75th Anniversary of the Surrender of Japan, Ending WWII

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, the day remembered as the Victory over Japan day and the effective end of World War II. War would not “officially” end until the Treaty of San Francisco, signed almost seven years later on April 28, 1952.

On September 2, 1945, members of the Supreme Allied Forces and the Government of Japan gathered on the teak deck of the USS MISSOURI (BB 63) to sign the formal declaration of surrender by the Japanese Empire. Hostilities leading to the United States’ entrance into World War II had begun almost four years earlier with a surprise attack on naval forces at Pearl Harbor, HI. Now, the “Rising Sun” empire would cease the fighting in the Pacific and China, with the primary condition of surrender being the preservation of the life of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

Japanese Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed for the Japanese government, while Japanese General Umezu signed for the Japanese armed forces. General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur and Navy Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. US Forces officers dressed in their daily khaki work uniforms for the auspicious ceremony. MacArthur is said to have ordered that he and his men would wear that working uniform, implying that this was just another “day at the office.” On the bulkhead behind the signatories that day was the “Perry Flag,” the US flag that flew over USS POWHATAN commanded by Commodore Matthew C. Perry on the first of his two expeditions to Japan in 1853, forcing the Japanese to open their country to trade with America.

That Perry flag was retrieved from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, especially for the ceremony. Admiral Bull Halsey wanted the flag for the ceremony, so a young naval officer, LT. John K. Bremyer, was tasked with rushing it 9,000 miles in record time from Annapolis to the Pacific. He was told to “get there any way you can” and that he did, hitching rides and going without sleep and sometimes meals as he traveled on his mission. He carried the flag in a box inside a courier bag and he slept with it, ate with it, even carried it to the bathroom with him, never letting it out of his sight. He held a Top Secret Clearance and was a member of the elite Courier Force whose job it was to ferry documents in military wartime. God bless LT John K. Bremyer.

My dad, HB Auld, Sr., fought in the Pacific in New Guinea; my father-in-law, JB Kattes, served in Alaska; and my uncle, Ross Wilton Hargis, was a pilot in Germany…all during World War II. Truly, they were members of The Greatest Generation.


 

74th Anniversary of V-J Day

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is an auspicious day in history. It is V-J Day: Victory over Japan Day. Today is the 74th anniversary of the signing of the formal Articles of Surrender between the United States and Japan.

The formal signing was on the wooden deck of the Battleship USS MISSOURI (BB 63).

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, shown on the left of the table in the picture above, accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese Empire from Japan’s representative, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoro Shigemitsu. In the photo, US Forces officers are dressed in their daily khaki work uniforms. MacArthur is said to have ordered that he and his men would wear that uniform, implying that this was just another “day at the office.”

I saved this post from Tara Ross yesterday to share today on the anniversary of the actual date of surrender, September 2, 1945. My dad fought in the Pacific in New Guinea; my father-in-law in Alaska and my uncle was a pilot in Germany…all during World War II. Truly The Greatest Generation.

I read today where the “leader” of today’s four-member “Squad” wants to usurp that sobriquet for her generation. I would warn her that her generation has a long way to go to earn that honorific.

Here is guest writer and historian Tara Ross’ account of that surrender and the end of World War II in the Pacific: 

By Tara Ross

During this week in 1945, a formal surrender ceremony is held aboard the USS Missouri. Tomorrow is the anniversary of V-J Day! On this day, World War II effectively came to an end.

It had been less than a month since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had been devastating, of course. But the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki was—if anything—even worse. That plutonium bomb produced an explosion 40 percent bigger than the uranium one dropped on Hiroshima.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the bombs prompted the Japanese government to consider surrendering—but it still wasn’t willing to do so unconditionally. Instead, it sought to ensure that such a document would not “compromise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a sovereign ruler.” Nevertheless, President Harry Truman ordered a halt to the atomic attacks so negotiations could commence. Truman’s Secretary of Commerce later reported that Truman really didn’t want to “wip[e] out another 100,000 people . . . . He didn’t like the idea of killing, as he said, ‘all those kids.’”

By August 12, the Japanese government had the American reply: The United States would accept surrender, but any future government of Japan must be established by the “freely expressed will of the Japanese people.”

Negotiations dragged on much too slowly. The Japanese government still didn’t answer right away. The “days of negotiation with a prostrate and despised enemy,” a British ambassador later said, “strained public patience.”

That seems like a bit of an understatement!

When the Japanese government failed to respond, conventional bombings resumed. The United States continued to prepare a third atomic bomb, just in case it was needed. And it did something else: The United States began dropping leaflets across Tokyo. The leaflets described the terms that had been offered for ending the war.

You don’t think surrender was going to be easy, even after all this, do you? It wasn’t, of course. In Japan, there was one last attempt to stop the surrender. A handful of officers attempted a coup, but they were discovered. In the end, many of those involved in the coup attempt committed ritual suicide.

Finally, on August 15, the emperor made an announcement on public radio: Japan would surrender. It was the first time that many Japanese people had ever heard their Emperor’s voice. Can you imagine that?

The formal surrender ceremony occurred aboard the USS Missouri on September 2. The ceremony lasted for 23 minutes. General Douglas MacArthur accepted and signed the Japanese surrender as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. Admiral Nimitz and representatives from other nations also signed the document.

Terms of a final treaty would still need to be negotiated, of course. But, for all intents and purposes, World War II was finally over.

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