The East Indies Fleet (EIF) was a major command of the Royal Navy established on 22 November, 1944 following a reorganising of naval forces in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The ships of the Eastern Fleet were redistributed first to form a new British Pacific Fleet to be headquartered in Sydney, Australia, whilst the remaining ships of the former Eastern Fleet were to based in Trincomalee, Ceylon which was then re-designated the East Indies Fleet. On 8 March 1946 the East Indies Fleet was abolished. On 9 March 1946 the fleet was replaced by the reinstated East Indies Squadron that would operate in the naval command area the East Indies Station.
In 1904, the British First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Fisher, ordered that in the event of war the three main commands in the Far East, the East Indies Squadron, the China Squadron, and the Australian Squadron, should all come under one command called the Eastern Fleet based in Singapore. The Commander-in-Chief, China Station would then take command. During the First World War, the squadrons retained their distinct identities and 'Eastern Fleet' was used only as a general term.
The three-squadron structure continued until the Second World War and the beginning of hostilities with the Empire of Japan, when the Eastern Fleet was formally constituted on 8 December 1941, amalgamating the constituent ships of the East Indies Squadron the naval force allocated to the East Indies Station and the China Squadron the naval force assigned to the China Station. During the war, it included many ships and personnel from other navies, including those of the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.
On 22 November 1944 the ships of the Eastern Fleet were divided into two new fleets the most modern ships were used to form the British Pacific Fleet based at Sydney, Australia whilst the remaining ships came to form the new East Indies Fleet based in Trincomalee, Ceylon at which point the Eastern Fleet ceased to exist. This fleet would operate in the Indian Ocean providing trade protection for convoys and conduct combat operations against the Japanese in Burma and Malaya. It was the maritime component of the joint services South East Asia Command (SEAC).
There were three basic elements in the East Indies Fleet; the battle fleet with its carriers, battleships and supporting warships to tackle any Japanese heavy ships and strike at shore targets; the submarine force to deny Japan the use the sea routes between Singapore and Rangoon; and. often forgotten, a substantial escort force to guard the convoys between Suez and India, and between the Cape and India.
On 8 March 1946 Vice-Admiral Sir Clement Moody hauled down his flag as Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Fleet at Colombo (HMS Lanka). On 9 March, 1946 Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Francis Eric Palliser raised his flag at HMS Highflyer, Trincomalee as the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station.
Fleet HQ Colombo, Ceylon
Based at naval headquarters in Colombo (HMS Lanka) were the following flag officers ashore.
At various times it encompassed naval formations and other ships not attached to other fleets. In addition to shore establishments including, barracks, dockyards, depots, hospitals, refitting and re-supply bases, naval bases or victualling yards that were either Royal Navy or a supporting Commonwealth Navy. Those components that were part of this station are shown below.
↑Brown, David (1995). The British Pacific and East Indies fleets : 'the forgotten fleets' 50th anniversary. Commonwealth Shore Establishments & Base Ships, East Indies Fleet, British Pacific Fleet & National Establishments. Liverpool: Brodie Publishing. pp. 115–116. ISBN 9781874447283.