Navy on 12 April 1946.
Sold into merchantile service being renamed Robin Mowbray.
Scrapped in Taiwan in January 1970.

 
Former nameUSS Chatham

Commands listed for HMS Slinger (D 26)

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CommanderFromTo
1A/Capt. Alexander Noel Campbell Bingley, OBE, RNJun 1943Apr/May 44

2Capt. Barrington Lungley Moore, RN9 Jun 194419 May 1945
3A/Cdr. Jack Gethin Hopkins, RN19 May 194527 Feb 1946

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Notable events involving Slinger include:


23 Mar 1945

The British Pacific Fleet during Operation Iceberg, the landings on Okinawa (1st phase).

The British Pacific Fleet, now known as Task Force 57, departed Ulithi for the operations area near Okinawa.

The task for Task Force 57 is to neutralize airfields in the Sakishima Gunto to the south-west of Okinawa.

Task Force 57 was made up of the battleships HMS King George V (Capt. T.E. Halsey, DSO, RN, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral H.B. Rawlings, KCB, OBE, RN), HMS Howe (Capt. H.W.U. McCall, DSO, 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) and HMS Indefatigable (Capt. Q.D. Graham, CBE, DSO, RN), light cruisers HMS Swiftsure (Capt. P.V. McLaughlin, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral E.J.P. Brind, CBE, CB, RN), HMNZS Gambia (Capt. N.J.W. William-Powlett, DSC, RN), HMS Argonaut (Capt. W.P. McCarthy, RN), HMS Euryalus (Capt. R. Oliver-Bellasis, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten, CB, CBE, RN), HMS Black Prince (Capt. D.M. Lees, DSO, RN) and the destroyers HMS Grenville (Capt. H.P. Henderson, RN), HMS Ulster (Lt.Cdr. R.J. Hanson, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN), HMS 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), HMAS Quickmatch (Cdr. O.H. Becher, DSC and Bar, RAN, with Capt. R.G. Onslow, DSO and 2 Bars, RN, on board), HMAS Quiberon (Lt.Cdr. G.F.E. Knox, RAN), HMS Queenborough (Cdr. P.L. Saumarez, DSC and Bar, RN), HMS Quality (Lt.Cdr. the Viscount Jocelyn, RN), HMS Wager (Lt.Cdr. R.C. Watkin, RN) and HMS Whelp (Cdr. G.A.F. Norfolk, RN).

On 25 March the fleet met with the replenishment groups Task Group 112.2.1 and Task Group 112.2.5 and the cruisers and destroyers fuelled throughout the morning and first part of the afternoon. Weather conditions were not suitable and not all ships were able to complete with fuel for 100%.

These two Task Groups had departed Manus on 17 March 1945 and their composition was as follows;
Task Group 112.2.1, was made up of the escort carrier HMS Striker (Capt. W.P. Carne, RN) (with replacement aircraft) and the RFA tankers Cedardale (8132 GRT, built 1939), San Ambrosio (7410 GRT, built 1935) and San Adolpho (7365 GRT, built 1935). They were escorted by the destroyer Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN), sloop HMS Crane (Lt.Cdr. R.G. Jenkins, DSC, RN) and frigate HMS Findhorn (Lt.Cdr. J.C. Dawson, RNR).

Task Group 112.2.5 was made up of the escort carrier HMS Speaker (A/Capt. U.H.R. James, RN) (for Combat Air Patrol duties), destroyer HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) and sloop HMS Pheasant (Lt.Cdr. J.B. Palmer, RN).

HMS Wager, which had bearing trouble joined Task Group 112.2.1 being substituted with HMS Whirlwind (Cdr. W.A.F. Hawkins, DSO, DSC, OBE, RN).

HMS Quality, which also had defects, was substituted with HMS Kempenfelt (Capt. E.G. McGregor, DSO, RN) from Task Group 112.2.5.

26 March 1945.

Task Force 57 arrived in her operations area.

At 0605I/26, the Combat Air Patrol and A/S patrol were flown off, whilst HMS Argonaut and HMS Kempenfelt were detached to carry out picket duties warning the Fleet in advance of the possible approach of enemy aircraft.

At sunrise, at 0635I/26 strong fighter sweeps were flown off from a position 100 miles 180° from Miyako Jima to attack the enemy airfields at Ishigaki and Miyako. They reported little activity there. At 0850I/26, one aircraft was reported to have ditched 20 miles from Tarima Shima. A Walrus aircraft was flown off and subsequently rescued the pilot.

These fighter sweeps were followed by two escorted bombers strikes and one fighter bomber strike with airfields and associated buildings as targets. Withdrawal was begun at dusk.

