- William F. Cook, MVO, Captain, RAN (Rtd)
- WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1995 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Those of us who were serving in the armed forces will remember the enormous sense of relief and sheer joy occasioned by the news of the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.
After six years of war, five of which were served in seagoing ships of the R.A.N., the excitement for me was almost overwhelming. Perhaps readers may recapture the feeling in the British Pacific Fleet, working as a unit of the United States Third Fleet, as expressed in the following selection of signals passed between Admiral Halsey USN COM 3rd Fleet, Sir Bruce Fraser, C in C BPF, Vice Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings 2 I/C BPF Vice Admiral Sir Phillip Vian, Flag Officer Aircraft Carriers BPF, in those momentous days in late August and early September 1945.
The fleets were engaged in carrying out air strikes against targets on the Japanese mainland and although the news, early in the morning of 12 August that agreement as to the terms of the surrender had been reached, meant in effect, the end of the war, it was prudently decided to continue the air strikes until such time as Japanese capitulation was certain. Strikes continued until August 15 when we received the signal “Cease Hostilities with Japan – Splice the mainbrace”. As we hoisted that flag signal there was a “Flash Red” and a Kamikaze was shot down overhead and fell close to the Carrier which we were ‘covering’ as anti-Kamikaze (AKK) destroyer.
The signals are roughly in chronological order. The names of Commanders are as follows:
> Commander 3rd Fleet – Admiral Halsey USN.
> Commander Task Force 37 – Vice Admiral Rawlings RN (2nd in Command BPF)
> CTG 38.5 – Vice Admiral Rawlings RN (When T.F 37 was divided)
> Commander BPF – Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser R.N.
TASK FORCE 37
FROM COMMANDER TASK FORCE 38
FOLLOWING RECEIVED BEGINS.
ON THE OCCASION OF PARTING WITH SOME UNITS OF TASK FORCE 37 I WANT ALL HANDS IN YOUR OUTFIT TO KNOW THAT DURING THE PAST MONTH THE FINE CO-OPERATIVE ATTITUDE AND FIGHTING SPIRIT OF THE BRITISH FORCE HAS MADE AS MANY FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS AS THERE ARE OFFICERS AND MEN IN THE AMERICAN SECTION OF THE TEAM.
HALSEY – COMMANDER 3RD FLEET
ACTION C T F 37 FROM COMM 3RD FLEET D T G 111331 ENDS
TO OUR FIGHTING MEN OF THE BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET
WE KNEW OF YOU AND YOUR FIGHTING QUALITIES AND EXPECTED GREAT THINGS FROM YOU. THIS HAS BEEN MORE THAN FULFILLED. IN THE SHORT TIME IN WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN WITH US I AM VERY PROUD TO HAVE YOU UNDER MY COMMAND, YOUR WAY OF FALLING INTO OUR SCHEMES OF MANOEUVRING IS LITTLE SHORT OF REMARKABLE. WE BECAME A SINGLE FIGHTING TEAM. TO THOSE WHO HAVE SUFFERED INJURIES AND ARE PERMANENTLY MAIMED I THANK GOD YOU HAVE BEEN SPARED FOR FURTHER USE. TO THOSE OF OUR BROTHERS WHO HAVE PAID THE SUPREME SACRIFICE, HAIL, REST WITH GOD, YOUR NAMES AND YOUR DEEDS (PORTION MISSED) TO ALL OF YOU BELONGS CREDIT AND I SHALL DO ALL IN MY POWER TO SEE THAT YOU RECEIVE IT. AGAIN AND AGAIN
GOD BLESS YOU
TO: C T G 37.1 (R) ALL SHIPS
FROM: C T F 37
ON PARTING COMPANY I CAN SPEAK FOR THE WHOLE FLEET IN SAYING HOW MUCH WE HAVE ADMIRED THE GALLANTRY AND PERSISTENCE OF THE AIR CREWS AND THE STOUT HEARTED WORK OF THE CARRIERS
2. YOU HAVE WRITTEN A NEW CHAPTER IN NAVAL FLYING, WHICH HAS BEEN REWARDED BY HELPING TO WRITE FINISH TO JAPAN AND HER FLEET.
3. NOT LESS VALUABLE FOR OUR FUTURE ARE THE LINKS YOU HAVE HELPED TO FORGE BETWEEN US AND THE UNITED STATES FLEETS
// T.O.R. 0332Z
TO: TASK GROUP 38.5
FROM: COMMANDER TASK GROUP 38.5
WHILE THE ARMISTICE MAY STILL BE A FEW DAYS AWAY, TODAY AUGUST 12TH SEES THE END OF THE BRITISH TASK FORCE AS WE KNEW IT.
2. I HAVE NO HESITATION IN SAYING THAT IT HAS WRITTEN A MEMORABLE PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE BRITISH NAVY.
3. THE TIME IS COMING WHEN MANY OF YOU WILL BE RETURNING TO SHORE LIFE BUT BOTH TO THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO REMAIN IN THE SERVICE I WOULD SAY TWO THINGS. FIRSTLY, THAT YOU CARRY WITH YOU THROUGHOUT LIFE A FEELING OF PRIDE IN WHAT YOU HAVE DONE OUT HERE AND THE SECOND, THAT YOU WILL REALIZE WE ARE PROFOUNDLY GRATEFUL TO YOU ALL.