VJ Day – Exmouth man shares memories of Japan’s surrender 75 years on

PUBLISHED: 14:21 11 August 2020

John Davies shares his memories of the day Japan signed their official surrender ending World War Two. Picture: John Davies

John Davies shares his memories of the day Japan signed their official surrender ending World War Two. Picture: John Davies

Archant

Ahead of the anniversary of the end of hostilities in Japan during World War Two, an Exmouth man who was present for the official surrender has shared his memories.

A photo of Yokohama taken from a damaged building. Picture: John DaviesA photo of Yokohama taken from a damaged building. Picture: John Davies

John Davies was midshipman on the British flagship Duke of York which was present in Tokyo Bay when the surrender was officially signed on September 2, effectively ending World War Two.

VJ Day on August 15 will mark 75 years since the end of conflict in Japan.

Mr Davies, who following the war became vicar of Littleham and now lives at Harding House, in Salterton Road, has shared his memories of the time.

He said: “I joined the battleship HMS Duke of York at Liverpool while she was refitting after sinking the Scharnhorst.

John Davies, midshipman aboard the Duke of York when the official surrender was signed by the Japanese. Picture: John DaviesJohn Davies, midshipman aboard the Duke of York when the official surrender was signed by the Japanese. Picture: John Davies

“We sailed for the Pacific and were at Manus, near Papua New Guinea, when the atomic bombs were dropped.

“At Guam, the American base, we heard that Japan was ready to surrender but terms had to be agreed.

“We joined the American
Third Fleet and spent a whole
day steaming through the
biggest fleet the world has ever seen.

“My station was in the bridge plotting room which gave the tactical position to the Admiral and Captain.”

Mr Davies said that the ship was ‘overwhelmed’ with ‘diplomatic traffic’ ahead of the signing of the surrender.

He added: “When it was
agreed that the Emperor
should remain head of state, we took station astern of the American battleships Missouri and Iowa and led the way to Japan.

“I was sent to the air defence position to give a running commentary to the ship’s company at action stations.

“We anchored outside Tokyo Bay; boats were lowered to patrol for frogmen.

“One saw men waving on the beach, they had escaped from a prisoner of war camp, the first Brits to find freedom.”

On the morning of September
2, the Duke of York anchored
next to the USS Missouri on
which the official surrender was signed.

Mr Davies said this gave him a ‘grandstand view’.

In Japan 15 years later, when first lieutenant of a frigate, Mr Davies visited the war memorial built at Kyoto.


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