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Appendix VI: The Surrender of Wake by the Japanese

On 7 September 1945, Rear Admiral Saiaibara, Shigematsu, IJN,[1] undoubtedly undergoing an experience even more painful than that of Commander Cunningham and Major Devereux in 1941, resurrendered Wake to the United States. With fitting regard for the tradition of Wake, the surrender was received by a Marine officer, Brigadier General L.H.M. Sanderson, USMC, and the first American again to set foot on the soil of Wake was Colonel Walter L.J. Bayler, USMC, celebrated as "the last man off Wake Island," which he had left on 21 December 1941.

A detailed narrative of the resurrender and reoccupation of Wake is given in General Sanderson's official report, which is now quoted in entirety (but without certain enclosures thereto):

Serial 001165

United States Marine Corps

Headquarters, Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, F.M.F., c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California.

7 September 1945.

From: Commander Wake Surrender Acceptance Unit, CTU 96.14.1, Brigadier General L.H.M. Sanderson, U.S.M.C.
To: Commander Marshalls Gilberts Surrender and Occupation Command, C.T.G. 96.14 (C.T.F. 96), Rear Admiral W.K. Harrill, U.S.N.
Subject: Surrender Acceptance of Wake Atoll on 4 September 1945, Narrative of.
Reference: (a) ComMarGilsArea Operation Plan No. 4-45.
Enclosures: (A) Surrender Document.
(B) Copy of General Order Number One, Wake Atoll.
(C) Proclamation.

  1. The Wake Surrender Acceptance Unit got under way from Ebeye for Wake late Sunday afternoon, 2 September 1945, aboard U.S.S. Levy (DE 162) which was accompanied by U.S.S. Lehardy (DE 20) and U.S.S. Charles R. Greer (DE 23). ComCortDiv 11, Commander H.E. Cross, U.S.N.R. (CTU 96.14.2), and Commander Prospective Occupation Unit, Commander W. Masek, U.S.N. (Ret.) (C.T.U. 96.14.4), were also aboard U.S.S. Levy.
  2. A preliminary conference concerning the surrender acceptance and occupation of Wake was held that same afternoon in the wardroom. At this time, Commander Cross was requested to furnish 10 bluejackets with rifles from each ship for the flag raising ceremony to take place on Wake Island on Tuesday, 4 September 1945. Also requested for this ceremony were 20 bluejackets armed with pistols to form a cordon around the area. Aspects of naval support, communications, and occupation were discussed.
  3. At a conference held at 1400 M. on Monday the following day all details concerning the operation were discussed. Arrangements were made for complying with various requests of press correspondents and photographers. A preliminary reading of the Surrender Document and General Order Number 1 was made. All hands. participating in the surrender and flag-raising ceremonies were carefully instructed in their duties.
  4. Our force arrived off Wake at 0700 M. on Tuesday, 4 September, the following day. General Quarters was sounded and the ships closed to 1,000 yards off the channel entrance to the lagoon. There was no evidence of enemy activity outside of one American Motor Launch, which proved later to be carrying the Japanese

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    Commander, Admiral Sakaibara and his staff, plus one Japanese assault boat. These boats were cruising in the vicinity of three mooring buoys 800 meters off the channel entrance.

