- Rischbieth, H.G., Surgeon-Lieutenant, RAN
- Biographies and personal histories, History - WW2
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Warramunga I, HMAS Shropshire
- June 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Henry George Rischbieth, second son of Harold and Eileen Rischbieth (nee de la Poer Beresford) served in the Royal Australian Navy as a Surgeon Lieutenant during World War II. He was serving in the destroyer HMAS Warramunga at the time of the Japanese surrender in August/September 1945.
According to the official history Royal Australian Navy 1942 – 1945 by G. Hermon Gill (Australian War Memorial, 1968), Warramunga was part of the Australian Naval Squadron, T.F. 74.1 under Commodore Collins in HMAS Shropshire. The squadron was in Subic Bay in the Philippines when they received news of the Japanese surrender on 15 August.
On 17 August, the War Cabinet, meeting in Canberra expressed the desire that Australia should take part in the occupation of Japan and proposed that Task Force T.F. 74.1 be made available for this.
On the morning of 30 August HMA Ships Shropshire, Hobart, Bataan and Warrramunga – now designated TG 70.9 – arrived off Oshima. The task group had left Subic Bay on 17 August and proceeded via Manila and Okinawa. It entered Tokyo Bay and anchored in assigned berths at noon on 31 August.
Tokyo Bay: Saturday 1 September 1945
I am now one of the very few Australians who has been ashore in Tokyo during the War and the number who sailed in with the squadron and have now been ashore is, I think, not more than a dozen or possibly, yes I think 13. Of those, I was the eighth to step ashore. I must admit it took a bit of wangling, but I must have learned it from Mum, I think, and it stood me in good stead.
I little thought when I wrote last night that I would have anything more to write about today – I have though, and as well as I can I will tell you of the day’s happenings.
This morning of September 1st was another drizzly and not very attractive morning when HMAS Warramunga was detailed to pick up Commodore Collins and take him in to Yokohama.
The Commodore came aboard from HMAS Shropshire with his flag-lieutenant and the squadron Press Relations Officer, and we moved slowly in towards the port of Yokohama, dropping anchor a mile or so from the outer breakwater.
Our boat was lowered and the Commodore and his party left to call on General Hodges in the General Sturgess, the headquarters ship lying against the pier in the inner harbour.
While the party was away, we had the opportunity of examining the great port at our leisure. It lies on Tokyo Bay, some 20 miles from Tokyo itself, and is its main seaport.
The port consists of an inner and outer harbour, each enclosed by a long stone or concrete breakwater, except for a narrow entrance in the centre, flanked on either side by tall gaunt houses of rather quaint design, that on the starboard side being painted red and on the port side going in, white. Beyond the outer harbour lies the bay itself, so you can see that the actual port is very well protected; it is if at the outer harbour another concentric breakwater had been built half a mile or so beyond the present one.
The seaward end of the city does not seem to have been damaged, but as it stretches towards Tokyo, the industrial portion has obviously received a most devastating punishment and gaunt blackened chimneys tower above burnt-out shells of one-time factories; in one part we could see a fire still burning.
Shortly before lunch, the Commodore returned, bringing with him the First Member of the Australian Navy Board, Rear Admiral G.D. Moore, who had flown from Australia to be present at the surrender ceremony on board USS Missouri tomorrow and who was aboard the General Sturgess.
After lunch, our boat took Admiral Moore ashore again and I was fortunate to go in her. Unfortunately the weather still had not cleared and so we had to wear waterproofs, but I don’t think we would have cared much if it had been hailing or snowing instead of merely drizzling. We were some of the 12, or I think 13 members of the Australian squadron who could say that they had been ashore in Japan before the surrender was signed. But I am getting rather ahead of myself.