At 0940I/26, a Mitsubishi Ki-46 ' Dinah ' was intercepted by the Combat Air Patrol but it managed to escape. It was apparent that the Fleet had been reported but no attacks developed.

After the last aircraft had flown on Task Group 57 disengaged to the south-eastward. The night was fine and the moon bright and an enemy air attack was considered likely.

27 March 1945.

At 0245I/27, a bogey to the eastward was contacted by radar. As it seemed that Task Force 57 was being shadowed course was altered in an attempt to shake off the aircraft.

At 0307I/27, HMS Euryalus was ordered to open out from the screen and fire at the enemy aircraft which then remained at a respectful distance for a time. A Hellcat was then flown off to intercept but the moon became obscured by a cloud and the enemy made good his escape. At 0305I/27 Japanese transmissions had been reported and Task Force 57 commenced jamming.

At sunrise a fighter sweep was sent to Ishigaki only from a flying off position 100 miles 180° from Miyako Jima. No increased acitivity was reported. Two bomber strikes were directed against radio stations, barracks and airfields not covered the previous day. Coasters off the islands were also attacked. The final strike was a small fighter bomber strike. Withdrawal was begun at dusk.

At 1130I/27, HMS Undine escorted by fighters was despatched to the rescue of an aircraft which had ditched 56 miles from the flying off position. At 1750I/27, she rejoined the Fleet having picked up the Avenger crew and also a United States Corsair pilot who was discovered after having been adrift for 48 hours.

The American (rescue) submarine USS Kingfish (T/Lt.Cdr. T.E. Harper, USN) was requisted to keep a good lookout for any of our ditched aircrews, but apparently she had not been fully instructed by the American authorities as she replied that 'she would have to ask her boss first'. The first situation was soon clarified and USS Kingfish was ordered to act as rescue submarine when required. At 1805I/27, USS Kingfish reported that she had rescued the pilot of one of HMS Illustrious's Avengers.

It had been intended that Task Force 57 should continue operating off Sakishimi Gunto, the day's programme to include a bombardment of Ishigaki, but Guam reported a typhoon to the southward whose position and estimated track appeared to threaten the fuelling area. The risk of bad weather completely dislocating fuelling for some time would have precluded Task Force 57 from returning to the operating area during the time of the initial landings on Okinawa. This was not acceptable. The necessity to withdraw to the fuelling area was accentuated by certain ships having been short of fuel at the commencement of the operation.

28 March 1945.

At 0730I/28 made contact with Task Unit 112.2.5 and Task Unit 112.2.1 in area Midge, a rectangle extending 50 miles to the south and 100 miles to the west of 19°55'N, 129°40'E. Fuelling and transfer of replacement aircraft continued throughout the day. The Fleet disengaged from the tanker group for the night.

At 1835I/28, HMS Striker parted company with the Fleet Train to proceed to Leyte escorted by HMS Crane.

29 March 1945.

The fuelling of the Fleet proceeded with constant interruptions and delays caused by hoses parting etc. Aircraft carriers experienced great difficulty in obtaining supplies of Avgas for this reason.

Rear-Admiral J.H. Edelsten transferred his flag from HMS Euryalus to HMS Whirlwind and proceeded in the afternoon with HMS Striker and HMS Crane for Leyte. HMS Quality and HMS Whelp rejoined Task Force 57, HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Whirlwind rejoining Task Unit 112.2.5 and 112.2.1 repectively.

30 March 1945.

At 1430I/30 after many more delays due to leaking hoses fuelling was completed and Task Force 57 departed at 22 knots for the operating area.

31 March 1945.

As usual the Combat Air Patrol and A/S Patrol were flown off around dawn. At 0530I/31, HMS Argonaut and HMS Wager were detached to a position 300°, 30 miles from the Fleet centre to act as pickets to prevent enemy aircraft returning with our own strikes. HMS Argonaut was chosen for this purpose as having the most suitable radar outfit.

At 0630I/31, a fighter sweep was sent in from a flying-off position 23°10'N, 125°23'E and thereafter fighter patrols were maintained over Ishigaki and Miyako. There appeared to be little activity in either island. Two bomber strikes were sent against Ishigaki airfield, installations and barracks. USS Kingfish again did useful service and rescued the crew of an Avenger which had ditched. At dusk the Fleet disengaged to the south-westward. Two fighters were kept at readiness from moonrise but the Fleet was not shadowed.

1 April 1945.

Around dawn HMS Argonaut and HMS Wager were again detached to proceed to their picket positions and at 0640I/1 a fighter sweep was sent in from a flying off position 23°26'N, 125°25'E.

