This forenoon, Japanese envoys, including their foreign minister, and representatives of the United Nations, including the Supreme Allied Commander, General of the Armies, Douglas McArthur, met together on board USS Missouri, and signed documents for the complete surrender of Japan & its empire. The ship’s company were able to listen to a broadcast of the ceremony after Divisions & church. The day was generally celebrated by all who were in a position to do so. The ceremonial sunset on board the flag-ship [HMS] Duke of York was very colourful & moving.
For the third time in the last 9 months the order was given to “Splice the Mainbrace”. No doubt this was appreciated by the troops. Personally I would much prefer a pint of good cider. Letters posted today will be specially stamped “VJ-Day, Tokyo Bay”, aboard ship.
Yesterday US Air Forces began taking over the airfields ashore. Transport aircraft have been crossing overhead all day. Anti-sabotage boat patrols are being maintained during the hours of darkness & double sentries armed with rifles & lanchesters posted around the ship.
Today [USS] Missouri moved into Tokyo Bay. Other units will proceed as berthing areas are check swept by our minesweepers. Admiral Nimitz has arrived by seaplane, and General McArthur is reported to be at Okinawa. Paint ship is just about completed, the hands having been busy on the hull since Monday. Upperworks are light grey & the other dark.
Upon the return of the Japanese envoys to Tokyo, the enemy radio began announcing when & where the forces of occupation will land. Airborne troops are expected in the Tokyo area next Sunday & the fleet is to enter the bay shortly after. The actual peace treaty will be signed on a US Battleship in Tokyo Bay on August 31st by the Supreme Commander who will arrive by sea. In a speech to the ship’s company the Captain more or less confirmed these arrangements.
Yesterday [22nd] afternoon practically every aircraft in the fleet that could fly was airborne for a massed flight over the assembled ships. It was a grand sight & some excellent photos should have been obtained.
Yesterday evening we received orders that we were to be ready to disembark landing parties at 8 hours notice. During early hours this morning further orders were received and soon after 0500 Landing parties began mustering on the QD [Quarter deck] to receive further equipment in preparation for embarking during the forenoon. At 1030 we stopped engines & a high speed transport lay off our port quarter while landing craft ferried the troops across. Despite the wild motions of the craft when alongside, all personnel & gear passed safely down the scrambling nets and, as far as we know, up into the transport without incident. The departing force did manage to take with them the hammocks of 4 men going on draught, but better that than leaving something behind, I imagine! At the last moment, orders were received to reduce the HQ Staff, and two Mids & several ratings & marines were left on board, much to their chagrin.
On Sunday [19th], apart from divisions & church, hands were employed provisioning ship. Japanese Peace envoys arrived at Manila for conferences with, or rather to receive orders from, General MacArthur’s representatives in the afternoon.
Extract from the memoirs of Lt A Canham:
“…hundreds of ships of the fleet were prepared to enter Tokyo Bay to accept the surrender. But guarding the entrance to the harbor was a small island with a very modern battery of six-inch guns. Newfoundland was ordered to send a landing party ashore to “spike the guns.” Being a young lieutenant I was put in charge of the landing party and we were issued rifles and helmets and a borrowed American landing craft and went ashore at dawn. Expecting the worst, we were pleased to be met by a smiling Japanese officer waving a white flag in one hand and a Japanese-English dictionary in the other. We went through the gun emplacements and magazines, destroying everything that could be used against the fleet. We then hoisted the White Ensign and the Stars and Stripes at the entrance to the harbor. A very proud and happy moment!”
We refueled again today from British Oilers. Yesterday [17th] all ships of the 3rd Fleet rendezvoused for massed photographs. The total must have been approaching the 200 mark, & no doubt it will give the Japanese something to think about when they all approach Tokyo. On Thursday [16th] at dawn, we were joined by Admiral Fraser in DOY [HMS Duke of York].
The organization and training of the landing parties have proceeded apace. The BPF [British Pacific Fleet] or what there is of it, is providing a reduced brigade. Newfoundland’s share, apart from RMs [Royal Marines], is 2 Platoons & a HQ Sect [Head-quarters Section], with the Gunnery Officer in charge. Four mids [midshipmen] have been detailed to go, & are objects of a certain amount of envy to their fellow officers in the Gunroom.
Japanese peace envoys are a long time in making their appearance at Manila and other places designated by the Supreme Commander [General MacArthur], and fighting is still going on in Burma & Manchuria. This disorganization is probably explained by the changes that have been effected in the Japanese Cabinet. Members of the Royal Family are said to be touring the battle fronts to ensure that the Royal Decree to cease fighting reaches all positions & is carried out.
The United Nations have replied to the Japanese note. They agree to the Emperor remaining on the throne, providing he takes orders from the Supreme Allied Commander, who will be General McArthur. Yesterday [Aug 13] was a strike day, & on several occasions, enemy aircraft attempted to approach the fleet. Our fighter cover was successful in driving them off. During the afternoon, one Seafire crashed on the carrier’s deck & caught fire. The fire was soon brought under control but too late to save the pilot.
Today we spent in the US Replenishment area, refuelling from American tankers. Royal Marine & Seamen landing parties are being organized from the fleet in anticipation of our having to set up signal stations & bases ashore in the near future. Several of our senior officers today paid a visit to the flagship to assist in working out details.
Admiral Sir Bruce Frazer, C-in-C [Commander in Chief] BPF [British Pacific Fleet] was last reported flying his flag in HMS Duke of York at Guam, and is expected to join the fleet in a couple of days time.