Japan surrendered to the Allies on 15 August 1945, but the formal signing of the “Japanese Instrument of Surrender” was on 2 September 1945 onboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. This action officially ended World War II.
My uncle, Lieut. Col. Robert J. Manning was a bomber pilot stationed on the island of Ie Shima, when the Japanese diplomatic delegation, on their way to meet with Gen. MacArthur and sign the surrender terms, stopped there on August 19, 1945. He took a photograph of their plane. If you thought August 15th was VJ day, it is sort of. Many Americans celebrate August 14 as V-J Day, as this is when it is observed in Europe.
In New Hampshire, the original VJ Day was celebrated with services of prayers of thanksgiving. In Portsmouth one such service was held in the South Church, Unitarian on Pleasant Street. Several churches were open all day for prayer including the North Church, Congregational, South Church, St. John’s Church, Episcopal, and others.
Portsmouth NH city leadership gathered more than 50 religious, fraternal, labor and service groups to participate in a victory program to show appreciation to all citizens, especially those still in service. Gold Star mothers were guests at the victory celebration. Public speakers were lined up including the mayor (Mary C. Dondero), Rear Adm. Thomas Withers, USN, commandant of the Portsmouth navy yard, clergymen of different denominations.
Floats were built at the navy yard as entries for the parade. The Veterans Council took charge of parade arrangements. Veteran’s organizations in Portsmouth and nearby towns were invited to march (Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, along with the State Guard). Music was to be provided by various bands: playground band, Navy Yard band and high school band, along with the community chorus. An estimated 25,000 people attended these events.
A great number of businesses in New Hampshire including taxi’s and other private modes of transportation closed for 24 hours. Rockingham Race Track in Salem closed for the day.
Following VJ Day, many of the social service agencies that helped during WWII still had a great deal of work to do. The 1945 War Funds and Community Chests still had needy families of servicemen and women. The USO had not stopped work–assisting troops waiting to be shipped home, wounded vets in hospitals increased requests for entertainment and clubs.
The National WWII Museum: V-J Day
US Dept of Defense: Victory Over Japan Day, End of WII