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HMS King George V — Operational Flag Ship of the British Pacific Fleet 1945

by BBC Southern Counties Radio

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
BBC Southern Counties Radio
People in story: 
Peter Glaysher
Location of story: 
Australia/Japan/Australia/UK
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A4389636
Contributed on: 
07 July 2005

I was serving as a young ordinary seaman on board HMS King George V. The ship left Sydney on 28 February 1945 and joined the rest of the Fleet in the Admiralty Islands where I celebrated my 18th birthday. From there we joined the American Fleet in the Caroline Islands and onward to Okinawa. The British were operating off the Sakishima Islands in between Okinawa and Formosa. I was able to spend a few hours on shore at Leyte before the ship returned to Okinawa. The ship returned to Australia on 15th to 28 June 1945 before sailing north again, this time arriving off the Japanese mainland on 17 July 1945 where we joined the American 3rd and 5th Fleets.

We stayed off the mainland before proceeding to Hamamatsu, along with the nine American battleships where we carried out a bombardment. The fleet were harried at night by “suicide boats” which I can describe as a small motor boat packed full of explosives. These did not do any apparent damage to any of the ships because they were destroyed by gunfire. After any action the fleet “retired” from the coast to a safer distance out at sea but the fleet suffered many attacks by Kamikaze pilots. However HMS King George V was not hit.

The next action I was involved in was against Hitachi Airport which was heavily bombarded by both the British and American fleets. During these actions the British Fleet was under the command of the Americans which meant President Trueman was Supreme Commander of the American Fleet. This was the only time that I am aware of during the war the Americans had command of the British Fleet.

The fleet was stationed off Japan when both atom bombs were dropped. On board HMS King George V we were told that a bomb would be dropped on Nagasaki but we were too far away to see or hear anything. I had to wear anti-flash gear just in case but the ship was heavily battened down. A few days after the bombs were dropped the Japanese surrendered on the 15 August 1945. For two/three days after the surrender the fleet was still being attacked by suicide kamikaze bombers and it wasn’t until the Emperor himself broadcast on the radio that Japan had surrendered that these attacks ceased. The King George V anchored in Sagami Wan and I remember I helped paint the ship before proceeding into Tokyo Bay. Most of the American and British fleet then sailed into Tokyo Bay and the naval ports. British landing parties had already gone in to secure Yokosuka Naval Base and stayed there for three weeks until the Americans took over. The White Ensign used by the landing party was signed by most of the landing party and is now in the Imperial War Museum in London. HMS King George V then retuned to Sydney where I spent Christmas 1945 in the town of Bathurst, New South Wales having a great time. I also took part in the parade to celebrate victory in Melbourne. After Melbourne we went back to Sydney and HMS King George V left Australia in January 1946 when we took the new Governor General of Australia the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and their family to Tasmania before returning to the UK via Freemantle, Cape Town, Free Town and then Home.

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Message 1 - king george v

Posted on: 12 July 2005 by mrstarbuck

When the ship was in Sydney in february 1945 I got the chance to visit it with my father who had met one of the officers.
Apart from being impressed by the inside of the forward 14 inch turrets my most vivid memory was of the numerous 20 mm oerlikons which seemed to have been bolted onto every spare space on the decks and which told me that they expected heavy air attack.
Crew members commented that a ship designed for the North Atlantic was very hot in the tropics.
Tony Buckley

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