HALSEY on 9/2/45

9-1-18

(found online {University of Michigan} ADMIRAL HALSEY’S STORY published in 1947 by the Curtis Publishing Company).

Halsey describes the events of September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship Missouri for the Signing of the  Documents of Surrender.  (excerpts)

. . . A table with the two sets of surrender documents stood on the starboard veranda deck. almost in the shadow of No. 2 turret, MacArthur and Nimitz took their places behind it, and I joined the line of Navy officers.  The ceremony opened with a short address by MacArthur, beautifully phrased and forcefully read.  His voice was clear and firm, but his hands shook with emotion.  When he had finished, he pointed to a chair at the opposite side of the table and almost spat out, “The representatives of the Imperial Japanese Staff will now come forward and sign!”   (My flag log records it thus: “0903.  Jap envoys were asked to sign.  They did.”)

The Foreign Minister, Mamoru Shigemitsu, who was to sign for the Emperor, limped toward the table, leaning on a cane. He had lost his leg to a grenade thrown by a Korean in Shanghai; Nomura, later Ambassador to Washington, lost an eye at the same time . . . He took off his gloves and silk hat, sat down, dropped his cane, picked it up, fiddled with his hat and gloves, and shuffled the papers.  He pretended to be looking for a pen  –  an underling finally brought him one  –  but I felt certain that he was stalling for time, though God knows what he was trying to accomplish.  His performance made me so mad that when we returned to my cabin after the ceremony, I told MacArthur, “General, you nearly had a contretemps the morning.”
     “How’s that?” he asked.
     “When Shigemitsu was stalling out there, I wanted to slap him and tell him, ‘Sign, damn you! Sign!'”
     MacArthur said, “Why didn’t you?”

The second Jap, Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, who was to sign for the Imperial General Staff, he did his job briskly; he didn’t even sit down for it.
     MacArthur was next, as Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, then came their various representatives, led by Chester [Nimitz].  His war plans officer, Rear Adm. Forrest P. Sherman and I were invited to stand behind his chair while he signed.  Newsreels show MacArthur putting his arm around my shoulder at this moment and whispering to me, and many of my friends have asked what he was saying. Again we fell short of the solemn occasion.  MacArthur said, “Start ’em now.”
     I said, “Aye, aye, sir!”
     He was referring to a mass flight of 450 planes from TF 38, which we had ordered to orbit at a distance until we gave the word.  We passed it to them now, and they roared over the Missouri mast-high.

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