“On this day in history” Japanese soldiers finally surrender, 1951.

“On this day in history” 30 June 1951, a group of stranded Japanese soldiers who refuse to believe World War II ended in 1945, surrender to Lt. Cmdr. James B. Johnson, USS Cocopa (ATF 101) on Anatahan Island in the northern Marianas.

121

Japanese assemble on the beach at Anatahan Island under a white flag.

5

USS Cocopa dispatches landing party.

6

Approaching the island.

18

The formal surrender.

21

Handing over weapons.

25

Returning to USS Cocopa with the Japanese.

30

Surrendered Japanese soldiers aboard USS Cocopa.

 

 

 

Pre-war & post-war frigate strength, 1939-1958

World navies comparative frigate strengths from 1939 to 1958.

Year USN RN Fr Ne USSR
1939 43 46

5
1941 22
1945 482 598 35 6 48
1948 13
1950 11
1951 36 44 16
1952 89
1954 33
1955 60
1957 71 26 61
1952 18

Source: Friedman, Norman. The Postwar Naval Revolution. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1986.

Pre-war & post-war destroyer strength, 1939-1958

World navies comparative destroyer (DD) strengths from 1939 to 1958.

Year USN RN Fr Ne USSR
1939 127 100 57 8
1941 42
1945 372 108 15 5 45
1948 135
1950 109
1951 28 11 5
1952 211
1954 26
1955 140
1957 212 19 19
1952 12

Source: Friedman, Norman. The Postwar Naval Revolution. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1986.

#OTD 21 May 1941 Royal Navy cruisers intercept German convoy off Crete

HMS Dido, HMS Ajax, and HMS Orion in action off Crete, 21st May 1941. The three cruisers and four destroyers (Janus, Hasty, Hereward, Kimberley) formed “Force D” under Rear-Admiral I.G.Glennie. On the night of 21st May, an Axis convoy of twenty caïques escorted by the Italian destroyer-escort Lupo attempted to land German troops at Maleme.

Interception of enemy convoy off Crete, by Rowland Langmaid, collection of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

HMS Vendetta 1917-1933, HMAS Vendetta 1933-1946

HMS/HMAS Vendetta was an Admiralty V-class destroyer that saw service during the First World War and the Second World War. Vendetta served in the Royal Navy from 1917 to 1933 and then transferred to the Royal Australian Navy as HMAS Vendetta in 1933. She was sold for scrap in 1946 and scuttled off Sydney Heads in 1948.

HMS Vendetta, June 1919 (IWM Q73903).

First World War

HMS Vendetta was commissioned in 1917 and assigned to the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla which was attached to the Grand Fleet. In October 1917, the flotilla consisted of the light cruiser HMS Champion as flagship, the depot ship HMS Woolwich, two flotilla leaders, twenty-one M-class destroyers, seven R-class destroyers, and six V-class destroyers (including Vendetta). Her first action was against German minesweepers operating in the Kattegat.

On the night of 17th November 1917, Vendetta formed part of the destroyer screen for the First Light Cruiser Squadron at the Second Battle of Heligoland Bight.

In March 1918, the flotilla was transferred to the Battle Cruiser Force (Rear Admiral William Pakenham).

HMS Vendetta, June 1919 (IWM Q73907).

Interwar

Following the First World War, Vendetta was assigned to the Baltic in support of White forces during the Russian Civil War. On 12th December 1918, she rescued 430 crew from HMS Cassandra when the cruiser struck a mine and sank. Vendetta also took part in the capture of the Bolshevik Orfey-class destroyer ‘Spartak’ and the Izyaslav-class destroyer ‘Lennuk’ which were transferred to the Estonian Navy.

Between 1924 and 1933, Vendetta served with First Destroyer Flotilla and the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet.

In 1933, Vendetta was transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. Together with the destroyer leader Stuart and the destroyers Vampire, Voyager, and Waterhen, she departed Chatham on 17th October and arrived in Sydney on 21st December. The 5 ships formed the Australian Destroyer Flotilla, later to become the infamous “Scrap Iron Flotilla.”

HMAS Vendetta ship’s company 1937 (RAN photo).

Second World War

HMAS Vendetta served in the Royal Australian Navy throughout the Second World War. In November 1939, the RAN approved an Admiralty request to transfer Australian destroyers to the Mediterranean Fleets. HMAS Venedtta took passage with Stuart, Voyager, and Waterhen via the Red Sea and Suez, arriving at Malta on 14th December.

During her time in the Mediterranean, Vendetta earned battle honours for the Libya campaign (1940-41), the Battle of Cape Matapan (1941), the Battle of Greece (1941), and Crete (1941). She also served as a convoy escort between Gibraltar, Malta, and Alexandria, and as a member of the famous ‘Tobruk Ferry Service’ ferrying supplies into the besieged city and evacuating wounded. After 2-years continuous service in the Mediterranean, Vendetta was nominated for refit and, after transit of Suez and Bombay, arrived at Sembawang Dockyard, Singapore on 12th November 1941.

HMAS Vendetta, Tobruk Ferry Service, 1941 (RAN photo).

