THE FORGOTTENFORGOTTEN FLEET

Sea deployment in 1945, another fleet headed east forgotten British Pacific Fleet and its aircraft carriers.

FAA Avengers and Fireflys form up over the fleet immediately ahead of the attacks on Sumatran oil refineries. (KEY COLLECTION)

A British Avenger lands on one wheel after sustaining damage over the Sakishima Islands during the Battle of Okinawa. (KEY COLLECTION)

With the Americans setting course for Ulithi, in the Caroline Islands, in late January 1945, the Royal Navy’s Far Eastern Fleet departed Trincomalee, Ceylon, on 16 January. Their destination was Sydney, where the force would become the British Pacific Fleet and join with the US Navy for the final battles of the Pacific War. The four carriers were now 100 miles off the coast of Sumatra in the Dutch East Indies. The previous two days had been too stormy to launch the planned strike against the Pladjoe oil refineries in southern Sumatra, but this morning the sky had cleared.

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