At 0650I/1, bogeys were detected by radar 75 miles to the westward at a height of 8000 feet closing at 210 knots. The fighter sweep was recalled to intercept and additional fighters were flown off.

The raid split up more then 40 miles from the Fleet. The first interception was by Corsairs from HMS Victorious which shot down one enemy. Seafires shot down two more close to the Fleet and a fourth was destroyed by Hellcats recalled from the fighter sweep. At 0705I/1 the Fleet had been alerted to ' Flash Red ' and a few minutes later the enemy planes commenced their attacks.

One enemy single engined aircraft machine-gunned HMS Indomitable in a low attack killing one rating and wounding two officers and four ratings. Still flying very low it made a similar attack on HMS King George V but without causing casualties. Considerable difficulty was experienced in identifying enemy from our own planes who where hard on the enemy heels.

At 0727I/1, an enemy plane dived into the base of HMS Indefatigable's island. Four officers and ten ratings were killed and sixteen of her complement were wounded. The flight deck was put temporarily out of action, but within a remarkale short time, and in a most creditable manner, aircraft were again being operated from this ship athough that day on a reduced scale.

At about 0755I/1, HMS Ulster was near missed by what appeared to be a 500lb. bomb from an aircraft then being chased by one of our fighters. She reported that the bulkhead between the engine-room and the after boiler room had blown, flooding both compardments, but that the ship was floating well. Casualties were two killed and one seriously wounded. She was unable to steam but her armament remained effective. HMAS Quiberon was ordered to stand by her and as soon as the raid was over, HMNZS Gambia was ordered to tow her to Leyte.

At 1215I/1, a bombing strike was sent in against Ishigaki to bomb airfields and runways. No activity was noted. At 1430I/1, reports were received from combat patrols over the islands that more aircraft had been sighted at Hirara and Ishigaki airfields. These were attacked by the fighter patrols and were followed by a fighter sweep. It was estimated that about 14 enemy aircraft were detroyed on the ground during this attack and others damaged.

At 1730I/1, a low flying bogey was detected by radar at a range of 15 miles to the north-westward. Hellcats were sent to intercept this raid which developed into 2 plus but the enemy avoided them in cloid. Soon afterwards the Fleet sighted the enemy and opened fire, sometimes it is regretted, at fiendly fighters. One enemy aircraft dived on HMS Victorious, her swing under full helm was successful and the plane touched its wing only on the flight deck edge spinning harmlessly into the sea where its bomb exploded clear of the ship. The manuscript instructions to the pilot were blown on board HMS Victorious. This interesting document donoting priority of targets for suicide planes, has been translated and the contents forwarded to intelligence centre. It seems certain that Victorious's guns hit this aircraft during its dive.

At dusk the Fleet disengaged to the south-eastward.

2 April 1945.

It was evident from experience the day before that the Japanese had started staging ito the Sakishima airfields and it was therefore decided to cancel the planned bombardment in favour of air operations.

The absence of enemy activity noticed by the first fighter sweep the previous day made it appear likely that enemy might be leaving the airfields at first light. In consequence two aircraft from HMS Indomitable, having been flown off by moonlight, were sent to Ishigaki at 0510I/2. Two other aircraft flown off at the same time and destined for Miyako were unable to proceed owing to radio failures. No activity was reported from Ishigaki.

At 0630I/2, from a flying off position 23°12'N, 126°02'E a fighter Ramrod left to attack all airfields before the Fleet withdrew. Little activity was noticed, but one airborne Zeke (Mitsubishi A6M 'Zero') was shot down over Ishigaki by Hellcats.

After landing on the fighter Ramrod at 1045I/2, the Fleet withdrew to fuelling area Midge, maintaining a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) of 12 aircraft until 1600I/2, and a CAP of 8 aircraft until dark.

It was very disappointing to cancel the bombardment again. Once however enemy aircraft begin staging through or operating from an aerodrome the most profitable means of destroying them is by air and not by guns.

At 1450I/2, HMS Illustrious reported man overboard. Fighters of the CAP and destroyers were sent to search and the Fleet was turned 360° for a period. Unfortunately the man was not recovered.

3 April 1945.

At 0630I/3, there was no sign of the tanker group in rendezvous position Midge One (19°12'N, 128°00'E). Weather was a heavy N.E. swell, wind north force 5. Spread HMS Swiftsure, HMS Argonaut and HMS Euryalus to carry out a search.

At 0900I/3, W/T contact was made with the tanker group.

At 1320I/3, contact was made with Task Units 112.2.5 and 112.2.2. The weather and cross swell were too heavy to attempt fuelling. The Fleet remained in the area throughout the day, but towards the evening, meteorological information suggesting more suitable weather to the westward, the Fleet with tankers turned west towards area Mosquito.

