Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
The Post's celebratory headline proclaiming Japan's unconditional surrender and the end of World War II shared the top of the page with a somber reminder of war's reality -- the loss of the USS Indianapolis, the worst sea disaster in American naval history. Survivors of the torpedoed ship were at the mercy of ravenous sharks, with no food and water, for five days before being rescued. Only 316 members of the crew of 1,200 survived.
Japan signed the official statement of surrender aboard the U.S. battleship Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945, which President Harry S. Truman declared to be Victory over Japan Day. An excerpt from The Post of Aug. 15, 1945:
By Edward T. Folliard
The war's over.
President Truman proclaimed the end at 7 o'clock last night.
He said that Japan had accepted the Allied surrender terms without qualification.
The President's statement said:
"I have received this afternoon a message from the Japanese government in reply to the message forwarded to that government by the Secretary of State of August 11.
"I deem this reply a full acceptance of the Potsdam declaration which specifies the unconditional surrender of Japan. In reply there is no qualification."
The President, smiling broadly, continued:
"Arrangements are now being made for the formal signing of the surrender terms at the earliest possible moment.
"Gen. Douglas MacArthur has been appointed the Supreme Allied Commander to receive the Japanese surrender. Great Britain, Russia and China will be represented by high ranking officers.
"Meantime, the Allied armed forces have been ordered to suspend offensive action.
"The proclamation of VJ-Day must await upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan."
President Truman also announced that he had approved the War Department recommendation to reduce draft inductions immediately from 80,000 to 50,000 per month.
President Truman, surrounded by members of his cabinet and his military and naval aides, then proceeded to read the Japanese government's message accepting the surrender terms of the Big Four. The text follows:
"Communication of the Japanese government of August 14, 1945, addressed to the governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China:
"With reference to the Japanese government's note of August 10 regarding their acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam declaration and the reply to the governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, sent by American Secretary of State Byrnes under the date of August 11, the Japanese government has the honor to communicate to the governments of the four powers as follows:
"1. His Majesty, the Emperor, has issued an imperial rescript regarding Japan's acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam declaration.
"2. His Majesty, the Emperor, is prepared to authorize and insure the signature by his government and the imperial general headquarters of the necessary terms for carrying out the provisions of the Potsdam declaration. His Majesty also is preparing to issue his command to all the military, naval and air authorities of Japan and all the forces under their control wherever located, to cease active operation, to surrender arms and to issue such other orders as may be required by the supreme commander of the Allied forces for the execution of the above mentioned terms."
Having read this much, President Truman grinned broadly and said, "That's all."