General Yamashita

Gen. Robert Eichelberger

From:  “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichleberger

Although negotiations with Yamashita for surrender were completed after 8th Army had relinquished control of Luzon, the story should be told here.  It must be remembered that Japanese forces at this period had little or no communication with the homeland.

On 7 August – the day of the fall of the first atomic bomb – an America pilot was forced to abandon his disabled plane and parachute behind the Japanese lines in northern Luzon.  He was picked up by an enemy patrol the next morning and taken after 5 days of forced marches to Gen. Yamashita’s headquarters, then SW of Kiangan.

There he was subjected to vigorous and prolonged interrogation.  He was threatened with physical violence when he steadfastly refused to answer questions.

Gen. Yamashita

On 16 Aug – the attitude of the Japanese interrogators abruptly changed.  The pilot received medical treatment for his parachute-jump injuries and was extended many small courtesies.  The next day the American was guided toward American lines; when the Japanese soldiers had gone as far as they dared, they gave the flier a letter, written by Yamashita himself, which explained the circumstances of the pilot’s capture and commended him for his military spirit and devotion to duty.

On 24 August – the same pilot flew an L-5 liaison plane over the area in which he had been held and dropped a message of thanks to Gen. Yamashita, along with 2 signal panels.  The message, written by Gen. Gill of the 32nd Division, suggested that if Yamashita were in the mood for surrender negotiations he should display the 2 panels as evidence of his willingness to parley.

The following morning another pilot found the panels staked out according to instructions; also on the ground were many cheering, hand-waving Japanese soldiers, who beckoned the plane to land.  Instead, a second message was dropped.  It suggested that Yamashita send an envoy to the American lines to received detailed instructions for his surrender.

Late in the afternoon of 26 August, a Japanese captain, carrying Yamashita’s answer, entered the American lines under a flag of truce.  The letter, which was written in English, was as follows:

Ge. Yamashita

GENERAL HEADQUARTERS, IMPERIAL JAPANESE ARMY IN THE PHILIPPINES

August 25, 1945

TO: GENERAL W.H. GILL, COMMANDING GENERAL KIANGAN-BOYOMBONG AREA, UNITED STATES ARMY IN THE PHILIPPINES

  1.  I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your communication addressed to me, dropped by your airplane on Aug. 24th as well as your papers dropped on Aug. 25th in response to our ground signals.

2.  I am taking this opportunity to convey to you that order from Imperial Headquarters pertaining to cessation of hostilities was duly received by me on Aug. 20th and that I have immediately issued orders to cease hostilities to all units under my command insofar as communications were possible.

I also wish to add this point the expression of my heartfelt gratitude to you, full cognizant of the sincere efforts and deep concern you have continuously shown with reference to cessation of hostilities as evidenced by various steps and measures you have taken in this connection.

To date however, I have failed to receive order from Imperial Headquarters authorizing me to enter into direct negotiations here in the Philippines with the United States Army…, but I am of the fond belief that upon receipt of this order, negotiations ca be immediately entered into.  Presenting my compliments and thanking you for your courteous letter, I remain, yours respectively,

/s/Tomoyuki Yamashita, General, Imperial Japanese Army, Highest Commander of the Imperial Japanese Army in the Philippines

circa 1956: The samurai sword of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, ‘the Tiger of Malaya’, commander of the Japanese troops in the Philippines during World War II. It rests on the Philippine Surrender Document, signed at Baguio, Luzon on September 3rd, 1945. (Photo by Orlando /Three Lions/Getty Images)

This message was the first in a series exchanged between Yamashita and Gen. Gill.  The exquisite courtesy of the exchanges probably has for the average reader something of the quality of ‘Through the Looking-Glass’.

To be continued…….

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Coyne – St. Paul, MN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Margaret Bergthold – Lookeba, OK; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

George Gaw – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, Bimini Island, 53rd SeaBee Batt. / USMC, Korea

Desmond Hyland – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 421274, WWII, Mosquito pilot

Ben Jenik – KS; US Army Air Corps, Sgt., 93rd Supply Squadron/490 Bomb Group

Tom Montalbana – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Harry Shakes – Winter Park, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. Major (Ret. 30 y.), 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Stephen St. Laurent – Portland, ME; US Army, Vietnam

Phyllis Tatel – Boston, MA; USO, WWII

William Webb Sr. – Columbus, GA; US Army, WWII

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About GP Cox

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

Posted on February 11, 2019, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 129 Comments.

  1. What an incredible letter!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another good reason why I keep email posts from friends, I had not read the actual circumstances around the surrender of the Philippines gp.
    Informative and interesting as usual mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Smitty must’ve scared him out of his wits… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoyed this post very much, GP. Thank you!

