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August 15th, 1945 (WEDNESDAY)

UNITED KINGDOM: London: The news was broadcast at midnight by Clement Attlee, but thousands of people who did not listen to the radio went to work today, only to leave again for a two-day holiday. The weather was wet, and the rain soaked the king and queen, driving in an open carriage to the first state opening of parliament since the war began. The queen sat smiling in a frail blue dress with her hat drooping. Every street was filled with milling crowds, and the Mall was a sea of people who fell silent for the king's broadcast at 9pm.

"The world has come to look for certain qualities from the peoples of the Commonwealth and Empire," he said. "We have our part to play in restoring the shattered fabric of civilization. It is to this great task that I call you now." The royal family made repeated appearances on the palace balcony. After dark the two princesses joined the rejoicing crowds in the streets outside. Earlier in the day Field Marshal Montgomery was wildly cheered in the streets of Lambeth, where he was born, as he was driven to receive the freedom of the borough to cries of "Good old Monty!"

FRANCE: Paris: Marshal Petain is found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

U.S.S.R.: Moscow: Manchuria, which Japan had called Manchukuo, is to be returned to Nationalist China within three months of the end of hostilities, following a treaty of friendship agreed between the Chungking government and the Soviet Union today. The treaty, which excludes China's Communists, is a tactical victory for Chiang Kai-shek's government over its Communist rivals. In exchange for returning Manchuria, the Soviet Union's interests are safeguarded with its former possession, Port Arthur, returned to be a joint naval base and Dairen a free port.

CHINA: Marshal Chiang Kai-shek broadcast to his people after the Japanese surrender had ended a conflict that began on 7 July, 1937. "Our faith in justice through the black and hopeless days of eight long years of struggle has been rewarded," he said.

Chu-Teh, the C-in-C of the Communist army, warns the Allies that the Communists expect a share in the Japanese surrender and post-war settlement.

A three US Marine team parachutes into Northern China to link up with American PoWs. (168)

MANCHUKUO: P-63s of the Soviet 17 IAP claim one "I-97". (Mike Yared)

KOREA: 19 IAP Yak-9s claim 1 of 2 J2M Raiden 'Jack' Fighters near Nanam in the north of the country. (Mike Yared)

JAPAN: Major Hatanaka, Lt. Col. Shiizaki and Col. Ida arrive at the HQ of the Imperial Guards Division to enlist General Mori in the coup. There they gather Major Koga and Ishihara who have the written order to be signed by General Mori which will put the coup in motion. They wait on the General.

After midnight they barge in. When asked to lead the coup, Mori refuses without orders from his superior. They continue to cajole him to join them. They are joined by Captain Uehara. Mori refuses again and Uehara draws his sword. Col. Shiraishi, the General's aide is killed. Major Hatanaka draws his pistol and shoots General Mori.

It is now 2:00 am and the coup leaders proceed to the palace. There they obtain the cooperation of the guards on duty. The palace is sealed from the outside, telephone lines are cut. The rebels also take the Broadcasting House across the street from the Palace. The imperial chamberlains are alerted. They remove the recordings from storage and take them to a out of the way air raid shelter.

Troops ransack the palace looking for the recordings and Privy Seal Kido and others. Other rebels fan out over the city to kill the PM and FM and others of the "peace faction".

War Minister Anami commits ceremonial suicide. He does this because he has failed the Emperor by failing to win the war; failing to follow the Emperor's wish for peace; failing to control his officers; failing to live up to the expectations of the Junior officers and because the rebels have assassinated General Mori.

The coup comes to the attention of General Tanaka, General Mori's commander. At 4:00 am he proceeds to the palace. One unit at a time he seizes control of the situation. He confronts the leaders of the coup and advises them to commit ceremonial suicide for disobeying the wishes of the Emperor.

