British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

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Admiral Bloonbeard
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British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Admiral Bloonbeard » 28 Jun 2021 19:57

I know the British were very hotly involved in the Pacific war since the beginning. The British were the main enemy for Japan in Burma and the Indian Ocean, they also helped supply the Chinese and the Americans in the Second Sino Japanese war, and had officers and royal marines serving with the Australians and New Zealanders in the Pacific. However, many of the ships the British served in were Australian and New Zealander in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific. How hotly were HMS ships and British troops involved in that theater?

EwenS
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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by EwenS » 28 Jun 2021 21:20

Leaving aside the RAN and RNZN ships here are a few.

HMS Victorious deployed to the Pacific in 1943.
Minelayer Ariadne spent most of 1944 detached to the Pacific. She laid mines off Wewak in New Guinea and landed troops at Leyte Gulf.
Force X. LSH Lothian and 6 LSI deployed to the Pacific in Aug 1944 most of which had participated in Normandy D-Day. At the end of the day they were only used in the rear areas by the US 7th Fleet. It was not a happy deployment. There was a mutiny in Lothian on the way out as she was really not suited to the tropical conditions. Some of these returned to the U.K. in mid 1945 while others joined the BPF.
The British Pacific Fleet itself. Formed Nov 1944 by splitting the Eastern Fleet in Ceylon. Sailed for Australia in Jan 1945 striking at Sumatran refineries en route. From March to May 1945it formed TF57 to pound down airfields in the Sakishima Gunto. In July / Aug the carriers joined the US 3rd Fleet carriers in striking at the Japanese home islands with a Victoria Cross awarded posthumously to Lt COmmander Hammy Gray RCNVR. A second carrier group was forming as the war ended.
http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org ... NotqcrTWhA
http://www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org ... NotzcrTWhA
https://www.armouredcarriers.com/#


BPF submarines operated out of Fremantle and later Subic Bay in the Philippines against Japanese shipping in DEI waters.
Midget sub operations in July / Aug 1945 against undersea cables and Japanese cruisers in Singapore harbour. The latter operation saw the award of 2 Victoria Crosses.

Tiger Force. Plans for heavy bombers to be based on Okinawa from Aug / Sept 1945. Airfield Construction units to prepare their airfields had reached Eniwetok at the time of the surrender. 9 & 617 squadrons were scheduled to be the first to fly out from the U.K. equipped with Tallboy bombs in time to take part in Operation Olympic.

300 Wing/Group Transport Command was set up in Australia with 238 and 243 Dakota squadrons and a Liberator flight to support the BPF.

618 squadron with Highball bouncing bombs in Mosquito IV aircraft was sent out to Australia at the end of Oct 1944. Plans to operate them against the Japanese fleet from the carriers Implacable & Indefatigable came to nothing and it was disbanded in Australia in July 1945.

Plans were being formulated in 1945 for a Commonwealth Army Corps to join Operation Coronet, the invasion of Honshu, in March 1946. Canadian 6th div, British 3rd div and Australian 10th div. were earmarked although Britain had greater plans at one point. Landing ships and support ships would have come from the East Indies Fleet landing ships.

BPF ships also participated in Japanese surrenders at Tokyo Bay, Hong Kong, Shanghai and various other places.

That is what immediately comes to mind for the Pacific, setting aside anything that happened in the Indian Ocean area in 1944/45.
Last edited by EwenS on 29 Jun 2021 07:31, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Jun 2021 00:31

Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
28 Jun 2021 19:57
I know the British were very hotly involved in the Pacific war since the beginning. The British were the main enemy for Japan in Burma and the Indian Ocean, they also helped supply the Chinese and the Americans in the Second Sino Japanese war, and had officers and royal marines serving with the Australians and New Zealanders in the Pacific. However, many of the ships the British served in were Australian and New Zealander in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific. How hotly were HMS ships and British troops involved in that theater?
Before WW2 the British knew they faced three enemies Germany, Italy and Japan. There were not enough resources to match each threat and risks had to be taken. The original idea was for a fleet to be sent to Singapore. This was reduced to two fast battleships and an aircraft carrier - force Z. The British hoped that the Americans could be persuaded to provide a fleet to cover SW Pacific.

