During World War II, Operation Meridian was a series of British air attacks conducted on 24 January (Meridian One) and 29 January (Meridian Two) 1945 on Japanese-held oil refineries at Palembang, on Sumatra. The critical aviation fuel output of these plants was reduced by seventy-five percent.
The attacks were made by aircraft from the British Task Force 63, end route to Sydney, Australia, where it translated into the British Pacific Fleet and subsequently participated in the support of the Allied invasion of Okinawa (Operation Iceberg). Refuelling at sea was needed and this was supplied by Force 69 of the British Eastern Fleet - three escorted tankers.
TF63 left Trincomalee on 13 January 1945, for Sumatra. On 20 January, they rendezvoused with TF69 and refuelled with great difficulty because of gusting winds and a troublesome swell. The oilers complained of much gear being damaged.
The attack was finally launched at 6am on 24 January with a lack of wind making take-off more risky.
Forty-three Avenger bombers, 12 Firefly fighter-bombers with rockets and fifty Hellcat, Corsair and Seafire fighters were launched, approaching with the sun behind them and diving from 9000 feet to 3000 feet to release their bombs. Despite the presence of barrage balloons the refinery was successfully attacked. There were more losses than on previous raids and 32 aircraft were lost due to enemy action and crash landings.
The fleet refuelled again on 26–27 January. In practice, this was unsatisfactory as, with a mixture of poor weather and inexperience, damage was done to the tankers as ships failed to keep station and hoses parted.
On 29 January, the second raid, Operation Meridian Two, an air strike against the oil refinery at Soengei Gerong, Sumatra, took place. Despite poor visibility, the flying-off was delayed by less than half an hour and the air strike was made against the oil refinery. Allied aviators claimed 30 Japanese planes shot down in dog-fights and another 38 destroyed on the ground, for the loss of 16 British aircraft. A small Japanese counterattack was attempted, but was defeated by fighter cover and anti-aircraft fire.
TF 63 refueled from TF 69 for the final time on 30 January and sailed for Fremantle, Western Australia. TF 69 returned to Trincomalee.
Allied order of battle
The ships involved in Operation Meridian were:
Force 63: (Rear Admiral Philip Vian):
- aircraft carriers
- anti-aircraft cruisers:
- Destroyer Flotilla 25
- Destroyer Flotilla 27
- "Obituary:Lieutenant-Commander David Foster". Sunday Telegraph. 18 Jul 2010. Retrieved 18 Jul 2010.