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Japanese Surrender

For the first week or two in August news of the Japanese ' expected acceptance of the surrender terms, formulated at Potsdam, resulted in a slackening down of offensive operations. It was designed to avoid as much as possible loss of valued Australian lives: the "Cease Fire" might be sounded at any time. This was, roughly, the position when, on the 15 August, at 9 am Australian Eastern Standard time, the announcement of surrender was made by the leaders of the Allied nations.

Tokyo Bay

Preparations for the occupation of Japan were put in hand and on 28 August Allied naval forces steamed into Tokyo Bay. Among them were the Australian cruisers Shropshire and Hobart and the destroyers Warramunga, Bataan, Nizam and Napier. World War II ended in a ceremony of historic importance lasting only a few minutes. Aboard the 45,000 ton battleship USS Missouri representatives of the Japanese Emperor, the Japanese Government and the Imperial High Command signed the surrender documents gold-edged for the Allies, black-edged for the Japanese. They were completed by the signature of General MacArthur for all the nations at war with Japan. His signature was witnessed by Lt-General Percival, commander of the British forces which surrendered to the Japanese at Singapore, and Lt-General Wainwright, who became a captive of the Japanese following Bataan and Corregidor.

Signatures were appended by the representatives of the following countries-United States of America, China, United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, Canada, France, Netherlands and New Zealand. Australia's representatives were headed by the Commander-in-Chief (General Sir Thomas Blamey) who afterwards quickly planned the arrangements for the surrender of Japanese forces in the areas where Australian troops had been fighting.

Bougainville and New Britain

First of these took place on the 6 September in St George's Channel between New Britain and New Ireland in the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Glory. The General Officer Commanding First Australian Army (Lt-General V A H Sturdee) accepted the surrender of Lt-General Imamura and Vice-Admiral Kusaka, who were in command of about 139,000 Japanese in New Britain, New Ireland, New Guinea, the Solomons and adjacent islands.

At the head of the gangway the Japanese party was met by the deck officer (Lt-Colonel L K Shave), the master-at-arms and a guard of Royal Marines. The party was disarmed and their name cards collected. Soon afterwards the ship's company paraded in two ranks on the flight deck of the carrier. On the starboard side of the flight deck had been placed a table and behind it stood General Sturdee. On either side of him and a little to the rear were Major-General K W Eather, General Officer Commanding Eleventh Division, and the commander of the Glory (Captain W Buzzard, RN). Near by were the interpreter (Captain Worth) and Major N J F Wright, personal assistant to the GOC, holding the surrender documents, and high-ranking Navy, Army and Air Force officers.

General Imamura, a squat, middle-aged officer, halted before the table and saluted. He was instructed to hand over his sword, which he did by placing it on the table in front of General Sturdee.

The terms of surrender, other orders, and instructions were then read and translated. On receiving orders to sign the document General Imamura explained through interpreters that he could not sign also for the Japanese Navy. This point was quickly settled by the ordering of Admiral Jininchi Kusaka to sign for the Navy. The Japanese were handed Japanese lettering brushes for signing. General Imamura added his signature in English, below the Japanese characters.

Three copies were signed, one for Australia, one for HMS Glory, and the third for the Japanese. The document was completed by the affixing of General Sturdee's signature. General Imamura made a speech in Japanese which was translated sentence by sentence. It was to the effect that the Japanese appreciated the consideration which had been shown to them and that they would immediately implement the orders given by the Australian commander. During the ceremony the flag of the Australian general (a Union Jack with the Royal Cipher centred) flew from the mast-an unusual sight on a British ship.


In the Balikpapan area, under the control of the General Officer Commanding 7th Division (Maj-General E J Milford), the whole of the Japanese forces in Dutch Borneo, led by a naval officer, Vice-Admiral Kamada, complied with the surrender orders on 8 September. Representatives of all the Allied services operating in Balikpapan were aboard the Australian frigate HMAS Burdekin at the rendezvous fifty miles north of Balikpapan, off the mouth of the Mahakam River delta. The Japanese emissaries arrived on time, passed between the lines of the cutlass party and stood before the official table. General Milford, accompanied by the commander of the Burdekin, Lt-Commander T S Marchington, RNR, walked briskly to the table, returned the salutes of the staff officers, turned and faced the Japanese. The Japanese stood rigidly to attention in their dirty jungle uniforms and saluted the leader of the men who had helped to bring about their defeat. The Japanese Admiral intimated that he understood and was prepared to accept the surrender terms. He was ordered to sign the document and to place his sheathed sword on it in token of surrender.


On Morotai Island, headquarters of the Australian forces in the Netherlands East Indies, before an assembly of more than l0,000 Australian and allied troops the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces (General Sir Thomas Blamey) accepted on the 9 September the formal surrender of all Japanese in the eastern half of the Netherlands East Indies. The instrument of surrender was Japanese signed by Lt-General Teshima, commander of the Japanese Second Army, comprising about 126,000 Japanese.

