PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

Click on images to enlarge.

############################################################################################

Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

##############################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force # 428761, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

############################################################################################

About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 16, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. Please check out http://www.arshiavora.com

    Beg you, I need some feedback, I’m only 13. . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting reading gp, obviously VE Day at home was a far cry from VE Day for those still on active service in the war zones, on reflection this is to be accepted as all wars go through a mopping up stage and reorganization stage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That picture certainly showed how those men felt about V-E Day. When is a war really over?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t find any reference toJames Mclean of the RAAF serving with the 83rd Squadron going through the records of that squad at http://www.156squadron.com/display_newpff_roll.asp?ID=83

    There are several James McLean’s in the RAAf who served with the RAF mostly flt/off’s but I couldn’t find this bloke, pity as I like to go read their obits and read their history and wartime achievements

    It’s a sad picture shows the name rank and serial number and fate of every member, most of them killed and all so very young.

    Like

  5. It surely must have been a time of mixed feelings but ultimately there must have been more hope that the entire war would be over soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure. The guys in the Pacific were happy for their fellow military, but they had a war to fight and hoped this meant that they would finally get the replacements and supplies that they had been doing without for so long.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes Hitler was beaten – and that was a monumental achievement.(Understatement) But I really can’t imagine thinking that things were finished – until the Japanese were dealt with? Did everybody just think they could go home??
    I’d have a coffee and a cig. Maybe a glass of wine. Then expect to finish the job. After all we couldn’t have beat Hitler with the Yanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It must have been a bittersweet moment for the troops still left at war … your father’s sage words say it all! I’ve never realised before that the troops in Asia would have made do with far less in order for the war in Europe to be won. Hard decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t hard for FDR. Churchill was on his back every day to enter the war and most people in the US associated with Europe rather than Asia and islands they never heard of.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I wonder if there was any shift in Japan’s strategy after VE? By then they mush have know that the war was basically over for them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It wasn’t that they didn’t know they where defeated, but how to get out of the war on the best terms they thought they could get.

      There is plenty of documentation on the Japanese Peace feelers including intercepts by the Allies from Tokyo too Moscow.

      We can’t know what would have happened if the peace overtures had been followed up but the Japanese where definitely looking for a way to end the war prior to the dropping of the bombs.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s is very interesting. I always had the impressing (albeit wrong impression) that the Japanese’s military was intransigent to the idea of negotiating peace.

        There is a strong moral objection about the dropping of the Bomb on the ground of “just war theory”…I must admit that I haven’t given it any serious thoughts…do you have an opinion or any references?

        Again, thank you for all you do to keep the memory alive of those who gave everything so that we may have all the freedoms that we do…It is a great and important job!

        Caleb

        Liked by 1 person

        • Caleb, I feel it’s the least I can do for these troops!!
          I have shared my opinion of the bomb droppings on many occassions, It was done to justify the billions of dollars spent secretly (Congress unaware, even Truman knew nothing until he became Pres.). But looking back on it, it probably saved my father’s life because DC wasn’t telling the military about the peace being offered. (short version of my opinion.)
          As far as resources go, you’ll have to check in the Library YTD which can be found by using the Search bar located at the top-right of each post page. This is a debate still going on today and is mentioned in most every book! Now that I think of it, I need to update that library with my latest acquisitions!! Yikes! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  9. From my recollections at the young age at the time, and from what I heard from older members of the family later, there wasn’t any due appreciation of the task still at hand. Everyone acted as if the match was won completely and over, and there was wild jubilation.

    The part that closely concerned us here was in fact over, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Those in the Pacific drew the short straw

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I think that they would have had a lot of trouble making men who had gone from D-Day to the Danish border going to fight the Japanese. The best contribution from the ETO would have been to send all of the submarines to starve the Japanese out and save lives that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Japan had saved quite a bit of supplies for their military and protecting their homeland underground. In the plans for Operations Downfall and Coronet approximately 2 million men were needed – that accounts for a heck of a lot of ordnance. The military operated on last one in – last one out, plus I read a few accounts where officers were told to “get rid” of their trouble makers and slackers by transferring them. I do believe the Japanese would have starved rather than surrendered, that would have given their conquerors no country to gloat over.

      Like

  12. The whole shebang where mother worked, making radios for the resistance in Europe, was packing up immediately after VE Day, to be transferred to Australia to continue the job. They were assembled outside the building to be addressed by a Free ‘French General…not de Gaulle…who thanked them for their services and seemed to kiss a great many of them. But no sooner were they organised for the move than it was cancelled….the end in the Pacific was in sight.
    She and her friends were given leave to join in the celebrations in London but she remembers so many who had husbands, brothers and boyfriends in Burma who were sick with worry that they would be killed in what seemed, to them, to be the end of the World War.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for bringing me your mother’s recollections, Helen. Always good to have another first-hand account. I find it strange though that your mother was told that the Pacific was nearly over. The Operations Downfall and Coronet, invasions of Japan were planned for November – that was 6 months away, and who knew how long that would have lasted.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Well written, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This reminds me of the capture of Saddam Hussein: “They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.” There certainly were people who felt it would have been better had he gone the way of Hitler. There are other examples, of course.

    I suspect there wasn’t much true celebrating in the Pacific theater at V-E day, simply because they did have to keep slogging along. It wasn’t that they weren’t happy; it was that they couldn’t allow themselves to give way to the envy and depression that surely would have been part of too great a focus on what was happening elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I once asked my friend Dan what his reaction was on V-E, since he fought in the ETO. He shrugged and said he didn’t remember much. I asked how that was possible. And he smiled and said, “someone brought a truck load of wine. That’s the last thing I remember.” LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. While the news from Europe didn’t surprise the 312th Bomb Group, it did boost the morale of the men in the unit. Men in the 43rd Bomb Group were glad to hear about the surrender, but still quite preoccupied with their missions.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I read this history with great interest. My son is a LTJG Navy nurse stationed in Okinawa. He will soon be deployed to Kandahar for 9 months. Mixed feelings for this dad — pride and apprehension. My dad was a bombardier in the Army Air Forces (1940’s). A training crash kept him from going overseas.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I keep saying it, excellent, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. As a combat veteran myself, I can imagine the soldiers, sailors, and Marines still fight in the Pacific having mixed feelings. It would be “Good for them!” as those fighting in the European Theater were, for the most part, finished with combat. But there had to gb a touch of envy or remorse knowing that their war still raged with (at the time) no real end in sight. Can’t blame them for that.
    –Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I imagine there were such mixed emotions. Some ecstatic saying it’s over while others were wondering how much longer. 😔

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I imagine everyone was war weary.

    Like

  22. Some of the vets I spoke to in the sixties said that in some ways the war never really ended for them, it was hard to let go the feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer.” A great sentiment but men fighting in the Pacific still had a lot to do to defeat the Japanese. They sacrificed a lot so the ETO boys could have more men and supplies. To a lot of them, VE Day was not worth celebrating because their war was still on.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I’ve often wondered about this. It must have been so bittersweet for your dad and those with him to know that part of the war had ended, but theirs nevertheless lingered on with much death and destruction ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. They had about 100 days to go, and none of them were easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. My Mum celebrated VE Day in London by going out and dancing with soldiers in the streets.
    At the same time, my Dad was still in India, facing the possibility that they would embark to join in the invasion of Japan. He didn’t get home until late 1946, and they married the following year..
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I can totally see the troops just shrug…kind of like when I was in Iraq someone said the guys in Afghanistan have it hard and most of the guys just shrugged

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thanx for helping me keep up with the war deaths….much appreciated….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day //PacificParatrooper | ' Ace Worldwide History '

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: