THIS WAS WRITTEN BY MAJOR ERNEST KENNY (family member of Lucia Lister) TO HIS WIFE PEGGY.

ERNEST WAS A WITNESS TO THE SURRENDER OF THE JAPANESE IN SEPTEMBER 1945 BECAUSE HE WAS A STAFF MEMBER OF GENERAL CLARKSON AND TRAVELED WITH THE GENERAL DURING WWII – THUS HE WAS ENTITLED TO BE PRESENT FOR THIS EVENT.

Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV
General, United States Army

As the senior field commander of US and Filipino forces under Douglas MacArthur, he had tactical responsibility for resisting the Japanese invasion that began in late December 1941. Pushed back from beachheads in Lingayen Gulf, his Philippine forces withdrew onto the Bataan Peninsula early in January 1942, where they occupied well prepared defensive positions and commanded the entrance to Manila Bay. In throwing back a major Japanese assault in January the defenders earned name of "battling bastards of Bataan." When MacArthur was ordered off Bataan in March 1942, Wainwright, promoted to temporary Lieutenant General, succeeded to command of US Army Forces in the Far East, a command immediately afterward redesignated US Forces in the Philippines. The Japanese attacks resumed in earnest in April.

A Small core of the now starving, ill and unsupplied garrison pulled farther back onto island fortress of Corregidor, leaving 70,000 defenders on Bataan to surrender on April 9. The Japanese gained a foothold on Corregidor on May 5 against a furious defense, and the next day he was forced to surrender the 3500 men on the island. Under orders that he was forced to broadcast, local commanders elsewhere in the Philippines surrendered one by one, and on June 9 the US command in the Philippines ceased to exist.

He was then held in prison camps in northern Luzon, Formosa, and Manchuria until he was liberated by Russian troops in August 1945. After witnessing the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri on September 2, he returned to the Philippines to receive the surrender of the local Japanese commander. A hero's welcome in the US was accompanied by promotion to General and the awarding of the Medal of Honor.

Philippines

 