An American Task Group of Task Force 58 had meanwhile been ordered to cover Sakishima Gunto during Task Force 57's underway replenishment.

4 April 1945.

0630I/4, Task Units 112.2.2 and 112.2.3 joined from Leyte. These were made up of the escort carrier HMS Slinger (Capt. B.L. Moore, RN) (with replacement aircraft) and the tankers Wave King (8159 GRT, built 1944), Wave Monarch (8159 GRT, built 1944), Arndale (8296 GRT, built 1937), Dingledale (8145 GRT, built 1941) and Aase Maersk (6184 GRT, built 1930). They were escorted by the sloop HMS Woodcock (A/Lt.Cdr. S.J. Parsons, DSC, RN), frigates HMS Avon (Lt.Cdr. P.G.A. King, RD, RNR), HMS Parrett (Lt.Cdr.(Retd.) T. Hood, RNR) and the corvettes (minesweepers) HMAS Bendigo (Lt. W. Jackson, RANVR) and HMAS Pirie (A/Cdr. A.J. Travis, RAN).

At 0730I/4, fuelling was commenced as well as stores being transferred and replacement aircraft being flown over. The swell was heavy in position Mosquito One (19°37'N, 124°42'E). Fuelling proceeded throughout the day with many interruptions due to weak oiling gear and especially due to parting Avgas hoses.

At 1920I/4, the Fleet disengaged from the tanker group for the night.

5 April 1945.

At 0630I/5, the Fleet continued to fuel in position Mosquito One, the weather conditions having considerably improved. The transfer of essential stores, correspondence mail and casualties by destroyers and escort vessels seriously weakened the A/S screen and for future replenishment operation additional A/S escorts were requisted.

At 1930I/5, the Fleet disengaged from the tanker group and set course at 20 knots to the operations area. Some ships of the Fleet train also started their return trip to Leyte.

The two battleships had not completed fully with fuel and the aircraft carriers had only been able to embark sufficient Avgas for the forthcoming two days of operation. Staying longer with the tanker group was not possible in order to be back at the time promised to the Americans.

6 April 1945.

At 0450I/6, four fighters were flown off from HMS Indomitable, two each to Miyako and Ishigaki airfields to attack any enemy aircraft taking off at dawn but early reports from these planes indicated little or no activity in the islands. Heavy low cloud over the islands impeded operations, but eight enemy aircraft not previously noticed at Ishigaki were attacked with apparent result.

At 0530I/6, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania with a CAP patrol were detached to act as picket to the north-westward.

At 0625I/6, CAP (Combat Air Patrol) and ASP (A/S Patrol) for the Fleet were flown off.

At 0635I/6, In position 23°16'N, 125°36'E CAPS were flown off to cover both islands. The craters in the runway at Miyako were observed to be filled in.

At 0650I/6, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania were ordered to rejoin the Fleet. No being required under the circumstances.

At 0850I/6, the Fleet was detected by an enemy aircraft who escaped in cloud cover.

Hellcats returning from Miyako in the forenoon shot down a Francies after a 30 mile chase.

Avengers bombed and hit Hirara runway and town, and bombed Nobara, Sukhama and Myara airstrips causing fires.

Fighters attacked radio and radar stations, sank two junks and blew up a bowser.

At about 1700I/6, bogeys were detected on the radar screen. Fighters intercepted them and splasged one Judy. One enemy aircraft out of an estimated raid of four broke through in cloud and later dived on HMS Illustrious, who took radical avoiding action. The suicider's wingtip hit the island, spinning the aircraft into the sea where the bomb exploded. Only slight damage and no casualties were caused. The ship probably hit the aircraft during her dive.

One Judy and another unidentified enemy plane flying low were engaged by destroyers one the screen. One being hit by gunfire. Corsairs and Hellcats closed the Judy and shot it down in flames after it had jettisoned its bomb. The other plane was seen in flames on the horizon about five minutes later and is considered to have been destroyed by the destroyers. A second Judy orbiting the Fleet at about 10 miles range was intercepted by Corsairs and Hellcats and splashed.

Unfortunately one Seafire was shot down by gunfire from the Fleet during the raid. The pilot was not recovered.

This raid was preceded by enemy jamming out fighter direction frequencies, its source appearing to be airborne. This disorganised the fighter defence to some extent, but pilots and fighter direction operators and had since become well drilled in shifting from jammed frequencies.

During the day our own losses were the one Seafire shot down by the Fleet, two Corsairs by bomb blast and one Avenger which crashed on taking off. Total enemy losses for the day were estimated as six aircraft destroyed and six damaged. Two junks were sunk.

