11th Airborne Division’s End of WWII Honor – part (1)

Jeep stockpile

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles, but soon they would be minus the 11th Airborne Division.  MacArthur had decided the 11th would be the first to land in Japan, with the 187th Regiment leading off.

General Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan as the first conquerors in 2000 years, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture.

Western Electric ad 1945

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.”

In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty.  Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them.

Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific and South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

General Joseph Swing
[On the back of this photo. Smitty wrote, “My General”]

During the initial meeting, the Japanese were instructed to have 400 trucks and 100 sedans at Atsugi Airfield in readiness to receive the 11th Airborne. This caused much concern with the dignitaries. Atsugi had been a training base for kamikaze pilots and many of them were refusing to surrender. There were also 300,000 well-trained troops on the Kanto Plain of Tokyo, so MacArthur moved the landing for the 11th A/B to the 28th of August; five days later than originally planned.

There was much discussion as to whether or not the 11th Airborne would fly into Japan or parachute down. Troopers tried jumping from the B-24s on the island, but it proved to be an awkward plane for that purpose. To carry the men to Japan and then return was impossible for the C-46, therefore C-54s were brought in from around the world and crammed onto the island.

11th Airborne Honor Guard, 9/2/1945

GHQ ordered General Swing to form an honor guard company for General MacArthur. Captain Glen Carter of the 187th regiment became the company commander. Every man was required to be 5′ 11″ or taller.

18-20 August, the Soviet army overran the Kwantung Army in central Manchuria, taking three cities in three days. They continued south in the quickest campaign of Soviet history, killing 80,000 Japanese.

28 August was to be the intended date for U.S. arrival in Japan, but two typhoons put a snafu on the trooper’s strategies. My father recalled, during their prolonged stay on the island, meeting some of the 509th Bomber Group. They did not wish to be known in Japan as those that dropped the A-bomb.  What they had witnessed through their goggles seemed to be a nightmare straight out of “Buck Rogers. The airmen requested an 11th A/B patch to sew over their own before entering Japan.  Smitty said he gave away a lot of patches;  he felt they were just men who carried out their orders.

Asugi Airfield 1945

The Emperor was wary of any fanatical emotions that might still be lingering within the kamikaze pilots. Therefore, he sent his brother, Prince Takamatsu, with a team to dismantle the propellers from their planes to prevent any “heroics” from occurring before MacArthur’s plane, the Bataan, was scheduled to land. The previously all-powerful Japanese Army had had such control over the country for so long that these precautions had to be fulfilled to ensure a peaceful occupation. This was all carried out while the Emperor still believed he would be executed as a war criminal.

28 August 1945, Japanese officers signed the surrender documents in Rangoon to finalize Japan’s defeat in Burma. On islands throughout the Pacific, enemy troops surrendered in droves to American and British authorities in the following days. Most of the men were malnourished and ill.

THE JAPANESE SURRENDER IN BURMA, 1945 (SE 4821) Brigadier E F E Armstrong of British 12th Army staff signs the surrender document at Rangoon on behalf of the Allies. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205208318

30 August, due to the latest typhoon, the first plane carrying the 11th A/B does not leave Okinawa until this date. Colonel John Lackey lifted off Kadena Airfield at 0100 hours with General Swing on board. The 187th regiment, upon arriving at Atsugi Airfield (just outside Tokyo), after their seven hour flight, immediately surrounded the area and the Emperor’s Summer Palace to form a perimeter. The 3d battalion of the 188th regiment, the honor guard and the band showed up to prepare for MacArthur’s arrival.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joshua Braica – Sacramento, CA; USMC, SSgt., 1st Marine Raider Battalion, KIA

Keith Cousins – New South Wales, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, 212 RAF, 458,43 & 34th Squadrons

William Dyer – Westbrook, ME; US Army, WWII

Hans Kappel – Sunnyside, NY; US Army, Korea, 3rd Infantry Division

Francis Lynch – Appleton, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division & 25th Infantry Division

Hug C. McDowell – Washington D.C. – USMC, Lt., 1st Light Armored Recon Battalion/1st Marine Division, KIA

Norman Nolan – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, gunner/Korea, USS Incredible, (Ret. 20 y.)

