Operation Inmate

This was a British and New Zealand naval bombardment of Japanese installations on Truk atoll in the Caroline islands group (12/16 June 1945).

The operation resulted from the release of Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser’s British Pacific Fleet, which was under the tactical command of Vice Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings, second-in-command of the fleet, from 'Iceberg' operations against the Ryukyu islands group on 25 May, whereupon the fleet had returned to its base Sydney, Australia, to refit and replenish. The aim was for the ships to rejoin Admiral William H. Halsey’s US 3rd Fleet by mid-July.

Soon after the fleet reached Sydney the battleship Howe was detached to refit at Durban, South Africa, but the arrival of the fleet carrier Implacable more than compensated for the departure of the battleship.

Rear Admiral E. J. P. Brind assumed command of Task Group 111.2, a special force organised to attack the main Japanese base at Truk, which the American forces had bypassed in their central Pacific drive toward the Philippine islands group. On 10 June the task group sailed from the British Pacific Fleet’s forward base at Manus island, the largest of the Admiralty islands group to the north of New Guinea, with Implacable, escort carrier Ruler tasked with the provision of an emergency landing deck, light cruisers Newfoundland, Swiftsure, Canadian Uganda and New Zealand Achilles, and destroyers Teazer, Tenacious, Termagant, Terpsichore and Troubridge.

Apart from fulfilling the primary object of keeping Truk neutralised, the operation provided an excellent opportunity for Implacable’s aircrews to gain experience in their new operational theatre.

On 14 June the British Pacific Fleet carried launched an air attack with 21 Grumman Avenger, 11 Fairey Firefly and 48 Supermarine Seafire warplanes, the last allocated in part to the maintenance of a combat air patrol, during the night of 14/15 June Uganda, Achilles and Tenacious undertook a gunfire bombardment of the island of Dublon, and Newfoundland and Troubridge shelled the island of Uman and Swiftsure and Teazer shelled the island of Moen.

On 15 June Implacable’s aircraft made further attacks. In all, the fleet carrier launched 113 attack and 103 combat air patrol sorties. The availability of significant targets was limited by earlier US attacks on this island base.

On 28 June Rawlings was ready to leave Sydney with the main body of the British Pacific Fleet, although Indefatigable was still refitting and Indomitable was delayed by machinery problems. At Manus island Rawlings’s and Brind’s elements of the British Pacific Fleet met after the latter’s return from Truk, and this raised the strength of the British Pacific Fleet to one battleship, three fleet carriers, six cruisers and 15 destroyers. The arrival of Implacable, with her greater complement of aircraft, added substantially to the striking power of the British Pacific Fleet.

After refuelling at Manus island the British Pacific Fleet steamed to the rendezvous at which it was to rejoin the 3rd Fleet.