On August 22, 1945 USS Levy DE 162, was host to the
first formal surrender of Japanese territory as World War II ended. Although the Japanese
Empire signed the Unconditional Surrender terms September 2 aboard Battleship Missouri,
the historic beginning of the end came aboard DE Levy in the lagoon of little-known but
strategically important Mille Atoll in the Marshall Islands group.
Following this historical event, USS Levy accepted a second Japanese surrender. The Wake Island ceremony took place aboard Levy on
September 3, 1945.
former United States possession, Wake Island is an atoll only 3 sq mi (7.8 sq km) in size, located in the central Pacific between Hawaii and Guam
and is composed of three islets -
Wake, Wilkes, and Peale. On December 23, 1941, Wake Island was seized by the Japanese after a fierce 16 day battle with U.S. Marines.
The Wake surrender was received by Marine officer, Brigadier General L.H.M. Sanderson, USMC, and the first American again to set foot on the soil of
Wake, Colonel Walter L.J. Bayler, USMC, celebrated as "the last man off Wake Island," which he had left on 21 December 1941.
General Sanderson's official narrative report of the surrender acceptance retraces the steps of the events. In part, his report states:
|"The Wake Surrender Acceptance Unit got under way from Ebeye for Wake late Sunday afternoon, 2 September 1945, aboard U.S.S. Levy (DE 162) which
was accompanied by U.S.S. Lehardy (DE 20) and U.S.S. Charles R. Greer (DE 23). ComCortDiv 11, Commander H. E. Cross, U.S.N.R. (CTU 96.14.2), and Commander
Prospective Occupation Unit, Commander W. Masek, U.S.N. (Ret.) (C.T.U. 96.14.4), were also aboard U.S.S. Levy.
Our force arrived off Wake at 0700 M. on Tuesday, 4 September, the following day.
Admiral Sakaibara and his staff (unarmed) came alongside just
prior to 0800 and were taken aboard without honors and escorted to the boat deck where they were introduced by Colonel Walker, U.S.M.C., to General Sanderson's staff and to
Commanders Cross and Masek (there was no handshaking). After all hands were seated, General Sanderson arrived on the boat deck. All hands were again seated after
introductions and the press was given permission to take photographs at will. A Japanese Imperial Army Colonel accompanied Admiral Sakaibara.
The Surrender Document (including Japanese translations) was handed to Admiral Sakaibara for his inspection. After inspection of the document by himself and staff he
announced that he was ready to sign.
Admiral Sakaibara was requested to have his naval staff, the army staff, and a platoon of 40 enlisted at the boat landing at 1330 to take part in the
flag raising ceremony.
Admiral Sakaibara then requested permission to leave the ship in order to inform his command that the surrender had been accepted and in order to prepare for the flag-raising
ceremony. This was granted. The Japanese flag boat was called alongside and the Japanese departed at about 1000 M.
A small boat the Lehardy with segments of a flag pole and necessary tackle, plus a working party came alongside, picked up CO. Walter L.J. Bayler,
U.S.M.C., and departed for shore at about 1020 M. Immediately thereafter, Levy moored to center mooring buoy 800 meters off the channel entrance. A small boat carrying
correspondents and photographers was dispatched to the beach.
Another small boat was called alongside and took ashore Commander Cross, Commander Masek, Lieutenant Colonel Roberson, U.S.M.C., and members of an
inspection party to make a preliminary inspection of the island and to spot a location for the flag-raising ceremony. This was selected at a point about 100 yards southeast
of landing at head of boat basin.
Meanwhile Colonel Bayler, the last American to leave Wake prior to Japanese occupation had stepped ashore. He was the first American to set foot on Wake
after almost 4 years of war with Japan.
While the other two DE's were being nested on Levy, the inspection continued ashore.
Admiral Sakaibara was told to place his staff and unarmed guard on the south side of the flag pole. The was accomplished. The Marine Color Guard and flag raising detail were
mustered on the dock inboard of a platoon of 30 bluejacket riflemen. A cordon of 20 bluejackets with pistols were stationed at regular intervals in the cleared area around
the flag pole. Admiral Sakaibara requested and was granted permission to remain on the dock to receive General Sanderson as he came ashore.
At 1330 General Sanderson and his Chief of Staff Colonel Walker arrived at the boat dock and disembarked. They were greeted by American Staff Officers
and by Admiral Sakaibara. General Sanderson with Admiral Sakaibara on his left, followed by his staff, the colors, and the color platoon, then marched to the north side of
the flag pole and halted. Admiral Sakaibara was ordered to rejoin his staff.
General Sanderson read a Proclamation and ordered the Colors to be hoisted. With the platoon at "Present Arms," with both American and Japanese
saluting, the Colors were then hoisted and two-blocked while the notes of "To the Colors" were sounded on the bugle. As the Colors reached the peak of the flag pole, the
Levy commenced and completed firing a twenty-one gun salute."
Information courtesy of Patrick Clancey.
To read the full surrender narrative, visit the Hyperwar web site.
click photo for a larger view
Shigimatsu Sakabara, former commander of the Japanese garrison forces of Wake, signs the surrender document on the deck of USS Levy DE 162, 4 September 1945.
Left to right, sitting at table:
Japanese Army Colonel Shigeharu Chikamori, Sakaibara, Japanese Paymaster Lieutenant P. Hisao Napasato, Marine Brigadier General Lawson H. M. Sanderson, of Santa Barbara, Cal., Commander
of the Fourth Marine Air Wing who accepted the
surrender in the name of Rear Admiral W. K. Harrill, Army
Sergeant Larry Watanabe of Honolulu, official interpreter at the
surrender, and Colonel T. J. Walker Jr., Sanderson's Chief of
Standing, center back, holding pipe, is Colonel Walter L. J. Baylor,
last man to leave and first to return to Wake Island.
Another View, closeup.
Photo #: NH 96813
Surrender of Wake Atoll, 4 September 1945
Raising the U.S. flag over Wake Island on 4 September 1945, as a U.S. Marine Corps bugler plays "Colors". This was the first time the
Stars and Stripes had flown over Wake since its capture by the Japanese on 23 December 1941. The officer saluting in the right
foreground is Rear Admiral Shigematsu Sakaibara, Japanese commander on Wake. Colors carried by the U.S. party, right background,
include the U.S. Marine Corps flag.
Photographed by R.O. Kepler, USMC.
U.S. Marine Corps Photograph, in the Collections of the
Naval Historical Center.