Eastern Fleet

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Eastern Fleet (EF)
HMS Prince of Wales(1941)
HMS Highflyer(1941-42)
HMS Tana(1942-43)
HMS Lanka(1944)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Active(1941-1944)
CountryFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Fleet HQSingapore(1941)
Batavia , Dutch East Indies (1941)
Trincomalee, Ceylon (1941-1942)
Kilindini, Kenya (1942-1943)
Colombo, Ceylon (1944)
Commanders
FirstAdmiral Sir Tom Spencer Vaughan Phillips
LastAdmiral Sir Bruce Austin Fraser

The Eastern Fleet (EF) was a naval formation and major command of the British Royal Navy formally constituted on 3 December 1941 as one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy administered its worldwide responsibilities. It was defined so by the Department of Admiralty to identify the area jurisdiction of the office Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet and existed until November 1944 when its units were divided up to form two separate formations the East Indies Fleet and the British Pacific Fleet.

For command purposes the Royal Navy was divided into a number of major or local stations, fleets or or other formations, each normally under an admiral or senior officer.[1]

History

In 1904, the British First Sea Lord, 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 seperate distinct identities and 'Eastern Fleet' was used only as a general umbrella term. The three-squadron structure continued until the Second World War and the beginning of hostilities with the Empire of Japan. In May, 1941 In May 1941, Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton commanding the China Station was informed that Admiral Sir Tom Philips would be taking over from him if a battle force was sent to Singapore.

On 21 October, 1941 Admiral Sir Tom Spencer Vaughan Phillips was formally appointed Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet. The fleet was constituted on 3 December 1941 and was formed out of the capital ships of East Indies Squadron and the China Squadron. On 10 December, 1941 Admiral Philips whilst in command of the task force Force Z of the fleet was killed in action following a Japanese air attack on the force. Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton was made acting Admiral and assumed the post of Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet. on 5 January, 1942 preempting the fall of Singapore admiral Layton moved the Eastern Fleet to Batavia, Java in the Dutch East Indies in order to organise better convoy protection, and took Rear-Admiral Palliser with him and appointed him as Senior Naval Officer at Tanjong Priok, Batavia, until Singapore had fallen. In mid January admiral Layton moved the fleet to Trincomalee, Ceylon to make preparations to operate the fleet in the Indian Ocean from his new base. On 12 February 1942 Layton was promoted to the rank of Admiral and made Commander-in-Chief, Ceylon and was succeeded by Vice-Admiral Sir James Fownes Somerville.

During the war, it included many ships and personnel from other navies, including those of the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. As the Eastern Fleet was reaching full strength on 22 November 1944, when it was divided into two parts. Naval forces allocated to fight the Japanese in the Indian Ocean, Burma, Sumatra and Malaya were grouped together to form a new East Indies Fleet (EIF) and continued to be based in Trincomalee. The remaining forces formed the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) responsible for fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Ocean area.[2]

Fleet HQ

Map of approximate area of operations of the East Indies Station, then later Eastern Fleet, the East Indies Fleet between (1939-1958). Own Work

From 21 October 1941 to 10 December, 1941 the fleets HQ was aboard the battleship HMS Prince of Wales stationed at Singapore. On 5 January, 1942 it then moved its headquarters to Batavia, Java in the Dutch East Indies until 15 January, 1942. It then moved to Trincomalee naval base (HMS Highflyer), Ceylon until May, 1942. Because of the Japanese threat in the Indian Ocean it moved again to Kilindini naval base (HMS Tana) in Mombasa, Kenya until 1943. It finally moved to Colombo naval base (HMS Lanka), Ceylon until 1944.

Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet (1941-44)

Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet (1942-44)

Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Victor Hilary Danckwerts 27 May, 1942 – 1, March 1944.[3]

Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet (1941-44)

Captain of the Fleet, Eastern Fleet
Captain of the Fleet, Eastern Fleet
Rank Insig Name Term Ref
1 Captain RN Captain Rank Insignia.png Leonard Hamersley Bell February 1942 - October 1944
2 Captain RN Captain Rank Insignia.png Edmund Geoffrey "Bill" Abbott 16 October 1944 - 22 November 1944 [4]

Commodore Administration, Eastern Fleet (1942-44)

Commodore Administration, Eastern Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Alexander Robert Hammick 11 October 1942 – 15, September, 1944.[5]

Liaison from South East Asia Command to Fleet HQ

Deputy Naval Commander, South East Asia Command (1943-44)
Deputy Naval Commander, South East Asia Command
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Geoffrey John Audley Miles 24 October, 1943 – 7 May, 1944.[6][7]

Liaison from Eastern Fleet command to Delhi HQ

Flag Liaison Officer, Delhi (1942-43)
Flag Liaison Officer, Delhi
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur Francis Eric Palliser 8 June, 1942 – 3, June, 1943.[8]

Notes: F.L.O.D. to act as representative and as Naval Adviser to the Viceroy and to the Commander-in-Chief, India, and to be a member of the Commander-in-Chief, India’s, Joint Planning Committee. He is was stationed at RN base, Colombo, Ceylon) (for service at Delhi).

Formation Commanders under Fleet HQ

The battleship HMS Warspite, aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious and battleship HMS Resolution, Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean in 1942.