During WW2 some Americans were keen to exclude the British from involvement in the Pacific. FDR had an anti imperialist as well as anti axis policy.

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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Admiral Bloonbeard » 29 Jun 2021 00:34

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Jun 2021 00:31
Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
28 Jun 2021 19:57
I know the British were very hotly involved in the Pacific war since the beginning. The British were the main enemy for Japan in Burma and the Indian Ocean, they also helped supply the Chinese and the Americans in the Second Sino Japanese war, and had officers and royal marines serving with the Australians and New Zealanders in the Pacific. However, many of the ships the British served in were Australian and New Zealander in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific. How hotly were HMS ships and British troops involved in that theater?
Before WW2 the British knew they faced three enemies Germany, Italy and Japan. There were not enough resources to match each threat and risks had to be taken. The original idea was for a fleet to be sent to Singapore. This was reduced to two fast battleships and an aircraft carrier - force Z. The British hoped that the Americans could be persuaded to provide a fleet to cover SW Pacific.

During WW2 some Americans were keen to exclude the British from involvement in the Pacific. FDR had an anti imperialist as well as anti axis policy.
ANZACs were actually hotly involved in the Pacific, they fought with the Americans more often than not

EwenS
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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by EwenS » 29 Jun 2021 07:37

Oh, and one more operation. HMS Newfoundland was detached from the BPF in May 1945 to join HMAS Hobart, Arunta and Warramunga in providing gunfire support to Australian troops in their operations to clear the Wewak area of New Guinea.

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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Sheldrake » 29 Jun 2021 11:52

Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
29 Jun 2021 00:34
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Jun 2021 00:31
Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
28 Jun 2021 19:57
I know the British were very hotly involved in the Pacific war since the beginning. The British were the main enemy for Japan in Burma and the Indian Ocean, they also helped supply the Chinese and the Americans in the Second Sino Japanese war, and had officers and royal marines serving with the Australians and New Zealanders in the Pacific. However, many of the ships the British served in were Australian and New Zealander in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific. How hotly were HMS ships and British troops involved in that theater?
Before WW2 the British knew they faced three enemies Germany, Italy and Japan. There were not enough resources to match each threat and risks had to be taken. The original idea was for a fleet to be sent to Singapore. This was reduced to two fast battleships and an aircraft carrier - force Z. The British hoped that the Americans could be persuaded to provide a fleet to cover SW Pacific.

During WW2 some Americans were keen to exclude the British from involvement in the Pacific. FDR had an anti imperialist as well as anti axis policy.
ANZACs were actually hotly involved in the Pacific, they fought with the Americans more often than not
Yup Australia and New Zealand are states in the South West Pacific. The Singapore naval base was built, despite the financial constraints of the 1920s as an Imperial commitment to the defence of Australia and New Zealand. After the Japanese success in the first half of 1942 the Australian government demanded the return of Australian land forces to Australia where the excellent Australian soldiers became involved in the side show of clearing up the Solomon Islands. New Zealand continued to retain their expeditionary force in Italy.

I recently read an interestign book by T O Smith called Churchill, America and Vietnam, 1941–45. There is a lot about the US policies towards the British and French 9imperial powers and how WW2 led to Vietnam.

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Admiral Bloonbeard
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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Admiral Bloonbeard » 29 Jun 2021 17:57

Sheldrake wrote:
29 Jun 2021 11:52
Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
29 Jun 2021 00:34
Sheldrake wrote:
29 Jun 2021 00:31
Admiral Bloonbeard wrote:
28 Jun 2021 19:57
I know the British were very hotly involved in the Pacific war since the beginning. The British were the main enemy for Japan in Burma and the Indian Ocean, they also helped supply the Chinese and the Americans in the Second Sino Japanese war, and had officers and royal marines serving with the Australians and New Zealanders in the Pacific. However, many of the ships the British served in were Australian and New Zealander in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific. How hotly were HMS ships and British troops involved in that theater?
Before WW2 the British knew they faced three enemies Germany, Italy and Japan. There were not enough resources to match each threat and risks had to be taken. The original idea was for a fleet to be sent to Singapore. This was reduced to two fast battleships and an aircraft carrier - force Z. The British hoped that the Americans could be persuaded to provide a fleet to cover SW Pacific.

