The British Pacific and East Indies Fleets

The forgotten fleets that fought the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian Oceans


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Two new fleets to engage the Japanese on two fronts

A major reorganisation of naval resources

Following the successful Allied landings in France during the summer of 1944, Operation OVERLORD in June and Operation DRAGOON in August, Britain began to reallocate resources to the Far East and the war against Japan.

Two new fighting forces were officially formed in November 1944 to operate against the Japanese in the Pacific and Indian oceans; a restructured Eastern Fleet was eedesignated the East Indies Fleet (EIF) and would operate in the Indian Ocean while a new force the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) was assembled to join the American forces in the Pacific.

The British Pacific Fleet

Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser hoisted his flag in H.M.S. TARANTULA at Colombo as Commander in Chief British Pacific Fleet on November 22md 1944. This was a Carrier Strike Force for operations against the Japanese in the Pacific as the allies fought to regain territories in the region and ultimately the invasion of Mainland Japan. After working up with elements of the EIF and conducting operations ROBSON, LENTIL, MERIDIAN One, and MERIDIAN Two during Demander 1944 and January 1945 they arrived in Sydney Australia on February 10th. Here the 5 Fleet Carriers, 2 Battleships, 5 Cruisers, 10 Destroyers became Task Force 113. On Arrival at the intermediate base at Manus in the Admiralty Islands they came under the operational control of Admiral Raymond Spruance USN, C in C US Fifth Fleet on March 23rd and Redesignated Task Force 57.

The East Indies Fleet

Admiral Sir Arthur J. Power hoisted his flag in H.M.S. CARADOC at Colombo as Commander in Chief East Indies Fleet on November 22md 1944. This fleet would operate in the Indian Ocean providing trade protection for convoys and conduct combat operations against the Japanese in Burma and Malaya.

The Fleet Train

This was a force specially assembled to service the Logistic support needs of the BPF while at sea. Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and requisitioned Merchant Fleet Auxiliaries alongside Naval support vessels supplied Fuel oil, naval, air and armament stores, replacement airframes and aero engines, fresh and frozen provisions in a supply chain that stretched from Australia to the replenishment areas at sea off Japan.

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British Pacific Fleet

M.F.A. FORT COLVILLE
M.F.A. FORT LANGLEY

H.M.S. PIONEER
HMS PERSEUS
H.M. S/M SANGUINE
H.M. S/M SEA DEVIL
 

East Indies Fleet

H.M. S/M SCYTHIAN
H.M. S/M SCORCHER
H.M.S. LCH-267
H.M.S. LCH-317
H.M.S. LCQ-391
H.M.S. LCQ-491

 

Fleet Carriers in the Pacific

Six Fleet Carriers, the largest of which could carry 70 aircraft, and four Light Fleet Carriers carrying 40 aircraft, were allocated to the BPF Carrier Strike Force

Escort Carriers in the Indian Ocean

Fifteen smaller Escort Carriers were allocated to the EIF operating on trade protection duties, and Fighter Carriers & Assault Carriers operating invasion forces

RN, RFA and Merchant Auxiliary vessels for replenishment at sea

Replenishment at Sea – this tanker is simultaneously pumping fuel oil to three Destroyers, two abeam using suspended hoses and the third astern via a floating hose

Mobile Naval Airfields established to support the BPF

The reserve aircraft park at Royal Naval Air Station Bankstown, HMS NABBERLEY at Sydney, New South Wales. The airfield, and seven others were loaned to the RN to house MONABs 1 - 7n.



 

 

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HM Ships COLOSSUS, GLORY, VENERABLE and VENGEANCE. GLORY did not arrive in Sydney until August 16th.

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At the end of June 1945, the Admiralty implemented a new system of classification for carrier air wings, adopting the American practice one carrier would embark a single Carrier Air Group (CAG) which would encompass all the ships squadrons.

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Sturtivant, R & Balance, T. (1994) 'Squadrons of the Fleet Air Arm’ list 899 squadron as conducting DLT on the Escort Carrier ARBITER on August 15th. It is possible that the usual three-day evolution was cancelled due to the announcement of the Japanese surrender on this date and was postponed for a month.

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The reminiscences of

Gordon served with the radio section of Mobile Repair UNit No.1 (MR 1) at Nowra, he was a member of the local RN dance band, and possibly the last member of MONAB I to leave Nowra after it paid off. .

Drafted to

Coming home

In March 1946 I joined 812 squadron, aboard HMS Vengeance, spending some time ditching American aircraft north of Australia. Eventually we sailed for Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) landing at Trincomalee and setting up a radio section at Katakarunda. In the belief that we were exhausted we were sent to a rest camp at Kandy for a few weeks. We moved down to Colombo to pick up Vengeance and returned to Portsmouth via the Suez Canal . I was discharged in November 1946.

Gordon Theaker