On September 2, 1945, a Japanese delegation climbed aboard USS MISSOURI (BB-63) to sign a formal instrument of surrender. Although Japan had agreed to terms two weeks earlier (see “The Surrender of Japan“), this ceremony officially ended World War II.
The following photos were given to me by a relative, who in turn had received them from his neighbor. He had been a Navy photographer in WWII and had kept many of his favorite shots – the pictures you see below had been stored in his garage for over sixty years. Among them are pictures of the surrender ceremony on board MISSOURI.
In the YouTube video below, you will see the entire ceremony unfold. It gives a good context from which to view this man’s photos, following immediately below. Most of the shots were taken from the vicinity of the 16-inch gun mount, but not all – some were most likely taken by a second photographer. But all of them record the dignity and solemnity of the moment, and bring a human face to the newsreels. (He did not have a picture of General MacArther signing, so I pulled one down from the Naval Historical Center.)
Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur arrive with Admiral Halsey following
Japanese delegation forms up
Japanese delegation ready to commence
Opening remarks by General MacArthur
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu prepares to sign the Instrument of Surrender
There were two sets of documents – one for the Allies, and one for the Japanese
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender
General MacArthur signs as Supreme Allied Commander (National Archives)
Admiral Nimitz signs on behalf of the United States
General Hsu Yung-chang signs for the Republic of China
General Sir Thomas Blamey (Australia)
GÃ©nÃ©ral d’ArmÃ©e Philippe Leclerc de Hautecloque signs for France
Luitenant-Admiraal C.E.L. Helfrich (Netherlands)
Also signed but not pictured:
Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser for the United Kingdom
Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave for Canada
Air Vice-Marshal Leonard M. Isitt for New Zealand
Japanese delegation departs
Admiral Halsey goes back to work
History, stored for sixty years inside a box in the garage.