26 July 1945: British Operation "Struggle":
The British, after taking Rangoon, Burma, are fast moving towards Singapore. The TAKAO and the MYOKO's eight-inch guns pose a threat to any forces that may try to cross the causeway from Johore, Malaya to Singapore Island. The cruisers could also wreak havoc with Allied shipping attacking from seaward.
Lt G. S. C. Clarabut's submarine HMS STYGIAN departs Brunei and tows S/Lt Frank Ogden's midget submarine HMS XE3 towards Singapore. The HMS SPARK tows the HMS XE1, under Lt J. E. Smart who is assigned to attack the MYOKO.
30 July 1945:
At 0600, S/Lt Ogden and his passage crew turn the XE3 over to Lt Ian Fraser and his three-man crew to execute the attack on the TAKAO. At 2300, the XE3 slips her tow at 036 degrees from the Horsburgh Light. Intelligence briefed them that the buoys marking the channel swept through the minefield would be lit, but all are extinguished except the Horsburgh Light.
31 July 1945:
At 0217, the main engine is stopped and they creep past a listening post using the electric motor only. About 0240, Fraser fixes their position at 8. 3 miles from Johore. He goes ahead on his main engine at 4.5 knots. At 0400, a large tanker and an escorting motor launch come into view closing at high speed. The XE3 dives. About 0420, she surfaces, but the two ships are still nearby, heading towards them. The XE3 dives again.
As the XE3 makes her way up the Johore Strait her echo-sounder registers the depth at thirty feet as she crosses the Johore Shoal. At 0800 they pass through the boom guarding the harbor. At 1250, the TAKAO comes into view. Suddenly, a liberty boat full of sailors passes by at about 40 feet, but without spotting the XE3.
Fraser maneuvers the XE3 into position under the TAKAO with only a foot of water between her and the cruiser's keel. Leading Seaman Magennis dons his breathing appartus, succeeds in cleaning away marine growth and plants six limpet mines spread across 45 feet of the TAKAO's hull. Magennis re-enters the midget and her crew operates the hand wheels to drop the two side cargoes - one full of two tons of high explosive and the other the empty limpet carrier. The HE charge falls away, but the limpet carrier refuses to budge.
The TAKAO slowly settles with the tide. The XE-3 is trapped under her bilge keel. After much thrashing with the motor and pumping water the midget frees herself from the cruiser. Now, the flooded limpet carrier has to be ditched. The only way to release it is by hand. Magennis, already exhausted, dons his breathing apparatus again and completes the task. At 2130, some but not all of the limpet mines explode and blow a 23 by 10 foot hole in the starboard side of the TAKAO's hull. Her keel buckles, the blast disables her turrets and damages her rangefinder, but she does not sink. Postwar, it is learned that she was manned by a skeleton crew and had no ammunition aboard for her 8-inch main armament.
Later, Lt Fraser and Leading Seaman Magennis are each awarded Britain's highest military award for valor - the Victoria Cross.