The Emperor is told of the coup at 7:00 am and then General Tanaka pays his respects. Radio Tokyo goes back on the air at 7:21 and announces that the Emperor will broadcast a rescript at Noon. General Tanaka finishes at the palace and takes the recordings to Radio Tokyo. 

The Emperor broadcast his rescript at noon.

"Despite the  best that has been done by everyone, the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces .... and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people, the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage ... Moreover the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking toll of many innocent lives.

"Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."

103 carrier-based aircraft of the USN's Task Force 38 are launched at 0415 hours local and attack airfields in the Tokyo area. They encounter heavy aerial opposition and shoot down 32 Japanese aircraft. A second strike is cancelled while it is en route to objectives; pilots jettison their ordnance and return to their carriers. The last aircraft shot down by the USN in World War II occurs at 1400 hours when an F6F-5 Hellcat pilot of Fighting Squadron Thirty One (VF-31) in the light aircraft carrier USS Belleau Wood (CVL-24) shoots down a "Judy" carrier bomber (Kugisho D4Y Navy Carrier Bomber Suisei) at sea.

COMMONWEALTH OF THE PHILIPPINES: All offensive action against Japan by Allied forces ends. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur is notified that he is Supreme Commander for Allied powers. MacArthur tries to communicate with Tokyo using the War Department signal facilities, but when he receives no reply, he turns to the USAAF's Army Airways Communications System (AACS). The AACS Manila station (call sign WXXU), tapped out MacArthur's instructions to the Japanese using a frequency over which AACS had been broadcasting uncoded weather information; the message reads:

From Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers

To The Japanese Emperor, the Japanese Imperial Government, the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters

Message Number Z-500

I have been designated as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (the United States, the Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and empowered to arrange directly with the Japanese authorities for the cessation of hostilities at the earliest practicable date. It is desired that a radio station in the Tokyo area be officially designated for continuous use in handling radio communications between this headquarters and your headquarters. Your reply to this message should give the call signs, frequencies and station designation. It is desired that the radio communication with my headquarters in Manila be handled in English text. Pending designation by you of a station in the Tokyo area for use as above indicated, station JUM on frequency 13705 kilocycles will be used for this purpose and Manila will reply on 15965 kilocycles. Upon receipt of this message, acknowledge. 

Signed MacArthur.

Within less than 2 hours, the Tokyo reply came back. This was the first direct communication between the Allies and Japan.

(Having spent 3 years in the USAF's Airways and Air Communications Service (AACS), the successor of the Army Airways Communications System, I'm kind of proud of the above. - JEM)

AUSTRALIA: People had just got to work when the news was announced. They flooded out onto the streets of the cities, and the dancing and fireworks continued all night.

19 Squadron RAAF is formed from ex-KLM operated Dakotas that have been unofficially called NEI-Transport Section, Brisbane (NEI-TSB) and NEI-Transport Section, Melbourne (NEI-TSM) until then. (Daniel Ross)

CANADA: RCN 803 Sqn re-equipped with 12 Griffon-powered Seafire XV a/c at RNAS Asvroat.

U.S.A.: In New York Mayor La Guardia broadcast in a voice choked with emotion: "The day is not complete for he who brought it about is not with us. I know that 130 million Americans are giving thanks tonight for Franklin Delano Roosevelt." Outside tons of ticker tape were scattered and crowds danced to the sound of taxi horns and ships' sirens. Outside St. Patrick's Cathedral, hundreds knelt on the pavements.

In Washington, where the news broke at 7pm yesterday, the crowds outside the White House chanted "We want Truman". The president appeared on the portico saying: "This is the day we've been waiting for since Pearl Harbor." A two-day holiday was proclaimed for all federal employees.

The rationing of petrol (gasoline) and canned goods is abolished.

The top pop songs on this date are 
(1) "Dream" by The Pied Pipers; 
(2) "I Wish I Knew" by Dick Haymes; 
(3) "If I Loved You" by Perry Como'; and 
(4) "Oklahoma Hills" by Jack Guthrie.

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