The ceremony was staged at the fourth side of a hollow square wherein the Japanese entourage, dwarfed by their stalwart guard, waited in crestfallen silence. General Blamey, accompanied by his senior staff officers, arrived and read the terms of surrender to the Japanese. On being ordered to sign the document General Teshima saluted, unbuckled his sword and, after bowing, proffered it as the token of a beaten foe. He sat down and signed deliberately and unhurriedly, rose and again saluted. Signatures were then added by the Japanese naval officers Captain Toru Oyama and Captain Minoru Toyama.

General Blamey then signed, indicating acceptance of the surrender, and made a strong speech, directed at the delegation but his words expressed the feelings of the Australian army. He said:.

In receiving your surrender I do not recognise you as an honourable and gallant foe, but you will be treated with due but severe courtesy in all matters.

I recall the treacherous attack on Australian ally, China. I recall the treacherous attack upon the British Empire and upon the United States of America in December 1941, at a time when your authorities were making the pretence of ensuring peace between us. I recall the atrocities inflicted upon the person of Australian nationals as prisoners of war and internees, designed to reduce them by punishment and starvation to slavery.

In the light of these evils I will enforce most rigorously all orders issued to you, so let there be no delay or hesitation in their fulfilment at your peril.

The Japanese navy has been destroyed. The Japanese merchant fleet has been reduced to a mere fraction. The Japanese armies have been beaten everywhere and all that remained for them was to await their total destruction. Japanese cities lie in waste and Japanese industry has been destroyed. Never before in history has so numerous a nation been so completely defeated.

To escape the complete destruction of the nation, the Emperor of Japan has yielded to the Allied forces, and an instrument of total surrender has been signed in his name. He has charged you to obey the orders which I shall give you.

In carrying out these orders the Japanese army and navy organisation will be retained for convenience. Instructions will be issued by the designated Australian commanders to the commanders of the respective Japanese forces, placing upon you and your subordinate commanders the responsibility for carrying out your Emperor's directions to obey all orders given by me to you.

You will ensure that all Allied personnel, prisoners of war or internees in Japanese hands are safeguarded and nourished and delivered over to Allied commanders. You will collect, lay down and safeguard all arms, ammunition and instruments of war until such time as they are taken over by the designated Australian commanders. You will be given adequate time to carry this out.

An official date will be named and any Japanese found in possession, after that date, of any arms, ammunition or instrument of war of any kind will be dealt with summarily by the Australian commander on the spot.


Next of the Japanese forces required formally to accept the surrender terms was the Japanese Thirty-seventh Army led by Lt-General Baba Masao. Twelve minutes were all that was required for the purpose.

Major-General G. F. Wootten, General Officer Commanding 9th Division, was seated in his residence on Labuan with senior members of his staff when the Japanese were presented to him. He ordered the surrender of their swords and the signing of the document accepting the terms.

With the Japanese signatures affixed, General Wootten ordered a victory salute of 101 guns. On the order the salute was fired in each centre occupied by Australian forces throughout British Borneo.


Surrender was made by the Japanese forces in Dutch Timor to Brigadier Lewis Dyke, who was the commander of a force sent to occupy the island. Arrangements had been made for the Japanese leader and his staff to come aboard HMAS Moresby, the flagship of the convoy bearing the force, in Koepang Harbour. Colonel Kaida Tatsuichi, in command of the Timor Japanese, signed the document, seated at a table on the quarter-deck of the ship. He gripped his sword between his knees, listened to the orders and instructions read out to him. After the signing he and his officers surrendered their swords.


On l2 September, General Itagaki, the Japanese commander in Malaya, signed the surrender of all Japanese forces in South-east Asia at the behest of Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten in Singapore.

Wom airstrip

The General Officer Commanding 6th Division (Major-General H. C. H. Robertson) called a parade of representatives of every unit of his division on the 13 September, when a simple ceremony was staged on the Wom airstrip. The Japanese, headed by the commander of the Japanese Eighteenth Army, Lt-General Adachi, arrived in jeeps at the southern end of the strip and moved slowly forward until they were twenty yards in front of the table at which General Robertson was seated. The instrument of surrender was read by the interpreter to Adachi, who then affixed his signature. It was completed by the addition of the Australian general's signature. The Japanese officers then handed over their swords, placing them on the table.

Nauru and Ocean Island

The final surrender ceremonies in which Australians were prominently concerned were those in which the Japanese commanders at Nauru and Ocean Island surrendered their forces to Brigadier J R Stevenson (11th Brigade) on the quarter-deck of HMAS Diamantina. On the 13 September Captain Hisayuki Soeda, in command of Japanese forces on Nauru, and five staff officers surrendered their swords to Brigadier Stevenson who read the terms of surrender and had them translated into Japanese. The document was signed by the Japanese and Brigadier Stevenson who accepted it on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. At Ocean Island on the 1 October the brigadier accepted Lt-Commander Nahoomi Suzuki's surrender of the Japanese garrison.