Second-in-Command, Eastern Fleet (1942-44)

Second-in-command, Eastern Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Acting Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Algernon Usborne Willis 26 February 1942 – 6 January, 1943.[9]
2 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png William George "Bill" Tennant 7 January, 1943 – 15, October, 1943. (temporary).[10]
3 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Arthur John Power 1 December, 1943 – 22 November 1944.[11]

Rear-Admiral, Eastern Fleet Aircraft Carriers (1941-44)

Rear-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers (Eastern Fleet)
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Denis William Boyd 18 February 1941 – December 1942 [12]
2 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Clement Moody 1 December 1943 – November 1944[13]

Rear-Admiral, Eastern Fleet Escort Carriers (1943-44)

Rear-Admiral, Eastern Fleet Escort Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur William La Touche Bisset 28 October 1943 –October 1944.[14][15]

Commodore Commanding, Eastern Fleet, Destroyer Flotillas (1942-1943)

Commodore Commanding, Eastern Fleet, Destroyer Flotillas
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Commodore 2nd Class Commodore 2nd class command flag RN from 1864.png S. H. T. Harliss 9 June 1942 – January, 1943.[16]

Commodore (D), Destroyer Flotillas Eastern Fleet (1944)

Commodore (D), Destroyer Flotillas Eastern Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Commodore 2nd Class Commodore 2nd class command flag RN from 1864.png Albert Lawrence Poland 1 April, 1944 – 22, November, 1944 [17]

Naval Air Stations under Fleet HQ

Rear-Admiral Naval Air Stations, Indian Ocean (1943-44)

Rear-Admiral Naval Air Stations, Indian Ocean
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur William La Touche Bisset 22 September 1942 – 20 March 1943. [18]
2 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Henry Clive Rawlings 30 April 1943 – 22 November 1944 [19]

Note: RAdm Rawlings continued in post under East Indies Fleet till July 1945.

Components under this command

Formations

Formations that were part of this fleet by date:

Name Based at Dates Assigned Notes
Force A Trincomalee March 1942 – June 1942
Force B Trincomalee/Kilindini March 1942 – June 1942
1st Battle Squadron Trincomalee March 1942 – 1942
3rd Battle Squadron Trincomalee January 1942 – November 1944
5th Cruiser Squadron Trincomalee January 1942 – November 1944
2nd Destroyer Flotilla Trincomalee August 1942 – June 1943
4th Destroyer Flotilla Trincomalee April 1943 – November 1944
7th Destroyer Flotilla Trincomalee January 1942 — November 1944
11th Destroyer Flotilla Trincomalee February 1943 – November 1944
6th Submarine Flotilla Trincomalee February – August 1944
4th Submarine Flotilla Trincomalee January 1942 – November 1944
6th Submarine Flotilla Trincomalee February – August 1944
Persian Gulf Division January 1942 – November 1944
Red Sea Division Aden February 1942 – November 1944
Aden-Bombay-Colombo Groups Aden/Bombay/Colombo 4 February 1944 – November 1944 ABC 30 escorts
Aden Escort Force Aden 4 February 1944 – November 1944 15 escorts
Ceylon Escort Force Colombo 9 January 1943 – 4 February 1944 10 escorts
Kilidini Escort Force Kilindini 4 February 1944 – November 1944 8 escorts
Royal Indian Navy Escort Forces Bombay 4 February 1944 – November 1944 8 escorts

Naval Area Sub Commands

These naval commands were responsible for a particular geographic area of responsibility including all operations and bases.

Unit In Command Date's In Command Date's Area of Responsibility
Ceylon Naval Officer in Charge, Ceylon 1942 Flag Officer, Ceylon 1943-1945 Western Indian Ocean
East Africa Flag Officer, East Africa 1942-1944 n/a n/a Eastern Indian Ocean
East Africa and Zanzibar Flag Officer, East Africa and Zanzibar 1941-1941 n/a n/a ditto
Persian Gulf Station Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf 1941-1941 n/a n/a Persian Gulf
Red Sea Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea 1941-1942 n/a n/a Red Sea
Red Sea and Canal Area Flag Officer, Commanding Red Sea and Canal Area 1942-1943 n/a n/a Red Sea

Naval Bases

Trincomalee, then Kilindini then Colombo were used as the main fleet base for Eastern Fleet at certain times. The other locations were used as refueling and operating bases.

Unit From To Ref
Aden 1941 1944
Addu Atoll 1942 1944
Colombo 1941 1944
Diego Suarez 1942 1944
Kilindini 1941 1944
Mauritius 1941 1944
Seychelles 1941 1944
Trincomalee 1941 1944

Naval Dockyards

The Eastern Fleet was supported by naval dockyards that were part of the East Indies Station they provided repair and refitting services to the fleet.

Unit From To Ref
Trincomalee Dockyard 1941 1944
Kilindini Dockyard 1941 1944

References

  1. "Records of Stations and Fleets". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Kew, Surrey, England.: National Archives UK. 1702–1969. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  2. Hobbs, David. "THE BRITISH PACIFIC FLEET IN 1945 A Commonwealth effort and a remarkable achievement" (PDF). navy.gov.au. Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
  3. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  D". www.unithistories.com. Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  4. Houterman, Hans. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  A". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  5. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  H". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  6. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  -  M". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  7. The Navy List Bimonthly. London, England: H. M. Stationery Office. February 1943. p. 2024.
  8. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  -  P". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  9. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 - W". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  10. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  T". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  11. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  P". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes.
  12. The Navy List. London, England: H. M. Stationery Office. December 1942. p. 1339.
  13. "Moody, Admiral Sir Clement, (31 May 1891–6 July 1960)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO 2020. Oxford: A & C Black and Oxford University Press. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u240932. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  14. The Navy List. London, England: H. M. Stationery Office. December 1943. p. 2021.
  15. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  B". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  16. Admiralty, British (April 1943). The Navy List Bimonthly. Flag Officers in Commission. London: H.M.S.O. p. 1498.
  17. The Navy List. London, England: H. M. Stationery Office. October 1944. p. 2263.
  18. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  B". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  19. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  R". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 2 March 2021.