Japanese Kamikaze atack on Formidable May 1945, whilst on operations with the British Pacific Fleet

Royal Navy Aircraft Carriers of the British Pacific Fleet

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Naval Air Squadrons of the British Pacific Fleet

VJ-Day Fleet involving the Royal Navy

The British Pacific Fleet was a reluctant ally in the Japanese war. The Americans
regarded the defeat of the Japanese as "their" war, and had evolved fleets with
"long legs". This meant that the fleet could remain at sea for extended periods as their supply ships could provide food, fuel, ammunition and other supplies as they steamed. They used atolls as fleet anchorage to carry out repairs. In contrast, few British ships rarely remained at sea for more than eight days, and had become dependent on ports for repairs. The Americans demanded that the BPF be able to be at sea for 20 days per month as a minimum. The BPF had tried to develop their supply and repair fleet to American standards, but often had to ask the Americans for fuel or food when the British fleet train process was unable to deliver.

The command of the BPF was split between Sir Bruce Fraser (fleet operations) and Sir Philip Vian (air operations). The BPF had six new fleet carriers, HMS Indomitable, HMS Victorious, HMS Illustrious, HMS Implacable, HMS Indefatigable and HMS Formidable, but not all were active at the same time because of refits and engine problems. There were two battleships, HMS King George V and HMS Howe. These were escorted by six cruisers and 12 destroyers. The air crews were a mixture of Canadians, South Africans, New
Zealanders and British pilots. They flew mostly American aircraft such as the Corsair, Avenger and Hellcat, with a few Sea Fires.

The BPF was initially designated as Task Force 57, under Admiral Raymond Spruance. They joined the Okinawa campaign on March 26, but in early April they were allocated to their own theatre of war in the Sakishima Gunto group of islands north-east of Formosa. The BPF performed well in these operations, even
though targets were scarce. The objective was to prevent the Japanese from using the islands to supply aircraft to Okinawa where the kamikaze squadrons were wreaking major damage to the U.S. Fleet.

The BPF pilots (including Lt. Hammy Gray) carried out successful strikes against several airfields. The BFP came under attack from the kamikazes. Both HMS Indefatigable and HMS Formidable were hit, but their armoured flight decks prevented much damage, and the ships were back into operation within a few
hours. In contrast, many of the faster and lighter American carriers suffered
crippling damage because their flight decks were not armoured.


        Created 3-4-2000; Last Modified: 1-6-2005

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