After the dusk CAP had been flown on, the Fleet disengaged to the south-eastward.

7 April 1945.

A report was received that an enemy surface force had been sighted in the early hours leaving the Inland Sea and steering to the southward.

The plan for the day was to maintain a constant CAP over the enemy airfields during daylight bombing and straffing when targets offered. The weather at dawn was good and the clouds higher the yesterday.

At 0530I/7, HMS Argonaut and HMS Urania were detached to the north-westward to act as picket, with orders to rejoin at 0810I/7.

At 0610I/7, CAP's for the Fleet and Islands and ASP were flown off from position 23°16'N, 125°36'E. The Islands CAP's reported little activity on the islands, but noticed that bomb craters on Ishigaki had been filled in, abd that Hirara and Nobara airfields appeared serviceable. It was therefore decided to send in three bomber strikes during the day to recrater these fields. This was successfully carried out without loss.

In the afternoon HMS Urania escorted by two fighters was despatched to the rescue of a Corsair pilot who had lost his way and landed in the sea abbout 70 miles from the Fleet. An American Privateer having reported him dropped dinghies and remained in the vicinity until relieved by Fireflys. HMS Urania recovered the pilot but he was unfortunately found to be dead. The afternoon strike destroyed oneand damaged other aircraft found on the ground at Nobara.

Enemy search planes were again active early in the day making intelligent use of the 9/10 cloud cover they were not sighted by the fighters sent to intercept.

By the end of the day all runways in the islands were left well cratered and unserviceable. All visible aircraft had been attacked and there was no activity on any airfield.

During the day the enemy lost three aircraft destroyed on the ground and four were damaged. Four fishing vessels and three luggers were also claimed to have been damaged.

Own losses were two aircraft shot down by flak and four lost from other causes.

Task Force 57 then set course to refuel in area Cootie. This was an American area closer to our operating area that areas Midge or Mosquito. In the evening it was also leart that US aircraft of Task Force 58 had dealt with the Japanese surface force that had been reported proceeding towards Okinawa. Reports, indicated that the enemy lost one battleship, one cruiser and four destroyers and two more destroyers reported to be on fire.

American Task Force 52 was ordered to cover Sakishima during the absence of Task Force 57.

8 April 1945.

0600I/8, Task Force 57 made rendezvous with Task Unit 112.2.5 and Task Unit 112.2.1 in position Cootie One (21°12'N, 128°44'E), and commenced to refuel the fleet in excellent weather conditions. By dusk all ships except one battleship and one carrier had fuelled from the five tankers. The light cruiser HMCS Uganda (Capt. E.R. Mainguy, OBE, RCN) and the destroyers HMS Urchin (Lt.Cdr. A.F. Harkness, DSC, OBE, RD, RNR) and HMS Ursa (Cdr. D.B. Wyburd, DSC, RN) reinforce Task Force 57 as did the light cruiser HMNZS Gambia which returned from Leyte having towed the damaged destroyer HMS Ulster there.

As structural defects in HMS Illustrious were beginning to increase and her pilots were showing signs of operational fatigue, HMS Kempenfelt was detached a signal ordering HMS Formidable (Capt. P. Ruck-Keene, CBE, RN) from Leyte, to join the Fleet on the next occasion of fuelling. These structural defects in HMS Illustrious, the legacy of past underwater damage, were found on arrival in harbour to be rather more serious than had been thought. HMS Kempenfelt was routed to Leyte to act as additional escort to HMS Formidable.

9 April 1945.

At 0630I/9, Task Force 57 recommenced fuelling, which was completed by 1500I/9. HMS Undaunted from Leyte rejoined Task Unit 112.2.5 and HMS Whirlwind joined Task Force 57 from Task Unit 112.2.5. HMS Whelp, which had a defective Asdic dome was ordered to proceed to Leyte.

1315I/9, HMS Swiftsure, HMNZS Gambia and HMCS Uganda carried out independent exercises until 1615I/9.

At 1530I/9, Task Force 57 proceeded, setting course to carry out final air strikes on Sakishima on 10 and 11 April. It was intended to proceed to Leyte afterwards.

However shortly afterwards signals were received that the Americans would continue to deal with Sakishima Gunto and that Task Force 57 was to attack airfield in northern Formosa.

10 April 1945.

The Fleet was getting into position to launch strikes against Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields on Formosa on the forenoons of 11th and 12th April from approximate position Samson (196° 30 miles from western tip of Yonaguni Jima flying off at 0700I each day. Then to withdraw to replanish area Cootie for replenishment on 13 April and arrive at Leyte about 16 April.

