1951 Japanese Surrender

1951 Japanese surrender

A group of stranded survivors of a Japanese vessel sunk by the American military found their way to the island of Anatahan, 75 nautical miles north of Saipan.

The island’s coast line is precipitous with landing beaches on the northern and western shore and a small sandy beach on the southwest shore. Its steep slopes are furrowed by deep gorges covered by high grass.

This brooding cone jutting from the sea floor is a large, extinct volcano with two peaks and a grass covered flat field, the final resting place for a B-29 Superfortress that crashed upon returning from a bombing mission over Nagoya, Japan on January 3, 1945 killing the aircraft’s crew.

Anatahan/Mariana Islands

By 1951 the Japanese holdouts on the island refused to believe that the war was over and resisted every attempt by the Navy to remove them.

This group was first discovered in February 1945, when several Chamorro from Saipan were sent to the island to recover the bodies of the Saipan based B-29, T square 42, from the 498th Bomb Group, 875th Squadron, 73rd Wing under the command of Richard Carlson Stickney, Jr.

The Chamorro reported that there were about thirty Japanese survivors from three Japanese ships sunk in June 1944, one of which was an Okinawa woman.

aerial view of Anatahan

Pamphlets had been dropped informing the holdouts that the war was over and that they should surrender, but these requests were ignored. They lived a sparse life, eating coconuts, taro, wild sugar cane, fish and lizards. They smoked crushed, dried papaya leaves wrapped in the leaves of bananas and made an intoxicating beverage known as “tuba”, (coconut wine).

They lived in palm frond huts with woven floor matting of pandanus. Their life improved after the crash of the aircraft. They used metal from the B-29 to fashion crude implements such as pots, knives and roofing for their hut. The oxygen tanks were used to store water, clothing was made from nylon parachutes, the cords used for fishing line.

Japanese soldiers surrender at Anatahan

The springs from machine guns were fashioned into fish hooks. Several in the group also had machine guns and pistols recovered from the aircraft. Personal aggravations developed as a result of being too long in close association within a small group on a small island and also because of tuba drinking. The presence of only one woman, Kazuko Higa, caused great difficulty as well. Six of eleven deaths that occurred among the holdouts were the result of violence.

One man displayed thirteen knife wounds. Ms. Higa would, from time to time, transfer her affections between at least four of the men after each mysteriously disappeared as a result of “being swallowed by the waves while fishing.”

American seamen, Anatahan

In July 1950, Ms. Higa went to the beach when an American vessel appeared off shore and asked to be removed from the island. She was taken to Saipan aboard the Miss Susie and, upon arrival, informed authorities that the men on the island did not believe the war was over.

Meanwhile, officials of the Japanese government became interested in the situation on Anatahan and asked the Navy for information “concerning the doomed and living Robinson Crusoes who were living a primitive life on an uninhabited island”, and offered to send a ship to rescue them.

The families of the Japanese holdouts on the island of Anatahan, were contacted in Japan and requested by the U. S. Navy to write letters advising them that the war was over and that they should surrender.

Japanese say goodbye to Anatahan

In January 1951, a message from the Governor of Kanagawa Prefecture was delivered. The letters were dropped by air on June 26 and finally convinced the holdouts that they should give themselves up.

Thus, six years after the end of World War II, “Operation Removal” got underway from Saipan under the Command of James B. Johnson, USNR, aboard the Navy Tug USS Cocopa. Lt. Commander James B. Johnson and Mr. Ken Akatani, an interpreter, went ashore by rubber boat and formally accepted the last surrender of World War II on the morning of June 30, 1951 which also coincided with the last day of the Naval Administration of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

Click on images to enlarge.

From: AR Gunners.com By Pierre Kosmidis

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Military Humor –

One of Murphy’s Laws

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Farewell Salutes –

Dorothy (Carter) Ahearn – Detroit, MI; Civilian, Red Cross, WWII, ETO

Hazel Boyas – North Royalton, OH; Civilian, WWII, drill press operator

Edward Cowen Sr. – Gadsden County, FL; US Army, WWII & Korea

Robert Lents – Bridgewater, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Perch, POW, Chief torpedoman, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Renee (Lupton) Rattet – New Beford, MA; US Army WAC, WWII

Gary Myers – Grand Lake, CO; US Army, Vietnam, 8/1st Air Cavalry Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Charlie Pride – Sledge, MS; US Army  /  Country singer

Matthew A. Reluga (101) – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, rifleman/Intelligence, Silver Star, 5 Bronze Stars

Lyle Tefft – Lawrence, KS; US Navy, USS Bandera

Robert W. Young – Lewistown, MT; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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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 December 14, 2020, in Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 132 Comments.

  1. I’m amazed the woman didn’t become pregnant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This has always been such a fascinating chapter in that war…It speaks to the dedication and loyalty of soldiers in general… Did anyone ever follow up on those Japanese soldiers to see how they adapted after being brought back to the world?

    Liked by 1 person

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