During WW2 some Americans were keen to exclude the British from involvement in the Pacific. FDR had an anti imperialist as well as anti axis policy.
ANZACs were actually hotly involved in the Pacific, they fought with the Americans more often than not
Yup Australia and New Zealand are states in the South West Pacific. The Singapore naval base was built, despite the financial constraints of the 1920s as an Imperial commitment to the defence of Australia and New Zealand. After the Japanese success in the first half of 1942 the Australian government demanded the return of Australian land forces to Australia where the excellent Australian soldiers became involved in the side show of clearing up the Solomon Islands. New Zealand continued to retain their expeditionary force in Italy.

I recently read an interestign book by T O Smith called Churchill, America and Vietnam, 1941–45. There is a lot about the US policies towards the British and French 9imperial powers and how WW2 led to Vietnam.
Why did many Australian forces were moved to the Pacific when the New Zealanders kept their forces in the Mediterranean?

EwenS
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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by EwenS » 29 Jun 2021 19:19

Firstly New Zealand didn't keep all its forces in the Mediterranean. When war with Japan broke out the 2nd NZ Div was in the Med theatre. NZ chose to maintain that division there until the war ended.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_New_Zealand_Division

In 1942 it raised the 3rd Div which fought through the Solomons until 1944 when manpower shortages kicked in and it was disbanded. Some troops were sent as replacements for the 2nd NZ Div in India while others returned to civilian employment. From Wiki.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3rd_Divis ... w_Zealand)

The RNZAF maintained operational fighter and bomber units in the Solomons/New Britain area until the end of the war.

The RNZN deployed its two cruisers in the Solomons until they were damaged 1943/44.

You will find the Official NZ Histories here:-
http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarl ... s-WH2.html

The Australian position was different. The pace of the Far East war meant that Australia felt that it was immediately threatened with the prospect of invasion at the beginning of 1942. Who better to defend home territory than its own people. The loss of the 8th Div at Singapore did not endear the British to the Australians either. So the 6th & 7th Divisions were returned to Australia in Jan/Feb 1942 to be redeployed in New Guinea. Churchill managed to get agreement to hold the 9th Div in Egypt during 1942 and it returned to Australia in Jan 1943 after the victory at El Alamein at Australian insistence.

An awful lot of politics went on around the deployment and use of Australian units in WW2. Their PM, Curtin, wanted Australians to have control of their own forces.

Plenty of background for you to follow up on through here:-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Au ... rial_Force
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_A ... rld_War_II
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1417143

Sid Guttridge
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Re: British involvement in the South West Pacific and Central Pacific?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 30 Jun 2021 07:08

Hi AB,

You ask, "Why did many Australian forces were moved to the Pacific when the New Zealanders kept their forces in the Mediterranean?"

New Zealand was a much smaller colony and much more closely tied to London at the time. (It still apparently offered a frigate to support the Royal Navy as late as the Falklands War in 1981). It was therefore more responsive to Imperial requirements than Australia was. Many Kiwis probably still saw themselves as Britons abroad, whereas most Australians probably had a more developed sense of national identity. The immediate Japanese threat of invasion led the Australians to become understandably very self concerned. New Zealand always had the luxury of the US Navy and Australia as a buffer.

As pointed out above, the main New Zealand Army commitment (2nd Division) remained in Europe to the end of the war. At some 40,000 men it reached the size of a corps and Rommel described it as virtually a national army. However, as also pointed out above, 3rd New Zealand Division served in the South Pacific, largely in British possessions, and three other home defence divisions were not sent overseas.

Cheers,

Sid.

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