WORLD WAR TWO: PIKE, J.G.
Midshipman's Journal; small folio; original quarter cloth binding. 186 manuscript pages, three drawings, six hand drawn and two large folding maps and nine documents pasted in. The Journal of Midshipman J G Pike a Commando in the Royal Naval Reserve. The Journal chronicles the little recorded or noted tale of the Royal Navy's role in the final defeat of Japan in the Pacific between March 1944 and August 1945. Covering Pike's service on HMS Newcastle from March to April 1944 and on HMS Gambia from April 1944 until the end of the War. HMNZS Gambia served with the British Pacific Fleet, and participated in attacks on Japanese positions throughout the Pacific and supported a series of carrier raids against oil installations and airfields. She saw action off Okinawa, Formosa and Japan and took part in the bombardment of the Japanese city of Kamaishi on 9 August. She was under attack by Japanese aircraft at the time that a ceasefire was announced, and possibly fired the last shots of World War II. She was present on 2 September 1945 in Tokyo Bay for the signing of Japanese Instrument of Surrender. Rich in detail, this is a superb account of service in Royal Navy in closing months of the War.
February 9th 1945."Today Lord Louis Mountbatten came on board........The hands were fallen in on the quarterdeck and after the Supreme Commander had been introduced to the heads of departments he went to the microphone to give a speech. He made a very impressive speech..."
May 5th 1945. "The attack on the carriers were carried out by Jap suicide bombers, in two waves of three. These planes followed our air strike back and came in absolutely undetected, all these planes were in flames before they hit their targets. One crashed on Formidable and another crashed but slid off. One near miss was obtained by Indomitable and another on Victorious. The rest were shot down."
9th May 1945. "At about dusk one of the destroyers had sighted an object on the horizon. The object seems to be a huge splash in the water with smoke above it. It was later reported that the object was presumably a rocket plane."
16th July 1945. "At 0500 today the American 3rd Fleet was sighted. It was divided into 3 groups. Each group consisting of 3 battleships, 5 carriers, 6 cruisers and destroyers. All told there were 102 American ships. The British Fleet totalled 24 ships."
11th August 1945. "2 Atomic Bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This new terrible weapon destroyed a whole city in one blast. No details have been released to give us any true picture of the actual damage. The rumours circulating are varied and many. Now we are hoping for the Japanese to surrender. The fleet was due to return to Sydney on the 9th, but owing to the sudden developments we were remaining in the area."
"Later in the day a general signal read that the main body of carriers would return to Sydney leaving the King George V, Indefatigable, Gambia and Newfoundland with the American Fleet in case ships were needed to enter Japanese ports. "
13th August 1945. At 0830 today Admiral Halsey signalled "Line up for the last round".
15th August 1945. "Early this morning rumours were rife that the Japanese had "packed up". However, no official signal from Macarthur was received and a strike of 700 planes was flown off at dawn from all task force groups to attack Tokyo. At 0800 the strike returned with reports of heavy opposition from both flak and fighters over Tokyo. Ten aircraft from British carriers and 16 Americans were shot down."
"At 1129 a message was received from CTF which read 'CEASE HOSTILITIES AGAINST JAPAN'. At that same moment a Judy appeared dead astern flying straight at us firing her machine guns. There were a large crowd of men standing on the quarterdeck and soon as the plane was spotted, everyone immediately ran for their respective stations. No alarm was given. However two Seafires were close on its tail and the plane was blown to pieces over our foremast. It all happened in about one minute and after the shock we found that five men had been killed by machine gun bullets and 11 wounded. Among the dead was my very close friend Midshipman Joe O'Keefe R.N.R. The only officer on the Gambia that was killed in action. It seems impossible that the war is over after six long horrible years."
Pike as a Royal Marine Commando transferred to an American Landing Ship and was one of the first Allied soldiers to set foot on mainland Japan.
27th August 1945. "It was fitting that the fleet anchored as the sun set behind Fujiyama which symbolised the last sunset of the once powerful Japanese Empire beaten to her knees in defeat now."
Pike led a small detachment of Commandos to secure one of two forts guarding Sagami Bay.
29th August 1945. "We landed on a small jetty on Fort No 1. A party of Japanese Officers were drawn up and I was approached by a Japanese Naval Lieutenant. He spoke English and his first words were 'welcome to our American friends' at which I informed him curtly that we were British which seem to disconcert him somewhat."
The diary concludes with an entry regarding the collection of British POW's.
30th August 1945. "Our duties at Yokosuka were the occupation of the dockyard area, to make an inventory of all supplies… a large body of Japanese troops in the area and be at 'stand to' in case of attempted suicide attacks by disgruntled Japanese. Today I accompanied Lt. Comm. Davis-Goff by car to Ofuna a few miles to the North West of Yokosuka to a prisoner-of-war camp where air force prisoners were imprisoned. On our arrival we were greeted by a large throng of prisoners some in a severe state of emaciation and others looking surprisingly cheerful and healthy. I was later informed that the healthy ones were the "new boys" shot down recent to the war's end."
These are the last words of the diary. Pike was recommended to be Mentioned in Despatches for his leadership of the landing party.
All midshipman journals in the Royal navy were marked weekly by the ship's captain and the Captain of the Gambia had a lot to say about Pikes's efforts. He is given short shrift when he questions why the Royal Navy was in the Pacific and as a consequence has to write an essay on the Future and Importance of the British Empire!
Also included are his medal group consisting of 1939-45 and Burma star with Pacific clasp, war medal with oak leaves, Africa Service medal, New Zealand medal and Colonial Special Constabulary medal.