    Derrick J. Knight posted he has just lost his oldest son Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear God. I shot right over to Derrick’s site and left a comment, although I am not very good with words at such a time. Tomorrow would have been my Michael’s 47th birthday, he has been gone for 27 years and I still think of him everyday and the hole still hurts, so I know there’s nothing I can do for him, Jackie and the their family. But I tried. Thank you for letting me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. GP you devil… 😉 I was caught up in this, waiting to see how it played out. Then you gave me a dose of my own cliffhanger medicine. LOL.
    Yes, unfortunately I agree that this kind of courtesy has become scarce to the point of seeming like the stuff of fantasy stories… People in DC are (for the most part) horrible that way. Once I stumbled on an escalator. Rather than helping me get my balance, a business man pushed me aside, nearly knocking me back down.
    Or the very large man at the main campus of my agency who knocked my shoulder with his body as he walked past me and said “Excuse you,” in a very snarky voice. Or the dozens who may have seen you 100 times at work, but alone in an elevator, if you say “hello” just glare silently at you in return.
    Yes, it does seem to have gone through the looking glass.
    Hugs.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I just can’t understand the utter lack of common courtesy. Is it really that difficult to have manners. I have been known to tell people that bump into – “well, if I get in your way, just knock me over, eh?” I get the strangest looks – like they can’t figure out my sarcasm. I think these days a lot of people become far educated beyond their intelligence!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ve seen far too many be promoted or advanced just because they fit in one box or another (for whatever brownie points, or cronyism). They don’t have to learn any skills, including basic communications or common courtesy…
        I admit it was infuriating for that guy to (I believe intentionally) bump me like that, and then tell me “Excuse you.”
        I stand up for myself (and people hate that), but he kept going. His legs were longer than mine, and I didn’t want to miss my shuttle bus. I really wanted to go after him. But I also known it would have been foolish…

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have read what I assume was an eyewitness account of Yamashita taking the surrender of Singapore from General Perceval in 1942. He was far less amenable that day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ya gotta admit, that’s human. How would you be? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • I found the article that way my source. Very long read, I’ll quote here the surrender as described.

        …Sugita retorted that Yamashita would not grant a cease-fire until Percival had signed the surrender. Yamashita did not want to be deceived. Newbigging and Sugita agreed that Percival would come to the Ford factory at Bukit Timah at 5:15 pm with Newbigging, Brigadier K.S. Torrance, and an interpreter, Major Cyril Wild.

        At 5 pm, as Japanese newsreel and still cameras ground and clicked, Percival and his three officers shuffled up Bukit Timah Road in their tin hats. Wild carried the white flag. Sugita and interpreter Lieutenant Hishikara escorted the four Britons into the Ford Motor Company factory, where they sat awaiting Yamashita’s arrival.

        Yamashita was blunt: “The Japanese Army will consider nothing but unconditional surrender.” Aware that he was down to the last of his artillery ammunition, Yamashita was relying on his ferocious personality and bluff to browbeat Percival into surrendering. “Under no circumstances can we tolerate further British resistance.”

        Percival asked for a cease-fire in two hours, at 7:15 pm. Yamashita agreed, then handed over a document of surrender. Percival started reading it and said, “Will you give me until tomorrow morning?”

        Yamashita replied angrily, “If you don’t sign now we shall go on fighting. All I want to know is: do you surrender unconditionally or not?”

        Percival went pale and started talking to the interpreter quietly. Yamashita, who later said he was not yelling at Percival but was really angry with the interpreter, who was fired after the ceremony, pointed his finger and shouted, “Yes or no?”

        Percival looked at Hishikari and said, with bowed head and faint voice, “Yes.”…

        The full text is here.
        https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/the-fall-of-malaya-japanese-blitzkrieg-on-singapore/

        Liked by 1 person

        • To their minds, the British had colonized and stolen resources enough in that part of the world. From their point of view, the British were intruding. As the victor, he had to be firm and demand respect. I think I’ve read that article in the link, but I’ll get to that now. Thank you for adding this in. I never really covered Yamashita in the CBI.

          Liked by 1 person

    • With your articles, I am having a glimpse of what my country was during the Second World War. Filipinos are familiar with Yamashita but not much as to his real persona. Thank you! I will be reading more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was amazed at how well written and formal the letter was by the Japanese general. Rather impressive!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is fascinating , GP! I am learning so much history from you that I have never been exposed to before – thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I see Gen Yamashita was hanged by the US for was crimes in 1946, so much for my thinking he was old school

    Liked by 2 people

  10. nice letter!
    when there’s
    a next time,
    hope it’s
    written
    sooner 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Harry Shakes – Winter Park, FL another glutton for punishment. WWII, a D.Day Vet, Korean War & Vietnam. I noticed he was born in Cuba klved in Jamaica, before moving to the US. Reading his obit, it seems to read, that he became an American citizen, AFTER the war. Which strikes me a strange. there is no mention of what his parents were, He was Cuban by birth but the name seems Anglo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Obviously Gen Yamashita was an officer of the old school; I wonder did he perhaps in his youth have training in the USA or England? I’m going to have a look see what I can find out about him. Thanks GP

