Saturday, 15 October 2016

War is over, for some.

HMS INDOMITABLE            12th AUGUST 45    to    30th SEPTEMBER 45
Indomitable was an aircraft carrier built by Vickers Armstrong in Barrow in Furness. She was supposed to be the fourth of the ‘Invincible Class’ but she was heightened by 14’ to fit in another hanger deck. The flight deck was also lengthened. This along with other changes allowed her to carry 56 planes. She retained the 3” armour plate on the flight deck. She was launched 26-Mar-40 and completed and commissioned 10-Oct-41. She was 754’ (230m) long. 95.5’ (29.2m) beam and 29’ (8.8m) depth. She was driven by Parsons geared steam turbines supplied with steam by 6 boilers and turning three shafts and propellers with 111000 shaft horse power. This gave her a speed of 30.5kts. She had a complement of 1392 that was increased to 2100.
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HMS Indomitable 21-Nov-41. Norfolk ship yard USA for repair.

She was well armed by the end of the war with 16 x 4.5”, 48 x 2lb’ers, 36 x 20mm and various other calibre anti aircraft guns. During the final stage of the war she had American Hellcat and Avenger aircraft squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm aboard.

Dad had seen her during Operation Ironclad, the invasion of Madagascar, and Operation Pedestal, the resupply of Malta (The Ohio convoy). During this operation she was hit by bombs with several near misses. Although still operational she was sent to the USA for repair. On completion she was back in company with Dad at Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. How ever she was bombed and torpedoed and again withdrew to the USA for repair.

Following this she was moved to the Eastern Fleet and based in Sri Lanka. After the end of the war in Europe, for political reasons, Britain was keen to participate in the war against Japan. The Americans were a bit resentful, as by now they were the senior partner in the Allies and most definitely in the Pacific. There was friction in the US Navy too as some felt that they had done the hard miles all but alone and now Britain was trying to get in at the kill. However it was agreed that the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) would be created early in 1944. After several years of hard fighting Britain was not able to supply all the ships required herself so heavy demands was placed on the Empire and other Allies to help. Australia was engaged in heavily supporting the American effort and again much effort was expended to convince them to supply bases and logistics to support the BPF. A further problem was that British equipment was not largely equivalent to US standards and as the US Navy were pretty well stretched with their supply lines anyway the BFP had to ensure they could supply their own equipment using their own ships. In the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Indian Ocean the British Navy had utilised bases for resupply. The distances involved in the Pacific meant that this was not practical so the Fleet Train came into being. Around fifty merchant Navy ships were able to keep the Navy supplied with all they required through out the remainder of the war.

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HMS Indomitable leaving Captain Cook Drydock Sydney 18th July 1945.

Eventually the BPF was taken under control of Admiral Nimitz as Task force 57. Their first task was Operation Iceberg, the landings on Okinawa, which began 26th March 1945. Here the Indomitable’s aircraft attacked airbases on the islands in the chain, shipping, and provided airborne cover for the fleet of vessels. During this operation many kamikaze attacks occurred and most of the larger ships were hit at least once. The American carriers were rendered useless following a successful attack as they had wooden flight decks. With their armoured flight decks the British carriers, although hit, never had to leave the line and were ready for flight operations with in three hours. They were directed to attack Japanese bases on Formosa (Taiwan) to try to stem the flow of attacks and these raids were very successful. During Operation Iceberg the BPF had been on operations for 32 days which had been the longest continuous period on operations since the days of sail. Indomitable was hit three times by kamikaze attacks. One crashed on the deck at a shallow angle and luckily slid right over the side. Indomitable was also involved in a collision with destroyer HMS Quilliam in fog. Quilliam was quite badly damaged and took no further part in the war. In June Indomitable was replaced by Implacable and sailed to Sydney to make good repairs. The effort of the BPF at Okinawa had won the respect of the US Navy and if the invasion of Japan had taken place a greater understanding between the fleets would have been guaranteed. As it was they had overcome the difficulties of different codes, methods, tactics etc to become an effective unit of the US 5th Fleet.

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HMS Indomitable following kamikaze attack 1st April 1945 off Okinawa. The vessel was back in action in 1 hour. (Identification may indicate that this was actually HMS Formidable).


Indomitable was relieved by HMS Implacable in June and returned to Sydney for repairs. On completion she remained in Sydney through out as the plans for the invasion of the Japanese mainland were finalised. Dad joined Indomitable six days after the ‘Little Boy’ atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima on 6th August, and only three days after the ‘Fat Man’ bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki on 9th August. On 15th August the Emperor of Japan made a broadcast announcing the unconditional surrender of Japan. The same day the American control of the Indomitable and other members of the task force were relinquished and passed back to Britain.  She immediately sailed to Subic Bay in the Philippines along with aircraft carrier Venerable, cruisers Euryalus and Swiftsure and 3 destroyers. Other ships were arriving and plans were being drawn up for the re-occupation of Hong Kong

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