How The Sun's Correspondent Saw War End 50 Years Ago Yesterday 'THESE PROCEEDINGS ARE CLOSED'

September 03, 1995|By ROBERT B. COCHRANE

Aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Sept. 2 [By Radio] -- World War II ended officially at 9:18 o'clock Tokyo time, this morning.

It ended with the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur: "These proceedings are closed."

Japan's dream of conquest died under the frowning guns of the mightly battleship Missouri when Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, chief of staff of the Imperial Headquarters, affixed their names to the instrument of surrender which placed Japan unconditionally in the hands of the Allies.

Stately as religious procession

It was a ceremony that followed a fixed military procedure, but was as stately regal as a religious procession.

MacArthur conducting the ceremony in plain uniform but wearing his famous cap, spoke in firm, full tones through a battery of five microphones and loudspeakers which carried the emphatic conviction in his voice echoing along the decks and across the waters to where the battleships Iowa and South Dakota were anchored.

The ceremony was watched by an attentive throng of 50 army generals, 50 senior naval officers, 36 foreign signers and delegates and 11 Japanese, all of whom were drawn up on the admiral's promenade deck amidships facing a ten-foot table covered with gold-trimmed green cloth, on which the instrument of surrender lay open.

Ranged around these were more than 200 correspondents, photographers and radiomen. The entire ship's complement of white-clad sailors and Marines were standing in formation on the fore and after decks during the ceremony.

The first signature, that of Shigemitsu, was affixed at 9:03 o'clock and the last, that of Air Vice Marshal Isitt, of New Zealand, at 9:17.

Then MacArthur said:

"Let us pray that peace be now restored to the world and that God will preserve it always. These proceedings are closed."

In the narrows of Tokyo Bay

The Missouri was anchored in the narrows of Tokyo Bay, off the Yokosuka naval base. To the starboard was the Iowa and astern the South Dakota.

Scattered as far as the eye could see were destroyers, troopships and escorts and overhead, before and after the signing, buzzed planes of the fleet and the strategic air force.

Observers and officers boarded the Missouri shortly after dawn after a trip down the bay by destroyers. Visitors were all assigned stations on the gun turret, main deck, bridge deck and superdeck. At stations up the mast were blue-jackets. Every possible vantage point was crowded.

Officers in constant stream

A galaxy of officers arrived in a constant stream from 7:30 A.M.

The correspondents' destroyer tied up to the Missouri's port side, but others arrived by small boats and were piped over the side by bosun's whistle and crowded onto the deck to chat and wait until time for the ceremonies.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" and "God Save the King" brought everyone to attention at 7:59 A.M. facing the flag and saluting.

Guns at maximum elevation

All guns were raised to their maximum elevation lending an impression of strength and power.

Over the stern rail the Yokosuka naval base showed dimly through the mist. Over the port quarter, Tokyo lay invisible behind the grayness.

Seemed grotesquely puny

It was a gray day for Japan, and the squat little men who boarded this ship to make peace seemed grotesquely puny to have caused so much sorrow and worry in a nation which could produce weapons like this floating fortress.

On deck prior to the signing stood Admiral Richard E. Byrd, hero of South Pole explorations; Lieut. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright and Gen. Arthur E. Percival, just released from prison camps in Manchuria; and dignitaries who later signed the surrender for their respective countries.

With them mingled Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, almost inconspicuous in plain khaki, and Admiral William F. Halsey, "Bull of the Pacific," minus his naval cap but wearing the plain overseas type.

Admirals McCain, Sherman, Spruance and many other heroes of Pacific naval battles also were present.

Five full generals

There were five full generals: Stilwell, Krueger, Hodges, Spaatz and Kenny. Ranged with them were 11 lieutenant generals, 19 major generals, 15 brigadier generals, 8 colonels, 2 lieutenant colonels and one master sergeant -- Hubert Carroll, General Wainwright's orderly who served through three years and three months of imprisonment.

MacArthur met by Nimitz

Admiral Nimitz met MacArthur at the gangway and accompanied him as he walked swiftly, straight past the signing tables on which then lay only a plain white pad of paper, two pens in holders and a round paperweight.

At 8:51 a small boat containing the Japanese circled in to the landing on the starboard gangway. The boat was lost to sight under the ship's side as it came in close and it seemed an interminable time before the Japanese arrived, led by Shigemitsu, whose artificial right leg hindered his progress.

General follows Shigemitsu

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