SEPTEMBER 1945

My Dearest Peggy


If only I were a writer to do justice to yesterday’s events, this would be by far the most interesting of all my letters. However I’ll do my best to give you an eyewitness account of the surrender  of Lt. Gen. Tomoyuki Yamashita to Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright and British Lt. Gen. Percival, and the events leading up to the ceremony. My participation, as an eyewitness only, began at 5:30 yesterday morning. With four others on Major General CLARDSON
Division staff and Major General Innis (Bull) Swift, Corps commander, who had spent the night at our headquarters, I drove to a nearby airport to meet Lt. Gen. Wainwright, taking with us transportation for the party – all enroute to Bagiuo. There were three sedans (Packard, and 2 Buicks) and about eight jeeps in our convoy. There were enough stars on the vehicles to form several good size constellations. After waiting about an hour, during which time the pilots served us coffee and the photographers prepared for the arrival snapping pictures of the group to test the flash bulb mechanism on two of the cameras, the C-47 carrying Wainwright’s party appeared overhead and dropped a message that they were landing at another field forty miles away and for them to be met at that point. Clarkson and Swift took off in two liaison planes which travel about two thirds as fast as the transport and followed at an ever increasing distance from the C-47. In the meantime, Lt. Col. Faulconer and Lt. Farrer (Clarkson’s Aide) and I in the Packard led the convoy at full speed toward the other field. We ordered an Military Police escort to meet us at a nearby bario, but it was late so we did not wait. With all the horns blowing full blast on the three sedans, we had one of the wildest rides I’ve ever taken thru densely traveled areas. We left the stars uncovered although there were no general officers riding in the convoy. I leaned out one side waving oncoming vehicles off the road while Farrer waved them off the other side. Faulconer being about the same statue as “Skinny” Wainwright, waved wearily at all the wide eyed G.I.’s and natives as we passed, and no doubt many mistook him for Wainwright. After traveling at breakneck speed to within five minutes of the airstrip, we were  met by Clarkson’s plane zooming low over us. The Cub pilot yelled directing us to turn the convoy around and return to the first airstrip; so off we went in a cloud of dust again. About half way back we met our MP escort, which had been trying to catch up with us. It turned around as we approached and with sirens wailing blazed the way for us. Although there were many close shaves with carabou carts and natives, only one accident resulted. That occurred when we were trying to cross a narrow bridge at the same time a pony cart was crossing. The pony shied causing us to slide to an abrupt stop. The two other sedans managed to stop, but the last four jeeps traveling too closely tele-scoped damaging one very badly. That didn’t slow us down. In fact upon our return to the airport, we had to wait about five minutes be- fore Wainwright’s party arrived in three sedans that had met them at the other airstrip. We reorganized the convoy after introductions and then started up the mountains to Bagiuo with Faulconer, Lt. Col. Paris and I still riding in the Packard, only this time the stars were covered. The remainder of the trip was uneventful except for one incident that struck me as very amusing at the time. About half way up, the convoy stopped along the mountain road overlooking a deep gorge in order that anyone so desiring could relieve himself. To see so many generals, including two who were foremost in the present news all over the world, standing in a line gazing out into space while nonchalantly attending to their immediate needs, was really a sight. In fact after a few seconds someone laughed and everyone joined in which made the spectacle even more ludicrous. I had my camera but didn’t think it quite respect- ful to record that “human interest” scene. Arriving in Bagiuo, we drove to the hastily established headquarters of Sixth Army (there only by reason of the ceremony) where coffee and sandwiches were served while Wainwright and Percival were briefed on  the surrender procedure. At this time I met Wainwright’s aide (a Lt. Col.) and two other officers on his staff. They were much more talkative than he, and told us of some very painful but interesting experiences while prisoners of the Japs. They also described the surrender ceremony in which they had participated the day before aboard the battleship, Missouri. After an hour at Army headquarters, our convoy, now increased by three more sedans, moved to the other side of Bagiuo to the $150,000 U.S. High Commissioner’s house, the showplace of the Philippine summer capital. There was a huge throng of soldiers and civilians outside the gate entrance to the grounds. On the lawn in front of the house, there was another large crowd of soldiers who had managed to talk their way past the entrance guards. Dozens of MP’s were everywhere. Following on the heels of Maj. Gen. Clarkson and Swift, Paris, Faulconer, and I barged right on into the large room where the signing was to take place, holding our breath for fear we’d be ordered out. The room was almost filled to capacity with generals and full colonels, many of whom had been patiently waiting since 0900, when the surrender was originally scheduled. Due to the delay caused when the C-47 pilot decided our field was too muddy for landing, the ceremony didn’t actually take place until 1200, noon. Our allied officers sat on high ornate chairs facing Yamashita and his 3 staff officers (including Admiral Okichi) who were seated on small folding type chairs placing them on a lower level. A Jap soldier interpreter stood behind each Jap officer, and behind the interpreters stood a battery of photographers. As the Japanese filed into the room, Yamashita started to sit down, but he was ordered to remain standing. Everyone stood at attention when Wainwright and Percival entered. During the ceremony nearly all eyes were upon Yamashita, the now somewhat “toothless tiger of Malaya”, or better known to us who fought him as the “gopher of Luzon”. Yamashita looked sour, glum, and defeated. He kept his eyes diverted from the Allied General most of the time. You no doubt heard the broadcast of the acceptance and signing of the surrender documents of which there were four. It was over in a very few minutes. Everything was handled in a very firm business like manner. It was a most impressive occasion, and the air was tense with the importance of what was taking place. I took several pictures but am afraid the many 200 watt bulbs in the huge chandelier pro- viding sufficient light for the newsreel photographers – will blur all my pictures. Yamashita's uniform was clean but not pressed His officer’s and interpreter’s uniforms were frayed and showed much wear. All officers wore their decorations. Among the field commanders present whose divisions played a heavy part in smashing Yamashita’s forces, Were 37th Division, Maj. Gen. Robert S. Bieghtler, 32d Division, Maj. Gen. William H. Gill, 33dDivision's Maj. Gen. Clarkson, 38th Division, Maj. Gen. F. A. Irvin and Colonel Russell Volckmann Luzon guerrilla leader. Four Parker pens, obtained from the post exchange were used in signing the surrender documents. Wainwright, Lt. Gen. Styler, Maj Gen Leavey each received one as a souvenir. I belived the fourth goes to Pres. Truman. Faulconer obtained the prize souvenir - the blotter containing the four signatures of Lt. Gen. Yamashita, when viewed in a mirror. The colonel who handled the documents from one signer to the other also acting as blotter boy, made the mistake of leaving the blotter the blotter on the table. As soon as the Jap officers were taken from the room as prisoners of war, the ending of the ceremony was announced, and Faulconer standing only a few feet from the table pounced upon the blotter. He also picked up a printed copy of the program which he later had autographed by Wainwright and Lt. Gen. Sir Arthur Percival who surrendered to Yamashita at Singapore. After the ceremony, Wainwright and Percival attended a press conference at which Faulconer and I were present. There was a  vast difference in the simple, direct, unaffected style in which in which Wainwright spoke compared to Percival's English manner. No doubt you will have read all about this surrender many times before you receive this-but you'll be hearing of it again when I get home because it was the highlight of all my army experiences-

 

All my love

Ernest

 

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