11 April 1945.

At 0600I/11, Task Force 57 arrived in flying-off position 30 miles 202° from Yonaguni Shima. There was a fresh north-north-east wind and a moderate sea and short swell. Cloud base was about 1000 feet with intermittent rain and drizzle.

Course was reversed and in daylight it was seen apparent that conditions were unlikely to improve in the flying area during the day while weather reports showed that conditions over Natsuyama precluded any hope of attack. It was considered that a small fighter sweep coasting round north Formosa might find Shinchiku, but that their return journey would be a considerable gamble and surprise lost. Conditions were most unsuitable also for air sea rescue. Operations were accordingly postponed 24 hours and the Fleet continued to the south-eastward.

Early in the evening all Task Group commanders were informed by signal that heavy enemy air attacks were to be expected the following day.

Course was reversed during the night so as to be in the flying off position at dawn. Task Force 58 reported being under heavy air attack all afternoon, with the enemy showing a preference to commit suicide by crashing on the decks of radar pickets.

12 April 1945.

The weather had improved considerable during the night.

Enemy reconnaissance aircraft possibly detected the Fleet at 0555I/12 and soon afterwards enemy air activity was detected to the northward. CAP was flown off at 0615I/12 and at 0704 Seafires had an inconclusive encounter with four eastbound Zeke's, one of which was shot down.

The main strikes, each of 24 bombers and 20 fighters were flown off at 0715I/12 from position 23°58'N, 122°46'E and proceeded in company around the coast.

Cloud prevented the strikes going over the mountains. One strike bombed Shinchiku airfields with delay fuzed bombs and attacked dispersals. There was flak but no airborne opposition. Due to cloud conditions over Matsuyama airfield the other strike attacked their alternative target, Kiirun harbour where hits were observed on the chemical plant, dock area and shipping.

One flight investigated Matsuama and found little activity. A rearby railway station and factory were attacked. A bridge over the river south of Matsuama was destroyed and shipping at Tansui shot up.

Two Fireflies which had been sent to rendezvous with Dumbo aircraft at Yonaguni Shima shot down four out of five eastbound Sonias (Mitsubishi Ki-51) and damaged the remaining one at 0920I/12. As these aircraft had not been detected by radar, fighters were thereafter maintained over the island.

Corsairs attacked aircraft which had force landed on Yonagumi Shimi and set fire to a Sally (Mitsubishi Ki-21).

At 1135I/12, a shadowing Dinah (Mitsubishi Ki-46), was chased by Corsairs, which, after releasing their drop tanks, caught and destroyed it.

At 1410I/12, another Dinah escorted by two Oscars (Nakajima Ki-43) escaped from the CAP fighters in a cloud.

At 1430I/12, Hellcats to the north-westward of the Fleet shot down a Zeke.

In the evening the enemy made a sortie from Ishigaki, which was intercepted by fighters, no enemy getting within sight of the Fleet. Hellcats spalshed four Oscars and two Tomies and damaged two more. Corsairs splashed a Val (Aichi D3A) and one Oscar. They also damaged an Oscar. One Hellcat was badly damaged in the engagement the pilot being killed when making a forced landing.

During the day, except for the evening sortie and one shadower, all enemy air traffic appeared to have been between Formosa and Sakishima. Fighter direction of our fighters during the day was well carried out, and some excellend interceptions were made. The score for the day was 17 enemy aircraft destroyer, 16 of which were airborne and 1 on the ground. Two more aircraft were probably destroyed. Two enemy aircraft were claimed to have been damaged. Own losses were 4 aircraft.

After dark an enemy plane carried out an unsuccessful box search for the Fleet which had disengaged to the south-eastward for the night.

It was clear that from signals received that the enemy were engaging in very heavy air attacks on American forces in the Okinawa area, and that Formosa based planes were taking part. Vice-Admiral Rawlings came to the conclusion during the evening that Task Force 57 was to remain operating in this area for a further period, even if they could do little more than occasionally strike at the Sakishima Gunto Task Force 57 should anyhow provide an alternative target to take some of the weight. Rear-Admiral Vian, by himself, had meanwhile come to the same conclusion, and he informed Vice-Admiral Rawlings accordingly. The US Commander of the 5th Fleet was informed of the decision by signal.

13 April 1945.

At 0550I/13, four fighters were flown off. A bogey originally detected at 0540I/13 developed into an ineffective raid by four Vals accomanied by a radar fitted search plane probably performing the dual role of pilot plane and 'Gestapo'. One Val dive bombed, but missed, HMS Indomitable. This aricraft switched on navigation lights and fired an incorrect recognition cartridge. It was engaged but probably not hit. A second Val was shot down by gunfire from the Fleet. Unfortunately gunfire also shot down one Hellcat which failed to clear the Fleet during the attack, and the pilot was killed.

