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Sound clip: Japanese surrender, 1945

Audio file

John Allingham describes the signing of the Japanese surrender, 1945.


We were escorted up a deck to a deck that was set aside for the ceremony, and there, quite a large party had assembled and kept being added to as others arrived. Everybody was chatting there – seemed to be only admirals and generals – and the main theme of conversation was, this is the day we've been waiting for. At about a quarter to nine, the main signatories were lined up behind the table that had been set out for the actual signing, and the aides were lined behind the signatories. On the left were what seemed to be three or four rows of what seemed to be mainly generals and admirals and on the right were the press and cameramen on a specially built staging. Just in front of the table was left clear for the Japanese delegation.

In the line of the United Nations signatories were the following: Admiral Nimitz, for the United States, a Chinese general from China, Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser from the United Kingdom, the Russian general was next and then General Blamey from Australia. General Le Clerc from France was next with Colonel Cosgrave of Canada, Admiral Helfrich from the Netherlands and Air Vice-Marshal Isitt from New Zealand.

Just before nine o'clock the Japanese arrived, 11 altogether – four generals, three admirals and three governments, all headed by the government signatory. The uniforms were very shabby indeed, and the government ministers were in morning suits and top hats. They lined up in two rows with the government signatory, Shigemitsu, in front and stood there absolutely wooden without a flicker of an eyelid. Approximately at nine, General MacArthur came out of Admiral Halsey's cabin and spoke quietly into the microphone. It was just a short, simple speech, and one could see that it was a great moment for him. When he had finished, he called on the Japanese to sign the two copies that lay on the table. The foreign secretary then came to the table and produced the authority from the Emperor and from the government of Japan and spread these papers, which were covered with Japanese lettering, on the table. He then signed, using his own pen, and was followed by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, who also signed with his own pen – obviously an American make. General MacArthur then called generals Percival and Wainwright to assist him, and he signed for the United Nations. He was followed by the United Nations representatives in turn, and each of them gave the two pens – they used a different pen to sign each copy – to their aides at the table with them. When New Zealand's turn came there were no pens left, so the Air Vice-Marshal had to use his own pen so I, as his aide, missed out. The proceedings then being declared closed by General MacArthur, he returned to Admiral Halsey's cabin and was followed by the signatories. The Japanese took their copy of the surrender document and departed, still as impassive as ever.


Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Reference no: TXCDR 2798

Image: Signing the Japanese surrender on board USS Missouri, Tokyo Harbour, 2 September 1945. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons

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Sound clip: Japanese surrender, 1945, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated