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Peace Bombers Arrive

From the most thorough researchers on the Pacific War…..

IHRA

The title and written content of this week’s post come to you from the 63rd Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group’s history. Once again, we’re focusing on that August 19, 1945 flight that stopped over in Ie Shima on the way to Manila to discuss the Japanese surrender.

On August 19th, the men on Ie Shima witnessed history in the making, as at 12:30 p.m. two white Jap Bettys approached the island escorted by hordes of P-38s, 2 PBYs, two B-25s and other elements of our efficacious air force. After making two trips around the island, the Bettys landed gracefully on Mocha strip which was lined up with M.P.s and thousands of curious soldiers. As the ships taxied down the runway, their bespectacled engineers stood half out of their open top hatches. They were bedecked in most elaborate flying attire—leather jackets, flying helmets, and goggles. One couldn’t help but think how uncomfortably…

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Japanese surrender

11th Airborne Honor Guard

11th Airborne Honor Guard

The above photo shows the 11th Airborne Reconnaissance Battalion Honor Guard as they presented arms to the Allied and Japanese delegations upon their arrival.

General Douglas MacArthur, despite the irate fuming of the Soviets, was to be the Supreme Commander in Japan for the Occupation and rebuilding of the country. No occupational zone was given to the Russians irregardless of their protests. The Soviets were insisting that they were to receive the Kuriles, Hokkaido and northern Honshu as their ‘spoils of war.’ Stalin sent an emissary with these plans to MacArthur, who in reply threatened to sent the messenger back to Moscow rather than allow him to remain in his observer status. Stalin also sent a telegram to Truman with the same demands. At first, the president felt he would just ignore the irrational request, but then decided to just send a negative reply. The Soviet plan for the takeover was in effect until 23 August, when the Russian leader realized that Admiral Nimitz controlled the Japanese waters and he would be risking an armed conflict.

the decks of the USS Missouri

the decks of the USS Missouri

At 0700 hours on Sunday morning, 2 September, guests to the Japanese surrender ceremony began arriving as destroyers pulled up to the USS Missouri and unloaded their passengers, military officers and correspondents from around the globe. At 0805 hours, Admiral Nimitz climbed on board and MacArthur at 0843. Finally, the Japanese delegation went up the starboard gangway at 0855. Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, using a cane and in agony because of a poorly fitted artificial leg, and General Umezu were followed by nine representatives, three each from the Army, Navy and Foreign Office. They paused, awaiting directions, each wearing a Shiran Kao (nonchalant face). The proceedings began at precisely 0908 hours with men draped from the decks and 450 aircraft from Task Force 38 roaring above in the overcast skies.

Japan's instrument of surrender documents, 2 Sept. 1945

Japan’s instrument of surrender documents, 2 Sept. 1945

An invocation was read by the ship’s chaplain with the entire company standing at attention and a recording of the “Star-Spangled Banner” played through the speakers. Kase, the Foreign Minister’s secretary, felt his throat constrict upon seeing the number of small painted Rising Suns on the bulkhead. Each miniature flag represented a Japanese plan or submarine destroyed. Admiral Tomioka wondered why the Americans were showing no signs of contempt for them, but also, anger seared through him at the sight of the Soviet presence. The eyes of General Percival and Colonel Ichizi Sugita (interpreter) locked as they both remembered an earlier surrender and their painful memory at the Ford factory in Singapore.

The N.Y. "Daily News" photo of 3 September 1945 (From Everett's scrapbook) Cartoon was on the opposite page.

The N.Y. “Daily News” photo of 3 September 1945 (From Everett’s scrapbook) Cartoon was on the opposite page.

Generals Wainwright and Percival stood with MacArthur as he began to speak, “We are gathered here to conclude a solemn agreement whereby Peace may be restored…” (There was a brief interruption by an inebriated delegate [thankfully NOT American] who began making faces at the Japanese.)

When the general had finished and the U.S. and Japan had signed the documents, as if on cue, the sun broke through the clouds. The next to sign was China, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand. MacArthur announced, “These proceedings are closed.” He then leaned over to Admiral Halsey and asked, “Bill, where the hell are those planes?” As if the pilots could hear the general’s irritation – 400 B-29s and 1,500 aircraft carrier planes appeared out of the north and roared toward the mists of Mount Fujiyama.

F4U's F6F's fly in formation during the ceremonies,  USS Missouri is in left foreground

F4U’s F6F’s fly in formation during the ceremonies, USS Missouri is in left foreground

MacArthur then went over to another microphone to broadcast back to the United States, “Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended…” Japan’s delegates, now no longer considered the enemy, were saluted as they left the quarterdeck.

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Historical note – Almost a century before these proceedings, Commodore Perry had opened the West’s door to Japan. In commemoration of this, Admiral Halsey arranged for the actual Stars & Stripes, flown by Perry’s flagship in 1853, to be flown out to Japan for the ceremonies.

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Note of Interest – Truman was very pleased that the “USS Missouri” was chosen for the momentous occasion. It was one of the four largest battleships in the world, it was named after his home state and christened by his daughter, Margaret. (I find it hard to believe that this was just a coincidence.)

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Humorous note – On 1 September, the “Missouri’s” gunnery officer, Commander Bird, held a dress rehearsal for the ceremonies with 300 of the ship’s sailors. Everything went well until the band began to play the “Admiral’s March.” The stocky chief boatswain’s mate nicknamed, Two-Gut,” froze in his steps and scratched his head saying, “I’ll be damned! Me, an admiral!”

When the real Admiral Nimitz came aboard, he nearly went unnoticed. In desperation, Commander Bird shouted, “Attention, all hands!” Everyone on the ship became so silent that you could hear the waves lapping at the ship’s hull.

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General Douglas MacArthur - USS Missouri

General Douglas MacArthur – USS Missouri

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Resources: “The Last Great Victory” by Stanley Weintraub; “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; Wikicommons.org; ibilio.org; USS Missouri.com; Everett’s scrapbook; “The Pacific War” by John Costello

Remember to click photo if larger view is required. Thank you for stopping by.

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