Robert Ramsey – Falling Rock, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Purple Heart

Herman Smith – MS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Samuel Zambori – Mount Sterling, OH; US Navy, 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 May 13, 2019, in SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 79 Comments.

  1. The name Keith Cousins in your Farewell Salutes rang a bell GP, he was a good bloke, still actively involved with his old squadron into his 90s,quite a lot about this man on the ‘net for those Aussies that follow your posts which will interest them

    Liked by 1 person

    • And I hope they feel free to contribute any story or fact that I missed (because there should be plenty). My readers, like yourself, are what make this blog!!

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  2. i wonder too, that though true to military process were in check, that even so, their emotions were riding high gien the occassion.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well worth reading gp, many untold story’s still remain about the acceptance of Nazi’s at the conclusion of the war by South America, particularly Chile.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another excellent window into the times. TY

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Even in victory, the logistics are still mind boggling. The photos are amazing. Well done as always, GP.
    Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Nothing is ever simple with the WW2 Japanese. At least none of the Germans carried on fighting as far as I am aware, although there were a good few suicides.
    The problem with a lot of the Allied forces though, was that after a few days of peace, accidents started killing people. Overturned jeeps. Landings and take offs in poor weather. And so on. How dreadful to come through a war like that and then die in an accident.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That does seem to be a waste. But after reading a little on the air lifts and speed with which they had to react to the Russian actions, it must have seemed a bit like the war to them.

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  7. The little details are as fascinating as the grand plans were impressive. I grinned when I saw the honor guard guys were to be at least 5’11”. I presume that’s because the Japanese people are, for the most part, smaller in stature, so a tall honor guard would be even more impressive.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. My dad was in the 187th and told of an experience after they had set up the perimeter around Atsugi airfield. Just before Gen. MacArthur was to land they were ordered to assemble in a large hanger for an inspection (dad said he thought for sure this is when the Japanese would attack or fire artillery taking out a good portion of the 187th). During this inspection an officer was handed an M3 grease gun and while inspecting the weapon shot the trooper next to him in the head killing him. Dad was there until Nov. 1945 and said he was never aware of any fanatical J
    apanese actions.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had not heard that story, but thank you for bringing it to me. How exciting to have a story from another ‘child of the 187th’, please continue to add any more from your father that you recall. My father, Smitty, said the same. He saw no fanatical actions either, but how could they be sure sitting on Okinawa? Do you know your father’s company? Thank you for coming by – stop in anytime!!

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  9. the photos are so interesting

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Knappe post over de overgave van de Japanners..Een beetje geluk mag men wel hebben

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I attended 3-5th grade on Okinawa, 1955-57. Memory of the war was fresh. I learned a lot of the history, and we boys enjoyed hunting for war trophies in the boondocks.

    Fighting there was so costly, 96 thousand Japanese soldiers, 20 thousand Okinawan conscripts; almost 20 thousand Americans from all causes. I know those figures played in discussions about the morality of dropping the A bomb. So if greater loss of life was the concern, I’m sure we made the better choice—more deaths on Okinawa than from the two bombs.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure it was the best decision in the long run. Only I have my doubts about the real reason Truman made that choice. I was a costly war – all the way around. Thank you for stopping by to give us your personal story from Okinawa – always welcome! My readers’ participation here has so grandly made this post their own and I appreciate every one of them!!

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  12. I recently watched a movie called Emperor, which I thought would be about what happened when McArthur (Tommy lee Jones played him) took his occupation force to Japan. Unfortunatley the movie concentrated too much on a romance between General Bonner Fellers & a Japanese girl he’d met previously, and so was disappointingly lacking. Much better information here! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Bravo for these posts!