At 0615I/13, the proper CAP was flown off in position 23°58'N, 122°46'E.

At 0640I/13, a small group of bogeys was intercepted 25 miles to the north-west of the Fleet. Two Zekes were splashed by Corsairs and the remainder retired to the northward.

At 0645I/13, Avenger strikes were flown off to attack Matsuyama and Shinchiku airfields on Formosa. The weather over Matsutyama was fair, runways, barracks and dispersal points were successfully bombad and a petrol or ammunition dump was blown up. Few aircraft were seen on the airfield.

The other Avenger force bombed Shinchiku airfield through low cloud, hitting the runway intersections and installations. No aircraft were lost in either of these strikes and there was no airborne opposition.

Fireflies attacked the suspected radar station on Yonakuni Shima with rockets and apparently destroyed it. When relieved, they also shot up luggers and small craft in the harbour close to Iriizaki.

After these bomber strikes were flown on, Task Force 57 disengaged to the south-eastward to refuel.

1300I/13, Hellcats intercepted 3 Zekes about 40 miles north of the Fleet, and Corsairs intercepted a Dinah escorted by Tojo's (Nakajima Ki-44). All the enemy aircraft escaped in the clouds.

Enemy losses were thought to be 8 aircraft destroyed and 1 probably damaged. 1 of our own aircraft was lost in combat.

A signal was received thanking the British for their initiative to stay in the area longer and they were ordered to cover Sakishima on 16 and 17 April unless otherwise directed prior to that time.

14 April 1945.

At 0630I/14, Task Force 57 made contact with task Unit 112.2.5 and the tanker group (five tankers) in position Cootie One (21°12'N, 128°44'E).

The aircraft carrier HMS Formidable and the destroyers HMS Kempenfelt and HMS Wessex (Lt.Cdr. R. Horncastle, RN) joined Task Force 57.

Fuelling was commenced in fine weather and proceeded with less delays then usual.

HMS Illustrious was sailed for Leyte at 1755I/14 escorted by HMS Urania and HMS Quality.

The Fleet disengaged from the tanker force for the night.

15 April 1945.

The Fleet joined the tanker group, now consisting of three tankers, fuelling and general replenishing was completed by 1400I/15 when Task Force 57 disengaged and took departure to cover the Sakishima area again. No supply of new aircraft were available during this replenishment period.

16 April 1945.

No picket cruiser was stationed owing to the shortage of fighter aircraft.

0600I/16, the CAP was flown off in position 23°28'N, 125°18'E, 17 minutes before sunrise and in excellent operating weather.

At 0622I/16, an enemy snooper at 20000 feet escaped before the CAP had time to gain height.

At 0630I/16, the first strike took off to attack Ishigaki aircfields. This attack, and a further one flow off at 1230I/16, left all the runways unserviceable.

At 0930I/16, the second strike took off to attack Miyako airfields where previous craters were found to be filled in and every endeavour had been made to keep the airfields serviceable. This attack, together with another flow off at 1533I/16, left all Miyako airfields out of action.

CAP's were left over both islands during the day. Rocket firing Fireflies staffed a radar station at Miyako and ground installations, barracks and grounded aircraft generally were straffed. These was no airborn opposition over the targets and flack was moderate.

At 0700I/16, bad height estimation was the cause of failure to interceot a bogey which crossed ahead of the Fleet from east to west.

At 1441I/16, two divisions of fighters staggered in height and range get close to an erratic and fast moving bogey but were unable to find any target. More fast moving bogeys were reported during the afternoon. These were thought to be flying bombs launched too far away from the Fleet and exhausting their fuel before reaching the Fleet.

At 1722I/16, Hellcats shot down a Myrt (Nakajima C6N) which was apparently stalking an American Privateer search plane.

A Seafire landing on HMS Indefatigable bounced, cleared the barriers and crashed. The pilot was unhurt but the plane wrecked an Avenger, damaged a Firefly, and knocked two ratings over the side. HMAS Quiberon picked up one but the other was unfortunately not recovered.

In spite of having received no replenishment aircraft since April 9th, and the lack of fighters consequently felt, Rear-Admiral Vian, considered a sixth opertional period possible, if confined to one day of operations. He informed Vice-Admiral Rawlings accordingly.

As the Americans were still under heavy air attacks in the Okinawa area Vice-Admiral Rawlings reported this to the Commander 5th Fleet.

17 April 1945.

At 0600I/17, the CAP was flown off from position 23°34'N, 125°38'E.

