Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Attack On HMS Indefatigable - April 1st 1945 Surgeon Lt. Alan McCarthy Vaughan (Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve) Alan Vaughan enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1941. He had been a medical student at the University of Toronto, raising his university tuition by creating and operating a summer camp for boys. He interned at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children. In 1945 Dr. Alan Vaughan was serving as a Surgeon Lieutenant aboard HMS Indefatigable in the Pacific. The aircraft carrier was part of the British Pacific Fleet, assigned to neutralize the enemy airfields in the Sakishima Gunto. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945 the fleet carriers hadflown off their first fighter strike when enemy aircraft were detected by radar seventy-five miles to the eastward, closing in on the fleet at 210 knots at a height of 8000 feet. The fighter sweep was ordered to intercept the enemy and more fighters were flown off. Low cloud and consequent poor visibility gave initial advantage to the Japanese, who split their formation some 40 miles from the fleet. Four were shot down by fighters before the attack began. The ships were firing at the enemy aircraft when a Kamikaze bomber carrying a 250-kilogram bomb came out of the clouds and attacked HMS Indefatigable. The plane crashed across the carrier flight deck. Dr. Alan Vaughan was in Sick bay, located at the base of the superstructure on the main carrier deck, where the plane and bomb exploded. Four officers and ten ratings were killed and sixteen others were wounded. Among the dead was the twenty-nine year-old Vaughan. He had died from the concussion of the bomb. HMS Indefatigable was the first ship of the British Pacific Fleet to come under kamikaze attack. The ship was relatively unscathed because of the armoured deck. The attack left only a slight dip in the flight deck and once smoothed out with cement the carrier was operational again after five hours Alan Vaughan known as “Beefy” to his friends, “Doc Vaughan” to the crew was one of a kind. Following Dr. Vaughan’s death, the Captain of HSM Indefatigable requested condolence letters from the crew, and received some three hundred replies. In one of the letters, the story is told of a jungle-training trip ashore in Ceylon. Dr. Vaughan had volunteered after an airman dropped out due to illness. Initial scepticism of an officer who would lower himself to such gruelling duty soon faded. At first, Vaughan, a large, perspiring, cheerful character with a soft Canadian drawl seemed out of place in the jungle. However, he left a lasting impression when he volunteered to cook and clean at the campsite, and managed to match the airmen's pace as well as their constant taunts. The letters were forwarded to Dr. Vaughan's family in Toronto. Dr. Alan Vaughan was the son of Joseph M. and Margaret S. Vaughan, of Toronto, Ontario. [The story of Canadian Dr. Alan Vaughan was first related to Wartime Heritage by Bill West, Telegraphist Air Gunner who served with 820 Squadron on HMS Indefatigable]
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HMS Indefatigable
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Attack On HMS Indefatigable April 1st 1945