When we visited Hawaii, we set foot upon the Surrender Deck on the Battleship Missouri in Pearl Harbour. It was a reflective experience as there are very few locations where one might stand - which has as much significance to the events of our recent history and our continued development of a free democratic society.
On 2 September 1945, less than one month since the second US Atomic Bomb had dropped on the city of Nagasaki, the representatives of the victors of the Pacific War met to receive the surrender signatures of the representatives of the Empire of Japan.
This Pacific War was initiated, many believe, when the then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the prevention of oil sales to Japan when the Japanese refused to withdraw from their invasion of China.
The Japanese conquest of Manchuria and then China was essentially to maintain their insatiable appetite for raw materials, largely for their military machine. The League of Nations proved powerless in this endeavour and finally the Japanese withdrew from the League and any hope of a lasting peace.
After months of planning, it now transpires, the Japanese considered their only real hope of staging off the West was to secure oil supplies from south east Asia, particularly the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Such a bold plan required the US fleet neutralised at Pearl Harbour in Hawaii.
On 7 December 1941, their naval air fleet surprise-attacked Pearl Harbour from four Air Craft Carriers 260 miles north of Hawaii. The US was alert to an upcoming attack, thinking it would come by sea. Many thought the Philippines may have been the most vulnerable as Pearl Harbour was too far away for a navy to steam towards without detection.
This attack brought America into World War II. They had previously been following an isolationist policy and had not been fighting on the war fronts in Europe, although they had been supplying England with necessary food and materials via convoys across the Atlantic.
The Pacific War
But now the Pacific War was under way. After innumerable campaigns of island hopping and blood letting under Admiral Chester Nimitz in the mid Pacific and General Douglas MacArthur in the south Pacific, the Pacific War came to an end after four years of blood letting; fully three months after 'Victory in Europe (VE) Day'.
The movietone news of the day really gave a false impression of the location and size of the Surrender Deck on the Battleship Missouri. From where the camera crew were located, it gives every impression of a wide open deck, perhaps in front of the huge guns of the Missouri.
In fact, the Surrender Deck is a tiny pocket of flat timbered surface to the forward right hand side of the ship opposite the Captain's cabin. From the cabin to the ship's side would be no more than seven yards (metres).
On display against the captain's cabin wall are the photographs of the various representatives signing the Surrender documents including Australian General Sir Thomas Blamey.
Finally General MacArthur signed the document with seven different pens which were subsequently sent to various people or institutions including West Point, the National Archives and to President Roosevelt in Washington DC. The last pen, a red one, he kept for his own family.
The entire Surrender ceremony lasted for only 23 minutes and MacArthur's plea that this end the world of war, fell on deaf ears for within five years the Korean conflict had begun.
None the less, to stand on the Surrender Deck with this piece of 'recent history' surrounding one, provides its own special moment of reflection. Australians have a great deal to be thankful for, as the Japanese came 'way too close' to our own country in those terrible years of the Pacific War.
May our nation continue to reflect on our Christian heritage and freedoms.
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 45 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 45 years with 4 children and 6 grand children