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Japan Surrenders: 1945

Sept. 2, 1945. "Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing the document of surrender aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay as General Douglas MacArthur and members of the Allied delegations watch." Acme photo by Dave Davis, war pool correspondent. View full size.

Sept. 2, 1945. "Japanese foreign minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signing the document of surrender aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay as General Douglas MacArthur and members of the Allied delegations watch." Acme photo by Dave Davis, war pool correspondent. View full size.


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Missouri Guns

USS Missouri is indeed at Pearl Harbor, but the 16-inch guns looming overhead in this famous photo were replaced at the end of the Korean War. The guns remained in storage until a few years ago when they were made available to military museums. (A few were saved; the others scrapped.)

The gun barrel closest to the surrender ceremony (serial #386) was saved by the National Park Service and is now on display at Fort Cronkhite in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area near San Francisco. It's awaiting remounting in a nearby disarmed Coast Artillery battery to take the place of a 16-inch gun salvaged at the end of WWII.

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Stunning Photo!
Thank you for the opportunity to view this.

Amazingly enough

The man with the binoculars is still alive. See this article.

Not distracted

That was the boarding gangway and that would be the duty officer and his crew, in charge of piping aboard any visitors.

The French deserved to be there

The Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri was signed by the military representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, the Soviet Union, and France. At the time, the British, Dutch, and French all had more overseas dependencies or independent countries within their cultural-political orbits in the Pacific than the United States did. In most cases their local defence forces had fought valiantly against the overwhelming, unprovoked aggression of the Japanese, and their populations had suffered great hardships and losses of life.

Noisy neighborhood

When the surrender was announced in August, my mom gave me a metal dishpan and a wooden spoon and told me to go out by the front gate and bang it. Wow! Here I was a little kid actually being encouraged to make noise! She didn't have to tell me twice.


What are the three guys one the railing of the ship looking at? One of them has binoculars. The three are located next to all the sailors in white uniforms. With such an important event going on right in front of them, I am just wondering what could be so important that they are focused on something else?

Beginning and the end

On a recent visit to Hawaii we toured the Missouri which is now a museum ship in Pearl Harbor. After seeing newsreels and photos, I was amazed to note that the actual site of the surrender signing is quite small.
Ironically, Missouri is now docked along Battleship Row where World War II began December 7th 1941 and, as this great Shorpy photo reminds us, ended on the Missouri's starboard deck 4 years later.

Allies Also on Hand

Judging from the varied array of hats on the group in the foreground, the Allies were there in force. I can't identify many, but the French kepis do stand out. They have long preferred the kepi style dress hat, and here is no exception.

Then there are the 2 fancy kepis with the design on the top. My guess would be Algerian or Moroccan officers serving in the French Army.

But the real question is, what are the French doing there? Their Pacific exploits in WWII would make for a very thin book.

Lots of brass

General MacArthur was in charge of the proceedings and stands at right. The officer standing to his left is Lt. Gen. Richard K. Sutherland, sometimes erroneously identified as Gen. Jonathan Wainwright. 6th from bottom in the line at left is Adm. William F. "Bull" Halsey, 4 stars prominent on his service cap (he got a 5th star 3 months later). Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz stood just out of view to the right of the shot.

Ten days till I turn 6

This was on a Sunday, just three years and nine months since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In reality to a child, WW2 seemed so very long, as though it would go on forever, since I remember nothing before age 3.

Growing up in a very industrious, factory-filled, small Connecticut mill town where everyone had at least one full time job, I remember the many nights of "lights out" air raid drills, everybody's mom having to work in the factories, rationed food stamps, savings bonds, recycling of paper, scrap iron, grease, rags, restrictions on so many items, and banners on countless windows with gold stars of people who lost their beloved young family members in combat.

It was common to see people wearing uniforms of the various armed forces everywhere, throughout every day. Just about every home displayed their American flags and patriotic songs and sorrowful, sentimental or yearning love melodies playing on the radio. True joy was hard to come by, although through the spirit of togetherness, most people had hope we would soon be victorious. On the day this happened, our town really let loose.

Starting shortly after church services, there was a huge impromptu parade that soon became a massive block party, people all gathered in the center of town and the grocery stores and social clubs were providing unlimited cooked free food and drinks and local bands were playing uplifting music. There was dancing and singing and hugging and kissing and crying and everyone's emotional release was palpable.

This went on late into the night. There were no grumps, no arguments, no political dissent, just mutual exuberance from everyone that surely better times were ahead, happy days were here again. As a dumb kid, I really didn't understand all of what it meant, but it was obvious that this was one of the best days in history. God bless America.

My great-uncle was aboard

My great-uncle Carroll A.L. "Whitey" Herget was stationed aboard the USS Missouri BB63 during WWII. He was one of the few men in uniform to witness the Japanese surrender on the Missouri September 2, 1945.

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