In view if the apparent success of yesterday's neutralisation, the number of bombers in the main strikes was reduced, the first strike taking off at 0630I/17. First reports showed that considerable effort had been made to fill in the runway craters at Miyako but none at Ishigaki. Consequently no bombing strike was sent to Ishigaki. Of the three strikes sent to Miyako, the first two left all airfields unservicable and the third attacked municipal buildings and barracks.

In the last attack an Avenger was shot down and one of the crew succeeded in baling out and alighted on the water 1.5 miles from Hirara Town. A Walrus was quickly flow off and rescued the airman, whilst a fighter escort kept down fire which was opened from the town.

CAP's were maintained over both islands, but reported no activity on any airfield, all of which remained unservicable at the end of the day. No operational aircraft could be found on the ground.

At 0609I/17, a few bogeys were detected to the north-west of the Fleet. Fighters sent to investigate splashed one Zeke.

At 1627I/17, bogeys were detected 110 miles west of the Fleet. Fighters intercepted at 55 miles and two out of six Zeke's were shot down. The others escaped into the clouds.

At 1750I/17, close range weapons in HMS King George V suddenly opened fire on what appeared to be a blazing aircraft diving virtically on the ship. It turned out to be a drop tank from a Corsair overhead.

During the day three airborne enemy aircraft were destroyed and several small ship were claimed to have been damaged. One own aircraft was lost in combat.

At 1915I/17, Task Force 57 withdrew to fuel in area Mosquito. It was intended to return to the operations area for on more day, April 20th.

18 April 1945.

At 0630I/18, commenced fuelling in area Mosquito from the tanker group, now made up of five tankers. Four additional destroyers were also with them, HMAS Napier (Capt. H.J. Buchanan, DSO, RAN), HMAS Nepal (Lt.Cdr. C.J. Stephenson, RAN), HMAS Norman (Cdr. J. Plunkett-Cole, RAN) and HMS Undaunted.

Mails, stores and correspondence were transferred but no replenishment aircraft were available. Owing to the extention of operation programme none had been expected.

By dusk the Fleet had completed fuelling and disengaged from the tanker group for the night. Three of the five tankers then set course to return to Leyte escorted by HMS Pheasant.

19 April 1945.

At 0730I/19, the Fleet rejoined the remaining two tankers and the destroyers were then topped off with fuel. This second day in the replenishing area was necessary in order to rest aircrews and for maintenance work on aircraft.

At 1300I/19, the Fleet disengaged and took departure for the Sakishima area, leaving two tankers, HMS Speaker, HMS Kempenfelt, HMS Woodcock and HMS Findhorn in the fuelling area with orders to proceed to Leyte at dawn on 21 April.

20 April 1945.

At 0555I/20, the CAP was flown off in position 23°33'N, 125°02'E. The plan for the day followed generally the pattern of previous strikes, namely to crater the runways on all Myako and Ishigaki airfields and to maintain a CAP over them to prevent repair work, destroying any enemy airborne, and to strafe any grounded planes. In addition two strikes by rocket firing Fireflies were ordered to attack coastal shipping and ground installations.

Four bomber strikes were sent in, and found that most craters had been filled in on runways at both islands. By the end of the day all airfield runways on both islands were left unserviceable, with the exception of these at Hirara (Miyako) which were only partially cratered.

There was no enemy airborne opposition over the islands and none came near the Fleet. The several bogeys detected during the day were all found to be friendly search planes when intercepted. A lugger and some junks were rocketed and left burning, as were a possible radar station and barracks.

One Avenger reported ditching 10 miles south of Ishigaki. The position was searched all the afternoon and evening without success, but the survivors were fortunately rescued the following afternoon by a US seaplane.

One enemy aircraft was damaged on the ground and one own aircraft was lost.

At 1910I/20, Task Force 57 set course for Leyte having completed 12 strike days out of 26 days bwtween first and last strikes.

21 April 1945.

At 0650I/21, HMS Crane was met who had sailed from Leyte to bring out to the Fleet a slightly overdue airmail. She also brought out Commodore Evans-Lombe, Chief Staff officer to the C-in-C, British Pacific Fleet. He was transferred to HMS King George V. HMS Crane was then despatched to overtake the tanker group who were on their way to Leyte, to relieve HMS Kempenfelt who was ordered to proceed at best speed to Leyte.

It was decided that every destroyer was to boiler clear at Leyte and that the battleships and cruisers were to assist them doing so.

22 April 1945.

At 2000I/22, HMS Euryalus, HMNZS Gambia and HMCS Uganda were ordered to proceed ahead of the Fleet to Leyte.

23 April 1945.

At 0700I/23, the Fleet was formed into two groups for proceeding up Leyte Gulf. They were brought to anchor around 1245I/23 in San Pedro Bay. (1)

Sources

  1. ADM 234/368

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


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