14 August 1945, V-J Day… War ends!

The above film footage was shot on 14 August 1945, V-J Day (Victory in Japan Day) in Honolulu, Hawaii … This is three minutes of Kodachrome film that may bring tears to your eyes. It did to ours. -Bill and Sandra

Bill McGee recalls V-J Day …

1. Aug 45 Philippines

Celebration in the Philippines, August 1945 (National Archives)

“On the morning of 15 August (14 August in Washington, D.C.), I was stationed in Subic Bay in the Philippines, along with hundreds of thousands of other military personnel, staging for the invasion of Japan.

“Then we heard the news over the Air Force Radio Network: Japan surrenders! Emperor Hirohito and Prime Minister Suzuki accept the Allies’ terms of unconditional surrender!

“In an instant, shouts of joy filled the morning air. Fog horns, sirens, and every other conceivable noisemaking device were put in action. Work stopped. Strangers hugged each other. Sailors raced to the canteen. It was on everyone’s lips: The war is over!

“Fire and salvage tugs began pumping hundreds of fountains of water up in the air. Other ships broke out fire pumps and portable ‘handy billies’ to add more spray and mist to the scene. Small craft, and some not-so-small, got underway and formed columns that cruised in figure eights around the Bay. The victory parade lasted for hours. Cans of beer and bottles of bourbon, formerly hidden, now appeared. I stood by the Bay and watched the celebration. I was thankful I didn’t have Shore Patrol duty on that day.

“In the evening, searchlights lit up the sky in sweeping crisscross patterns as star shells and Very pistols added brilliant colors to the dark canvas. Every pyrotechnic locker in the harbor was emptied that night. You could read by the light of the fireworks.

“Those of us who were there were relieved we had made it through the war … but there were somber thoughts about our shipmates who weren’t so lucky.”

(Excerpted from  Chapter 15, “The Imperial Sun Sets”,  Bluejacket Odyssey, 1942-1946: Guadalcanal to Bikini, Naval Armed Guard in the Pacific , by William L. McGee.)

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