EXTRACT TAKEN FROM THE REPORT TO THE NEW ZEALAND GOVERNMENT BY THE NEW ZEALAND NAVAL BOARD 1ST APRIL 1945 TO 31ST MARCH 1946.
1. The Navy Department is controlled by the New Zealand Naval Board, set up in terms of the Naval Defence Amendment Act 1936. The New Zealand Naval Board consist of:
a The Minister of the Defence (Chairman of the Board)
b. A Captain Royal Navy with the rank of Commodore (as First Naval Member and Chief of Naval Staff
c. A Commander, Royal Navy, with the acting rank of Captain (as Second Naval Member)
d. A Commander (S), Royal Navy, with the acting rank of Captain (S) (as Naval Secretary and Member)
2. The Naval Board implements its instructions through Navy Office, Wellington which directs the administration of the Royal New Zealand Navy.
3. The staff of Navy Department prior to the outbreak of hostilities was comparatively small, but the organization was so devised that it was capable of expanding along the lines of its peacetime organization. Many new problems were faced, brought about by the very considerable increase in administrative responsibilities, but in every instance satisfactory solutions were found. All branches of the Department functioned efficiently and successfully and the staff at all times gave of their best in an ungrudging manner.
4. On the 13th July, 1945 Commodore G.H. Faulkner DSC assumed duties as First Naval Member of the New Zealand Naval Board and Chief of Naval Staff, in succession to Commodore Sir Atwell Lake, Bart, CB, OBE.
5. On 1st April 1945 the Royal New Zealand Navy consisted of HMNZ Ships ACHILLES, GAMBIA, ARABIS, ARBUTUS and HMNZ minesweepers and auxiliary craft, in addition shore and training establishments were in operation consisting: HMNZS PHILOMEL and HMNZS TAMAKI at Auckland. HMNZS COOK at Wellington (then RNZAF Shelley Bay) HMMZS TASMAN at Lyttleton Naval W/T Station Waiouru and Navy Office, Dunedin.
6. Units of the Royal New Zealand Navy, comprising the 25th A/S M/S Flotilla and twelve Fairmile launches, continued to operate under the command of Commander South Pacific Area until July 1945, when they were released and returned to Auckland under the control of the New Zealand Naval Board for refit and disposal, with the exception of HMNZS ARBUTUS which from June 1945 until October 1945, served under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, British Pacific Fleet.
Section II. PROCEEDINGS OF CRUSIERS OF THE ROYAL NEW ZEALAND NAVY
1. In April 1945 GAMBIA was replenishing in Leyte Gulf, where on 28th, Captain RAB Edwards CBE, RN relieved Captain NJW William-Powlett, DSC, RN in Command.
2. On 1st May GAMBIA sailed with Task Force 57 to continue operations against Sakishima Gunto. On 4th, GAMBIA in company with HMS SWIFTSURE carried out a simultaneous bombardment on Nobara Airfield with air co-operation for spotting. A successful bombardment was reported. Air strikes were continued against Sakishima Gunto until 25th May, when after refueling, Task Force 57 set course for Manus.
3. From 1st to 4th June, GAMBIA was on passage from Manus to Sydney, where she remained until 28th storing and replenishing apart from two day at sea carrying out gunnery exercises.
4. On 28th June the Rear Admiral commanding Fourth Cruiser Squadron, Rear Admiral EJP Brind, CBE and a skeleton staff embarked and GAMBIA proceeded in company with the British Pacific Fleet for Manus. Rear Admiral Brind and staff were transferred to HMS NEWFOUNDLAND on 30th June.
5. After fuelling at Manus, GAMBIA forming part of Task Force 37.1 sailed on 6 July for the current operations against Japan. Air strikes were carried out against Northern Honshu and Southern Honshu.
6. Rear Admiral RM Servaes, CBE commanding the Second Cruiser Squadron and two of his staff officers joined GAMBIA temporarily to gain experience of fleet operations in the combat area. GAMBIA later rejoined Task Force 37, and the whole force carried out more air strikes against South Honshu on 28th and 30th July. During the month of July, GAMBIA spent thirty days at sea and steamed 10,561 miles.
7. On 9th August, GAMBIA was detached from Task Unit 37.31.8 under the control of the Rear Admiral commanding Fourth Cruiser Squadron to carry out a bombardment of Kamaishi. Reports suggested that the bombardment was most successful. During the retirement the force was attached by Japanese aircraft, which was engaged by GAMBIA. This, as far as is known, was the last aircraft to be engaged by British Fleet gunfire during the war. It was ultimately reported as being brought down.
8. Further air strikes carried out over Northern Honshu until, on 15th August, Command Task Force made a signal, “Cease Hostilities against Japan”.
9. While the signal was still flying. Spitfires were overhead engaging a Japanese aircraft. The latter dropped a bomb, which fell, in the sea between HMS INDEFATIGABLE and GAMBIA. The enemy aircraft was shot down by the Spitfires, a part of it falling on board GAMBIA. No further enemy air attacks were made, but several snoopers were shot down by patrolling aircraft out of sight of the fleet, which retired to await events.
