May 9th, 1945 (WEDNESDAY)
UNITED KINGDOM: Channel Islands: Hundreds of illicit wireless sets were brought into the open today for the people of Jersey, Guernsey and Sark to learn from Winston Churchill that nearly five years of occupation were almost over. A German soldier climbed to the top of a crane in Jersey harbour to fly the Union Jack. In Guernsey, a British colonel's bald head was coated in ersatz lipstick; and on the destroyer HMS BULLDOG the bailiff of Jersey, Alexander Coutanche, smoked real tobacco for the first time in years and washed his hands in real soap after signing the surrender document.
The islanders - and the 10,000 occupying troops - were close to starvation. Many had been forced to eat food like rabbit skins and stewed cabbage for months. Nevertheless, even at the very end, the German commander, Vice-Admiral Huffmeier, remained fervently loyal to Hitler and threatened to fight on despite his country's collapse. A few weeks ago he drew up a list of potential hostages. Yesterday he ordered his men to give only the Nazi salute to British officers. Most were too drunk and relieved to obey him.
The German submarine U-249 surfaces near the Scilly Isles off Lands End, and flying the required black flag indicating capitulation, surrenders to a US Navy Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator of Patrol Bombing Squadron One Hundred Twelve (VPB-112) based at Upottery, Devon, England. The submarine then sails to Portland, England. This is the first U-boat to surrender to Allied forces after the cessation of hostilities in Europe.
Minesweeper HMS Prompt is mined in the English Channel, 12 miles NW of Ostend at 1705 (18 hours after peace had been declared. Clearly the mine had not heard the news.) Prompt is towed to Southend but was not repaired. (Alex Gordon)(108)
FRANCE: Paris: Six-inch headlines announced the surrender in the Paris Soir. The war-weary citizens stood cheering on their balconies to watch the Allied planes fly over. On VE Day they will have fireworks and an extra bottle of wine on ration for every adult.GERMANY: The German surrender is ratified in Berlin. Signing are Keitel, Friedeburg and Stumpf for the Germans; Spaatz, Tedder, Zhukov and de Lattre for the Allies. The Soviets celebrate VE Day.
German forces in East Prussia and Pomerania surrender
Göring and Kesselring surrender to the US 7th Army.
CZECHOSLOVAKIA: Prague: The last of Europe's capitals to be freed from the Nazi yoke, Prague, was liberated today after four days of bloody fighting between Czech patriots, the Russian anti-soviet troops of General Vlassov and the SS. Although the Czechs and POA troops forced the Germans out of Prague, it was the Red Army that put an end to the fighting. Advancing in their customary overwhelming strength, the men of three fronts surrounded the remnants of Schorner's Army Group Centre and raced into the city.
General Lelyushenko, who arrived with his Fourth Guards' Tank Army in the early hours of the morning, radioed to Konev: "Remaining fascist resistance destroyed. Many prisoners." One of the reasons for the speed of the Russians' advance was their fear that the Americans would get to Prague first, but Eisenhower has kept his agreement to stop at Pilsen and Lelyushenko is able to report: "There are no American forces."
The fierceness of the fighting between the Czechs and the Waffen-SS is evident from the debris of war which litters the streets. The bodies of 50 executed patriots still lie in the Masaryk railway station.
Sixty unarmed workers at Radio Prague died during a room-by-room struggle for the building which lasted for most of the first day and ended with ten SS men captured and 40 dead. From then on the patriots radioed their orders to the men on the barricades. Last night, when the war ended in the rest of Europe, the guns continued to fire in Prague, and even after General Toussaint, the Wehrmacht C-in-C in Bohemia, surrendered at Prague's police headquarters, the SS men fought on. The Red Army dealt with them, and today T-34 tanks line Prague's battered avenues while the Germans are heading for the safety of the American lines. Also heading for the American lines are General Vlasov and his army of Russian prisoners-of-war who elected to fight against their former comrades.
They were caught in an impossible situation in Prague where the Czechs appealed to them as fellow Slavs to help them in their uprising. Some did, despite Vlasov's orders to stay loyal to the Wehrmacht, but when the Germans moved in they fought alongside the SS. There is no doubt of their fate if they should ever fall into Stalin's hands.
DENMARK: Copenhagen: The cruiser Prinz Eugen, the only major German warship to survive the war is surrendered.
U.S.S.R.: Moscow: The people spilled onto the streets in an enormous impromptu celebration; the cheering crowds hoisted Russian soldiers high above their heads. However, the officially organized military parade to mark the victory over fascism and the end of the Great Patriotic War will have to wait until 24 June.
JAPAN: Off Okinawa, kamikazes damage the aircraft carriers HMS Formidable and HMS Victorious, and the destroyer escorts USS Oberrender (DE-344) and USS England (DE-635). The Royal Navy carriers are part of Task Force 57.2 and their aircraft are attacking airfields in the Sakishima Islands which are twenty small islands in the southern Ryukyu Islands. HMS Formidable has two squadrons of Goodyear Corsair Mk. IVs (FG-1s) and a Grumman Avenger Mk I (TBF-1) squadron; HMS Victorious has two squadrons with Vought Corsair Mk IIs (F4U-1As) and Goodyear Corsair Mk IVs and a squadron of Eastern Aircraft Avenger Mk IIs (TBM-1s). The kamikazes attack the task force between 1654 and 1705 hours and because of poorly deployed antiaircraft defenses, the Japanese aircraft crash into the flight decks of the two ships but cause only slight damage because the flight decks are armoured. Both ships are forced to retire to refuel and because of aircraft loses, HMS Formidable must also replenish. On 14 May, the Royal Navy will adopt the USN-style AA defence which has aircraft controllers in escorts deployed ahead of the carriers.
US Admiral Ernest J. King's statement on hearing of the damage to the USS England: "There'll alsways be and England in the US Navy." This DE had sunk 6 IJN submarines between May 19 and May 31, 1944 on one patrol. (John Nicholas)
CANADA: Frigate HMCS Cape Breton departed St John's with Convoy HX-354.
U.S.A.: New York exploded into a huge party when the German unconditional surrender was announced as official on May 7th. On Wall Street enough makeshift confetti was thrown for a hundred weddings. Office workers left their desks by the thousand to celebrate in the streets and watch ticker-tape, torn up telephone directories and multicoloured paper being hurled from skyscrapers. All this in a city that had been exhorted to "keep calm". A young female left attendant was found - still "going up" and "going down" - ecstatically shredding paper as she went.
The air was filled with songs and cries of joy, the din of aircraft circling overhead and the shrill whistles of ships in the harbour. Traffic on many main roads came to a standstill. St. Patrick's Cathedral where Mass was held, was filled to overflowing with servicemen and working women who had covered their heads with handkerchiefs.
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