The end of the Great War was reported in The Examiner on September 3, 1945, with the headline ‘Peace on earth as Japs sign surrender’.
Like the war itself, news of an official surrender from the Japanese instantly became a part of history.
“After 44 months of tragedy and bloodshed, the Japanese yesterday morning signed a document of unconditional surrender in a ceremony on board the US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay,” the Page 1 article read.
“The historic ceremony marked the first defeat in Japan’s 2600 year-old semi-legendary history.
“It took only a few minutes for the 12 delegates – two Japanese and 10 Allied – to affix their signatures to the articles of surrender.
“The proceedings were carried out in an atmosphere of drama and solemnity.”
In other news:
Prisoners of war
The front page also detailed a broadcast on Saigon radio, which provided the names of 164 Australian prisoners. They included four Tasmanians: Driver R. C. Taylor; Cpl. L. A. Dwyer; Cpl. W. Imlack; and Cpl. G. E. Lloyd.
“The broadcast, heard by the Department of Information listening post, was made by VX 17548 Padre Frank Kellow. It was made possible by the cooperation of French officers who landed by parachute in Indo-China last week,” it was reported.
“Padre Kellow said: The health of the troops is fair. Food is good and right throughout their captivity, the morale of this group of Australians had been high. Most of them, he stated, had received only two batches of mail in three-and-a-half years, and were consequently anxious how their people were faring in Australia.
“Most of the Australians were captured in Singapore in February, 1942. The resources of Saigon had now been placed at the disposal of the prisoners, who were deeply grateful for the consideration they had received since their liberation.”
Turning to recovery
Further back on Page 4, an article entitled ‘The Challenge’ examined what lied ahead for Australia, and the world more broadly. Acknowledging what was the sixth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, and now with the official signing of the Japanese surrender – peace seemed just out of reach.
“The world has not, however, been purged of evil and folly, and the battle for lasting peace has yet to be won against these forces,” it read. “The men who have fought and won the struggle for survival will play their part also in the fight for a better world.
“But the main burden of this battle will be upon the shoulders of the ordinary men and women who during the war have comprised the home front. It is their turn to take over. Their task will not be easy, for it will have none of the heroic and in aspirational qualities of war, nor will there be the spur of personal fear to urge them on.”
The article also noted the previous day victory speeches, made by US President Harry Truman and Army General Douglas MacArthur. This included their satisfaction with the triumphal conclusion of the war.
“But they spoke also of the challenge of the future – a future bought for us by the blood of countless thousands,” the article read.
“That challenge we must now take up, resolved to insist upon policies of enlightened progress toward the removal of the economic and social causes of-war, the creation of an unbreakable,system of international law, firm but just, and the forming of a new outlook on education for citizenship.”
An accompanying piece ‘Japan and the World’, also examined the future of international relations.
“The Japanese seem unable to understand how any action of theirs can possibly give offence to others,” it was reported.
“The fact is that the Japanese are so deeply imbued with the totalitarian outlook that it’s sufficient justification for any act that it is in the interests of Japan and when others, whose interests may be adversely affected, take a different view, they seem to be genuinely surprised. They are now tasting the bitter fruits of their perfidy. Will this experience bring the change of nature required? It is doubtful.”
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