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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Reichley: Japan surrenders

  • Today's column presented yet another bit of frustration in the research arena. By now I ask what else is new?
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  • Today's column presented yet another bit of frustration in the research arena. By now I ask what else is new?
    The usually trusty VFW calendar had two entries for today's date: Japan surrendered, ending WW II (1945), and National Navaho Code Talkers Day, and event that no doubt sped up entry number one's happening.
    So I put that on my column calendar, and was later checking the National Museum of the United States' calendar, where the only entry for Aug. 14 was "1900- U.S. forces reach Peking in the China Relief Expedition."
    The entry for Aug. 15 was "Japan accepts unconditional surrender terms." Since it's hard for one event to have happened on two different days, I went to other sources.
    The almost always reliable Army Almanac had for Aug. 14, 1945: "Japan accepts Allied unconditional surrender terms."
    That sealed it for me, but for more details I went to the Army's official history book, American Military History, that added to the confusion by saying "…on the 9th the Soviet Union came into the war and attacked Japanese forces in Manchuria; and on the same day another B-29 dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The next day Japan sued for peace, and, with the signing of the surrender terms aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, the bitter global war came to an end."
    This account would have made the surrender on Aug. 10. And all that was said was "Japan sued for peace," with no date for the actual surrender. What's an itinerant columnist supposed to do? Keep on searching, it appears.
    Anyway, most sources agreed that 68 years ago today the most destructive war in history ended. At least the fighting did, as the official surrender came a few weeks later.
    Looking a bit further I found some interesting details. When Japan surrendered it had some 2 million men under arms and was quite capable of conducting a tenacious ground defense of the home islands.
    That 2 million was how many soldiers the U.S. Army sent to France 21 years earlier, when Japan was an Ally in The Great War, aka WW I. Shows quite well how the world situation can change rather quickly in the great scheme of things.
    But by the end of the war Japan's navy had virtually ceased to exist, due to America's home front industrial power that had produced a mighty war machine known as the Pacific Fleet, that had pretty much annihilated the once mighty Japanese navy.
    As soon as the war in Europe ended, U.S. planners began to consider the shifting of ground troops from Europe and the U.S. to the Far East and an invasion of Japan. Things such as the Pacific Fleet and a couple of atomic bombs caused that planning to not be necessary.
    Page 2 of 2 - For a couple of area friends of mine Aug. 14th was most welcomed indeed. For former Lansing resident Corp. Ben Lohman, a proud Marine whose unit had been surrendered on Corregidor in the Philippines in early 1942, his 44 months as a POW in Japan was over.
    And for Corp. John Henshaw, a proud Marine wounded on Iwo Jima a few months earlier, it meant release from a stateside Navy hospital and return to Leavenworth where the Marine Corps paratrooper and combat veteran of several Pacific campaigns still lives. I'm sure there are others in the area, but those are two Marines I've known for many years.
    Its troops unofficially dubbed WW II The Big War, following so soon its predecessor The Great War. And the firing stopped, 68 years ago today.
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