- Thomson, Max
- WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Hawkesbury I
- September 2005 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
A lifetime onwards, Navy men and women reflected inevitably during the month of May 2005 as to where they actually were when the German surrender brought about cessation of WWII in Europe.
In the annals of our RAN ships and the memories of those who served in them is the fascination of recalling where they were – and what circumstances prevailed – when news reached them of Germany’s surrender. Exemplified by this now-historic signal just days after participating in the AIF invasion at Tarakan in Borneo, the frigate HMAS Hawkesbury was assigned to give naval protection to the American fleet tanker USS Winooski on a rush trip from Tarakan to the Philippines, to return with vital fuel replenishment for the Tarakan Force.
Approaching Mindanao, HMAS Hawkesbury’s radio room received this signal:
CONFIDENTIAL — MOST IMMEDIATE AIG (Admiralty Instruction General) 716A FROM: ADMIRALTY My 080012. Part 1.
GERMAN HIGH COMMAND HAS SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY ALL GERMAN LAND, SEA AND AIR FORCES IN EUROPE EFFECTIVE FROM 0001b HOURS REPEAT 0001B HOURS (1101 Item) 9th REPEAT 9th FROM WHICH HOUR ALL OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS ARE TO CEASE. DUE TO DIFFICULTIES OF COMMUNICATIONS THERE MAY BE SOME DELAY IN THESE ORDERS REACHING ENEMY FORCES. ACCORDINGLY DANGER OF ATTACKING INDIVIDUAL ENEMY SURFACE CRAFT, U-BOATS AND AIRCRAFT MAY PERSIST FOR SOME TIME TO COME.
Part 2: THE FLEET IN ALL WATERS IS TO REMAIN ON WAR FOOTING AND IN A CONSTANT STATE OF VIGILANCE. NO REPEAT NO RELEASE IS TO BE MADE TO PRESS PENDING AN ANNOUNCEMENT BY HEADS OF GOVERNMENT. 080012 B Received in Hawkesbury’s radio room at 0208 on May 8 1945 steaming between Borneo and Mindanao in company with USS Winooski. War with Germany had ended, but finalisation of the great conflict with Japan had yet to be achieved.
(The signal is now preserved with a collection of HMAS Hawkesbury memorabilia at the HAWKESBURY HISTORICAL MUSEUM on the banks of the Hawkesbury River at Windsor NSW).