11th Airborne and the end of WWII / part one

Jeeps on Okinawa

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.

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.

Gen. Joseph May Swing
(on the reverse side 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 Recon Battalion Honor Guard, USS Missouri 9/2/45

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.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo W. Arsenault – Exeter, NH; US Army, Vietnam, CSgt., Major (Ret. 22 y.), Bronze Star

Ray E. Ball – Newnan, GA; Korea & Vietnam, LTC (Ret. 23 Y.)

Claire Behlings – Milwaukee, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 33rd Infantry & 11th Airborne Division

John M. Carroll – NY, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt.,328 BS/93BG/9th Air Force, B-24 radio operator, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Wayne L. Dyer – Hobart, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt., B-17 navigator, 390BG/8th Air Force, KIA ( Leipzig, GER )

Joseph H. Gunnoe – Charleston, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., G Co/112/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Vossenack, GER)

Reynaldo Nerio Sr. – San Marcos, TX; US Army Air Corps, 82nd Airborne Division

Evelyn Orzel – Chicago, IL; Civilian, WWII, ammo production

William Scott – Passaic, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 2nd Lt. # 0-796608, B-24 navigator, 68BS/44BG/8th Air Force, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

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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 December 5, 2022, in Post WWII, SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. This was very good. I enjoyed reading of the surrender.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That was an interesting post. I had no idea that there was a need to disguise the bombing units. Thanks GP for keeping history alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A question! Where was your dad during the arrival of MacArthur? Was he part of the honor guard or what was his role at that time? I probably didn’t read carefully enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. No doubt your knowledge on this subject is very good. I have also read many books on World War II but the information given by you is excellent. I had no idea about the Soviet Union and Japan closing day war.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post, GP. Interesting how the propellers on the kamikaze had to be dismantled in order to prevent any ‘heroics’ or disruption.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A wonderful article. Thanks for posting.

    Like

  8. Je hebt dit stuk geschiedenis wel heel duidelijk overgebracht.Dank daar voor

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this post. (My brother is much more a specialist of the war in the pacific than I am. I’m more “European” theater, including Africa of course).
    I hadn’t thought about the fact that despite the two bombs, it was necessary to ensure unconditional surrender, and move troops in…
    (One learns every day)

    Liked by 2 people

  10. The detail about removing the propellers from the airplanes is the sort of thing that really makes your histories come alive. I imagine those vehicles were checked over pretty carefully, too, even though things like ignition-activated timers weren’t easily available then (or available at all, maybe.)

    That Chicago meme brought back a great, and perfectly true, story from my family’s history. An aunt and uncle lived in New Jersey before moving to Manhattan in 1950 or so, and my uncle commuted into NYC for work every day. On his way home late one afternoon, he had car trouble on one of the bridges; I suspect it was the George Washington. While he had the hood up messing with whatever was wrong, he heard a noise at the back of the car. A couple of guys were busy getting into the trunk. One said, “We’ll split it up. You take whatever you want from the front, and we’ll empty the trunk.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m not surprised about the “wait and see” caution

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Your posts are always very enlightening. Thanks for sharing important facts and details that the history books overlook.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Such a great outfit

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent work, GP. I’m learning a lot, following your blog. A while back, I had a nurse of Philippine descent working on me and told her about all I’d learned on your blog. I got a smile from her, but don’t know if she ever stopped by.

    I fully understand the “wait and see” attitude of the troops.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I really love it when it is possible to read details from somebody who was actually there, rather than somebody who has read about events at second hand.
    A few weeks after this initial stage, the Japanese began their incredible transformation to becoming civilised people rather than murdering monsters. Five or ten years later, and they and the Germans had both been accepted back into the ranks of thew civilised nations.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Fascinating! Love the humour too.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I can understand why precautions on occupation were taken even after surrender. Thank you, as always, for the history lesson here, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Super post, GP. I lived in the Chicago area for about eight years, so I enjoyed the AAA meme. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Russians slaughter 80,000. I don’t imagine the dead were all combat troops.
    To Smitty and the others, this jump must have felt like a combat jump, not knowing just how they would be accepted by the Japanese.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Great background, as usual, and excellent funnies.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It sounds as though the surrender involved cultural logistics, as well as military and supply logistics.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I can only imagine the roller coaster of emotion as they went from gearing up for an invasion to finding that the war was over. After what they had been through, I think I understand a “wait and see” attitude.

    I love the Chicago meme.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always picture the M*A*S*H* episodes when a ‘cease-fire’ was announced and Trapper would refuse to believe it.
      I figured that Chicago meme would either get the best laugh or I be threatened with a lawsuit. 🙄

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Thanks for posting this outstanding series.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Fascinating specifics about the surrender. I love funnies as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Thank you, GP, for the historical documentation of the end of the horrific war.

    It is known that kamikaze pilots wore helmets. Why?

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Fascinating history on so many levels, GP. I loved the ‘toons. I am very glad that today’s Russian Army is unable to advance as quickly as that Soviet Army did at the end of WWII. I’m also glad that when it came to Japan, we had the sense to handle that situation as well as we did. (Unfortunately that seems to be our exception rather than our norm.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • In my opinion, the take I have on your comment is that we no longer have the military leaders we had then. Can you imagine us taking over a country today, revamping their government from the ground up and leaving a General in full power to accomplish it? Our politicians wish to retain and increase their own wealth and power too much to allow that!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you, GP. For many of our so called leaders, if they don’t get what they want, when they want it, they immediately use the playground whine of ‘That’s not fair.” or some version thereof. The media/opposition/”they” lied about me or deliberately misinterpreted what I said or did. Regardless of any video/written/audio proof to the contrary and I am not addressing the deliberate deep-fake things have been been used also.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. The groundwork for peace with Japan was much more complicated than we learned in school. It’s important to note that Russia still has not signed the peace treaty with Japan that was negotiated in 1956. The current peace between the two nations is basically a truce. Technically, the two are still at war.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Patches sewn on over their regular ones. . . .

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Very interesting detail about the days surrounding the surrender. I have read so much about WW2, but had no idea that the Soviets killed so many Japanese troops in the closing days of that war.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

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