10. In the forenoon of 20th August a Royal Marine detachment under the command of Captain Blake, RM and two platoons of seaman with company headquarters under the command of Lieutenant Commander Davis-Goff, RNZN were disembarked from GAMBIA into two United States destroyer transports in readiness to land in Tokyo Bay. They were reported to be the first ashore on Japanese soil.
11. On 23rd August the Fleet formed into Task Groups for entry into Sugami Wan. GAMBIA in company with HM Ships KING GEORGE V, NEWFOUNDLAND, NAPIER and NIZAM formed Task Group 37. It was, however not until 27th August that the ships entered Sugami Wan. Hands went to general quarters ready for any treacherous move on the part of the Japanese, and battle ensigns were flown, but the entry was without incident. Subsequently, the Commander-in-Chief British Pacific Fleet, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser GCB, KBE paid an informal visit to GAMBIA and addressed the ship’s company.
12. GAMBIA was in Tokyo Bay during the signing of the instrument of surrender, and remained their until 12th September, when she proceeded to Kii Suido, where she was employed until 19th assisting United States Forces with the embarkation and recovered Allied military personnel. While here a very severe typhoon was experienced.
13. On 11th October GAMBIA departed from Tokyo Bay for Manus and onward routeing for Sydney and Auckland where she arrived on 31st October.
14. On 8th February 1946, GAMBIA reduced to one-fifth complement and re-commissioned with steaming party. From this date she ceased to be attached to the British Pacific Fleet.
15. On 12th February, GAMBIA departed from Auckland for Sydney and the United Kingdom for reversion to the Royal Navy.
Section V. HMNZS PHILOMEL
Change of Command – Consequent on the cessation of hostilities and a reduction in naval activities in the Auckland District, Commodore WKD Dowding, DSC was relieved for reversion to the Royal Navy, and Captain DA Bingley OBE, RN combined the duties of Naval Officer in Charge, Auckland and Captain Superintendent of the Dockyard. It was then necessary to transfer the naval staff from Mechanics Bay to offices in the Naval Base. This change took effect 7th January 1946.
Closing of Out-stations – The following out-stations in the Auckland District were closed down on cessation of hostilities: Naval transit camp, Purewa W/T Station, Post-war signal station and Cape Brett Signal Station, and all radar stations.
Training – Training of stoker, W/T, V/S and gunnery ratings, has proceeded steadily throughout the year, the number of failures in qualifying examinations being very low.
Section VI. Other Naval Activities
Naval W/T Station, Waiouru – From the date of its commencement of operation in August 1943, until the cessation of hostilities the Naval W/T Station at Waiouru handled the following approximate number of groups; out 9,486,000: in 7,905,000. A high-powered broadcast of important administrative traffic to the British Pacific Fleet was arranged at very short notice in June 1945; and operated until after the arrival of ‘J’ Force, when it finally closed down. Ships of the British Pacific Fleet reported good reception strength at all times when off the Japanese coast (at a distance of 6,000 miles from Waiouru). During the period of Japan’s capitulation, Waiouru became the direct W/T link between Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser in HMS DUKE OF YORK and the Admiralty and handled with precision most of the high-priority secret signal traffic in connection with the signing of the surrender terms, as well as a considerable quantity of the same subject from Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia.
Port War Signal Station – This station was closed down shortly after VJ Day. While requirements for the examination battery ceased at the same time.
Naval Wireless Station – Operation has now been reduced to maintaining a limited routine signal messages from Waiouru and supplying the inter-island steamer express vessels with their positions as supplied by the Army radar unit.
HMNZS TASMAN – TASMAN has been used as a signal and cookery training establishment until recently but is now reduced to a demobilization center for South Island personnel, pending its conversion to a Torpedo, A/S and Signal Training School.
Post War Signal Station Taiaroa Heads – This station has been closed down and the building have been returned to the Otago Harbour Board.
Section IX. WOMEN’S ROYAL NEW ZEALLAND NAVAL SERVICE
1. Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service numbers rose to 518 ratings in July 1945, with 20 officers in August 1945. Owing to demobilization and discharges for marriage and compassionate grounds, the strength of the Women’s Royal New Zealand Naval Service as at 31 March 1946 was 12 officers and 297 ratings and as WRNZNS personnel are in the process of being totally demobilized, no entries were approved after VE Day.
2. Members of the WRNZNS have been mostly employed on demobilization work in Navy Office and establishments as they became available for duties no longer required after the cessation of hostilities. Thus the main category now needed is that of writer, with cooks and stewards and communications branch forming the balance.
3. In response to a questionnaire to WRNZNS personnel asking for volunteers to serve a further period of 6 months, 38 percent expressed themselves willing to continue in the service, but marriage and compassionate releases have since somewhat reduced that figure.