  5. Admiral Sakaibara and his staff (unarmed) came alongside just prior to 0800 and were taken aboard without honors and escorted to the boat deck where they were introduced by Colonel Walker, U.S.M.C., to General Sanderson's staff and to Commanders Cross and Masek (there was no handshaking). After all hands were seated, General Sanderson arrived on the boat deck. All hands were again seated after introductions and the press was given permission to take photographs at will. A Japanese Imperial Army Colonel accompanied Admiral Sakaibara.
  6. A Japanese Nisei was introduced by General Sanderson as an American citizen with full authority to act as official interpreter. General Sanderson announced his authority as representative of Admiral Harrill, Commander Marshalls-Gilberts Area; the letter of authorization was handed to Admiral Sakaibara for inspection.
  7. Admiral Sakaibara was next questioned about the instructions which had been previously dropped by plane. He stated that he was busily engaged in complying with those instructions. General Order Number 1 was then brought forward and tendered to the Japanese. Admiral Sakaibara stated that these instructions varied somewhat from previous instructions, but that he would comply with them in all respects.
  8. The Surrender Document (including Japanese translations) was handed to Admiral Sakaibara for his inspection. After inspection of the document by himself and staff he announced that he was ready to sign. At this time he stated that he was sorry Japan had lost the War, but was happy that Americans were accepting his surrender. Two official originals (both translations) of the Surrender Document were signed, first by Admiral Sakaibara, then by General Sanderson at 0819 Mike zone time. These originals were sealed and one original of both translations was handed to the Japanese for retention. A few copies were also signed for record purposes.
  9. General Order Number 1 was again brought forth, signed and promulgated by General Sanderson, and handed to the Japanese for compliance.
  10. Admiral Sakaibara was requested to have his naval staff, the army staff, and a platoon of 40 enlisted at the boat landing at 1330 to take part in the flag raising ceremony.
  11. Various items of information were then obtained from the Japanese. These items included questions on possible prisoners of war and civilian internees on Wake, ammunition, armament, marine and land mines, strength of garrison, condition of airfield runways, whether landings were possible in the lagoon, number useable vehicles, location of American graves, number of sick and nature of illnesses, et cetera. We had brought some medicine and a small amount of food for their garrison.
  12. The above having been completed, press representatives requested a press interview from Admiral Sakaibara who granted them a few moments; this interview took place in the wardroom.
  13. Admiral Sakaibara then requested permission to leave the ship in order to inform his command that the surrender had been accepted and in order to prepare for the flag-raising ceremony. This was granted. The Japanese flag boat was called alongside and the Japanese departed at about 1000 M.
  14. A small boat the Lehardy with segments of a flag pole and necessary tackle, plus a working party came alongside, picked up CO. Walter L.J. Bayler, U.S.M.C., and departed for shore at about 1020 M. Immediately thereafter, Levy moored to center mooring buoy 800 meters off the channel entrance. A small boat carrying correspondents and photographers was dispatched to the beach.
  15. Another small boat was called alongside and took ashore Commander, Cross, Commander Masek, Lieutenant Colonel Roberson, U.S.M.C., and members of an inspection party to make a preliminary inspection of the island and to spot a location for the flag-raising ceremony. This was selected at a point about 100 yards southeast of landing at head of boat basin.
  16. Meanwhile Colonel Bayler, the last American to leave Wake prior to Japanese occupation had stepped ashore. He was the first American to set foot on Wake after almost 4 years of war with Japan.
  17. While the other two DE's were being nested on Levy, the inspection continued ashore. After a preliminary inspection of the airfield runways by vehicle, a scouting line was formed and the entire 5,700 feet of the main east-west runway was inspected by personnel walking the entire length on foot.
  18. At about 1130, a PBM from Eniwetok made a successful landing in the lagoon. Part of the crew came ashore to make a report.
  19. At 1300 the preliminary inspection party and members of the press returned to the boat landing. Admiral Sakaibara was told to place his staff and unarmed guard on the south side of the flag pole. The was accomplished. The Marine Color Guard and flag raising detail were mustered on the dock inboard of a platoon of 30 bluejacket riflemen. A cordon of 20 bluejackets with pistols were stationed at regular intervals in the cleared area around the flag pole. Admiral Sakaibara requested and was granted permission to remain on the dock to receive General Sanderson as he came ashore.
  20. At 1330 General Sanderson and his Chief of Staff Colonel Walker arrived at the boat dock and disembarked. They were greeted by American Staff Officers and by Admiral Sakaibara. General Sanderson with Admiral Sakaibara on his left, followed by his staff, the colors, and the color platoon, then marched to the north side of the flag pole and halted. Admiral Sakaibara was ordered to rejoin his staff.
  21. General Sanderson read a Proclamation and ordered the Colors to be hoisted. With the platoon at

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    "Present Arms," with both American and Japanese saluting, the Colors were then hoisted and two-blocked while the notes of "To the Colors" were sounded on the bugle. As the Colors reached the peak of the flag pole, the Levy commenced and completed firing a twenty-one gun salute.

  22. Commander Masek, the Prospective Atoll Commander, was then ordered front and center and received command of Wake Atoll from General Sanderson.
  23. General Sanderson informed Admiral Sakaibara that the United States had taken possession of Wake Atoll, that Commander Masek had relieved him of the Command of Wake Atoll, and that henceforward he would receive his orders from the senior naval officer present.
  24. General Sanderson ordered Admiral Sakaibara to march off his troops. This was done after each Japanese had individually saluted Admiral Sakaibara, then General Sanderson. The American contingent was then marched off.
  25. Shortly thereafter, General Sanderson requested Admiral Sakaibara to conduct him on a formal inspection tour of the island. The airfield was visited first, then the inspection party moved on to the northern end of Wake Island, crossed a wooden bridge to Peale Island, retraced this route and stopped at Admiral Sakaibara's quarters where the latter proffered his Samurai Sword to General Sanderson as a personal gift for Admiral Harrill. On this inspection no Japanese troops were in sight; Japanese military police were stationed at 100-yard intervals along all roads.
  26. The inspection party then proceeded to the scene of the American graves which consisted of two mounds mounted by freshly painted white crosses. One grave had been dug by Americans and one by Japanese. It was reported by the Japanese that 40 Americans were buried in the two graves.
  27. The inspection party then returned to the dock where a Japanese flute and picture of little or no value were offered to General Sanderson. These gifts were accepted, but later returned in accordance with instructions. The inspection party then embarked aboard boats for Levy. A dispatch report was sent to Commander Marshalls-Gilberts Area immediately following the surrenders. later that evening a dispatch was sent reporting the conclusion of the flag raising ceremony and the inspection of the Atoll. Early the next morning General Sanderson, his staff, and members of the press departed by two twin-engined planes which had made successful landings on the airfield that morning. Prior to departure from the airfield Admiral Sakaibara offered a nonalcoholic beverage (cider) to General Sanderson and his staff.
  28. On return to Kwajalein, General Sanderson reported in person to Admiral Harrill.
  29. American troops wore plain Khaki with no neckties. Bluejackets were dressed in whites for the flag raising ceremony. Japanese naval personnel wore field blouses and trousers of light gray with boots, Sam Browne belts, and kepis. Japanese Army personnel wore the same uniform made of a brown-colored cloth.
  30. The attitude of our people toward the Japanese was at all times serious; at no time was either familiarity or harshness in evidence. The Japanese appeared quite anxious to please, going out of their way to be helpful. Admiral Sakaibara was cheerful and cooperative, and appeared to possess a high degree of intelligence.


[1] This officer was subsequently convicted of murder by the U.S. War Crimes Tribunal, and was sentenced to hang.
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