When war with Japan broke out, Vendetta was still under refit at Sembawang. When the Japanese bombed Singapore on 8th December 1941, a stick of bombs fell within 200-yards of the destroyer. There was a further air raid on 31st December, during which time Vendetta‘s anti aircraft armament went into action. During an air raid on 21st January 1942, Vendetta shot down a Japanese bomber with a direct hit on its bomb bay. With Japanese forces approaching Singapore from landward, the stripped-down Vendetta was towed from the dockyard on 2nd February, reaching Batavia on 10th February, Fremantle on 4th March, and Melbourne on 15th April. Her refit recommenced at Williamstown and was finally complete in September 1942.

HMAS Vendetta (RAN photo).

Vendetta‘s refit involved a reduction in main armament and an increase in anti aircraft armament. She would now serve as a well-armed dedicated escort vessel instead of a “workhorse” destroyer. During her service in the Far East, Vendetta earned the battle honours Pacific (1941-43) and New Guinea (1943-44). In September 1945, Vendetta transported Australian representatives to Rabaul to accept the surrender of Japanese forces.

HMAS Vendetta paid off on 17th November 1945 and was placed on the disposal list. The ship was sold for scrapping in 1946 and her hulk was scuttled off Sydney Heads on 2nd July 1948.

HMS Vendetta / HMAS Vendetta Details
Admiralty V and W-class destroyer.
Built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Govan.
Laid down November 1916.
Launched 3rd September 1917.
Completed 17th October 1917.
Sold for scrap, scuttled off Sydney 1948.

HMS Vendetta / HMAS Vendetta Specifications
Displacement: 1,090t
Length: 312ft o/a
Beam: 29ft 6in
Draught: 14ft 8in
Machinery: 3 Yarrow boilers, 2 Brown-Curtis turbines, 29,417 SHP, 2 shafts
Speed: 35kn
Complement: 6 officers and 133 ratings
Armament:
as built: 4 QF 4-inch Mk V guns, 1 QF 2-pounder Mk II, 2 triple 21-inch torpedo tubes
added later: 2 depth charge rails, 4 depth charge throwers
post-1942 refit: 2 4-inch guns, 2 pom-poms, 4 Oerlikon guns, 7 .303-inch guns, depth charges

HMS Vendetta, January 1919 (IWM ART1657).

Links

“The Navy’s here!” HMS Cossack frees prisoners from the Altmark, 16 February 1940

On 16 February, 1940, Royal Navy Tribal-class destroyer HMS Cossack (Capt. Philip Vian, RN) pursued the German prison ship Altmark into Jøssingfjord, Norway, and freed 299 prisoners of war.

The orders to enter neutral Norwegian waters had been approved personally by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill. If Capt. Vian was unable to secure the cooperation of the Norwegian authorities to search the Altmark – which herself was in violation of Norwegian neutrality – then he was ordered to board the Nazi vessel regardless, as a copy of the Admiralty signal to Vian shows:

Signal from Admiralty to Captain (D) 4th Flotilla.

Signal from Admiralty to Captain (D) 4th Flotilla sent 16th February 1940.

The official Norwegian inspection of Altmark when she entered territorial waters had, on three separate occasions, failed to discover the 299 prisoners held in the ship’s hold. How thorough were these inspections? To what extent was Adm. Carsten Tank-Nielsen complicit in letting the German’s continue their deception? Where the Norwegians attempting to curry favour Germany? These are questions worthy of debate at another time.

Vian was unable to secure the co-operation of the Norwegian authorities, beyond yet another assurance that the were no prisoners held on the Altmark. At 22:20 on the night of 16th February 1940, Vian brought HMS Cossack alongside the Altmark and sent a boarding party. After a bloody struggle, the armed German guards were overpowered and the prisoners were located.

“Any Englishmen here?”

“Yes! We are all British!”

“Well, the Navy’s here!”

The boarding party from HMS Cossack tackled the Altmark’s German guards in hand-to-hand fighting with fixed bayonets and cutlasses. It was the last recorded use of the cutlass in a boarding action by the Royal Navy.

Cutlass, 1900 Pattern. From the Canadian War Museum.

Concluding the action, Capt. Vian signalled the Admiralty with news of his success, as this copy of his signal shows:

Capt. Vian's signal to the Admiralty sent on the morning of 17 February 1940.

Capt. Vian’s signal to the Admiralty sent on the morning of 17 February 1940.

HMS Cossack left Jøssingfjord unmolested by Norwegian ships, although official protests were lodged through diplomatic channels. She arrived at Leith where she landed the rescued merchant seamen. Vian was awarded the DSO for his actions on the night of 16th/17th February and the phrase, “The Navy’s here!” would enter the history books.

HMS ‘Cossack’ and the prison ship ‘Altmark’, 16 February 1940, by Norman Wilkinson. Painting in collection of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Copyright Norman Wilkinson Estate.

Royal Navy Films (YouTube channel)

Please visit the Royal Navy Films YouTube channel. It is a collection of Royal Navy instructional films, documentaries, recruitment ads, and miscellaneous bits & pieces.

Here is a sample: Action Navy (1975), Launch & Recover (1960), and Sam Pepys Joins the Navy (1941). There are more at the YouTube channel.