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great writing. It’s an area of history we never hear about.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. This post about General Yamashita brings to mind one, Major John Andre, of the British Army during the American Revolution. Though, not in all respects, there still appears to be similar circumstances. The betrayal aspects for one, where war crimes appear to have been committed, but by those under him and without his knowledge. The trial being yet another along with his own dignified conduct displayed at the gallows. History does seem to repeat itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you GP! There is so much i’d never heared before i found your blog. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • My pleasure, Michael. Whenever I hear someone mentioning WWII, it is normally about the ETO. The only time you generally hear about the Pacific, it is the major battles of the USMC. Although they deserve attention, that isn’t all that went on. Sort of like when the ETO is mentioned, you rarely hear about Africa or the Middle East. (at least that’s how it is here).

      Like

  16. Will you be writing about Yamashita trial, next? I looked him up on Wikipedia was rather dismayed at what happened next.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. The level of formality of the letter says a lot about the intelligence and respect commanded by Yamahita, to both his men and his adversaries.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Some people I trust, some I respect, others I would never turn my back on. How far below the surface of the modern Japanese lurks the Samurai?

    If such a statement makes me a racist: I am a racist.

    There’s much about Jap culture I deeply respect and admire … but …

    Liked by 1 person

  19. It never ceases to amaze how polite bullies can be if you kick their teeth in.

    Like

  20. I suppose that somebody somewhere will have had a scarier penfriend, but I do wonder who it would have been. Al Capone? Freddy Krueger?

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Waiting for the next part. Was this general in charge the Bataan Death March and imprisonment? If so…

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Great story GP. Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. What a remarkable story! Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. During my tour along the DMZ in Vietnam, we marines hated the NVA with a vengeance. Basically, no quarter was shown by either side, even though we were supposed to take prisoners if the chance presented itself. But after finding one of your fellow marines who was killed execution-style (hands bound behind back, shot through the back of his skull), those orders were rarely obeyed. It took many years of healing and maturing before I came to the realization that the NVA were fighting for their people and to unite their country. War is such a sad thing. Today I hold no animosity at all for the Vietnamese people, only respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Yamashita was quite a warrior. Good post as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. This seems to follow in the tradition of ‘mutual respect’ that was often practiced by some Japanese troops, once they had to admit defeat. Of course, there were equally as many who hated the surrender, and never reconciled to that same defeat. Yamashita’s men will have been grateful that he spared them a pointless death, right at the end.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. What an astounding story, I knew nothing of that from my reading, and what a great way to end that theatre’s conflict.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Stories of humanity within the context of war are always especially meaningful.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. It is heart-warming to know that even in the worst scenarios of war there are people with character, like the Japanese general Yamashita, who do not let you lose faith in humanity. Looking forward to reading the rest of the story. Great post, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Certainly an air of unreality – as they all must have been experiencing at that time

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Reading this is difficult in an age of instant worldwide communication. It’s easy enough to imagine for me, who started out with a party line and needing the operator to place certain calls. I can only imagine how someone in their 20s or even 30s thinks about this.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. I didn’t know this story about Yamashita and his treatment about the American flier. I wonder if he suspected what would happen to him after the formal surrender at USS Missouri and tried to lessen the blow of what was to follow.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Fascinating story. Look forward to more.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Despite the difficulties in communicating at the time, there’s also something to be said for the directness of communicating via signal panels and envoy-carried letter. Of course there were ways to disrupt, and certainly there were those early ‘hackers’ we know as code-breakers, but still: there are times when a just slightly slower pace allowed for a little more thought, and I suspect General Yamashita was doing some thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Something remarkable in the respect and dignity of their correspondence. Having the upper hand, I suppose the Americans didn’t worry about anyone pulling any punches.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. It’s hard to square the sensitivity and obvious intelligence of Yamashita’s letter, with the brutality shown by Japanese troops in the Philippines.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The brutality of war changes a person, especially when you don’t expect to ever go home again. Some Japanese soldiers killed themselves rather than face their family again after all they saw and did. They were soldiers following orders and also deathly afraid of their own superiors.

      Liked by 2 people

  37. Fascinating. I remember the last Japanese soldier to get the word of the surrender but had never thought about Japan’s [and the U.S] problem of communicating the surrender to the Japanese in the field, even including those in higher commands.

    Liked by 2 people

  1. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER REPORT: General Yamashita – Conclusion – By Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports | ' Ace Worldwide History '

  2. Pingback: FEATURED BLOGGER REPORT: General Yamashita By Pacific Paratrooper #AceHistoryDesk reports | ' Ace Worldwide History '

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