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Keep the stories coming! Just jumping in again, GP, life has been in the fast lane here with much going on. Michael’s tree has come through the winter beautifully. I can’t believe summer will be here in another 6 weeks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great News, Lavinia!! Oh, summer sure has already been here! We’ve had the AC on for about a month already and plenty of afternoon showers! Thanks for stopping by on your journey through Blogsville!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I did hit a snag here recently. Fell and hit my head and injured my left wrist. I am OK. The left eye is still a little discolored, but the wrist swelling and discoloration have gone way down and I was able to play a little guitar today. I will be OK. All I have to do is think about what my father and other soldiers went through during the war. Small injuries pale by comparison.

        Liked by 1 person

        • That doesn’t sound like a minor injury you received, Lavinia. I certainly hope you take good care of yourself from now on!! I am very glad you’re healing well.

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  15. An excellent recap of events around the Japanese surrender.Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. It’s amazing the behind the scenes stuff that was going on. My neighbor arrived in Germany jsut in time for their surrender, and so now he was stuck with winning the peace. According to him, that was interesting to say the least. I wonder if we’ll ever see a book on winning the peace in those two countries and how tough that was.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. The invasion of Japan would have been a nightmare, thankfully it didn’t have to happen. The thought of dropping Airborne Divisions behind Japanese lines is particularly sobering.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. The men were wise not to trust that all would go smoothly

    Liked by 1 person

  19. There is a psychological effect about people’s height. Taller people seems to command superiority and I’m sure that was what it was intended for. 5″11″ caught my eyes right away.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Smitty was 5’10” so he wasn’t on it, but according to him – your explanation is the exact reason for the requirement.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s really not fair for short people which most Asians are and some Americans too. That really hurts for your father with just an inch short of the requirement. To me though, 5’10” is not really short. He was still a tall guy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The height requirement for the Honor Guard to create an imposing wall of protection at the Missouri signing; they had no idea if there would be trouble or not during capitulation. Smitty didn’t seem to look disappointed at being left out.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Most of MacArthur’s staff were worried about his safety but MacArthur was not. He was convinced that if the Emperor ordered his armed forces to lay down their arms, they would obey his order and treat the victor with respect and ensure their safety.

            Liked by 1 person

    • There’s a minimum height requirement for MPs, and that’s because we had to have that air of authority. Even the female MPs were taller than most. I had a female partner who was almost as all as me (I’m 6 ft. 6). Oddly, guys would cross me before they would her. I guess a tall guy they can handle. A tall girl, well that’s something else.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. This is fascinating. We rarely think about what happens after the surrender is given and the treaty signed. I look forward to the next installment.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Regarding the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, it is truly amazing how quickly a former ally turned into an enemy of the United States. At the time of the invasion of Manchuria, all of Eastern Europe was already in the grip of the Soviet Union. A great read on the end of WW2, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I agree with you’re reply to the above comment, I’m not sure I’d be here had the invasion been necessary. I know very little about the occupation. It doesn’t surprise me that MacArthur’s first concern would be for an honor guard. I guess he deserved it, but…

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Fantastic Read as usual GP.

    A great book about The Planned Invasion of Japan is Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire by Richard B. Frank.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. A very interesting post to read. Sort of personalised too .. my dad was a Coldstream Guardsman in WW2, survived Dunkirk but thankfully didn’t return on D Day as he was stationed on Ack Ack battery duty.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Great background to the surrender and occupation plans, GP. Looking forward to part 2.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. so much planning and what was going on behind the scenes is so interesting to hear about. so many things to take into consideration and balance.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can’t imagine all that actually went on to plan to the largest invasion in the history of the world – it would have dwarfed D-Day. If the surrenders were over a huge territory – more chaos to be organized.
      Thanks for stopping in today!!

      Liked by 1 person

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