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Surrender On The Air

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Continued from the July 2012 Home Page. To go to an archived version of that page, click here: July 2012 Home Page Archive. To return to this month's actual Home Page, click on the Signal Corps orange Home Page menu item in the upper left corner of this page.


The chief of the Army Communications System, General Frank Stoner, ordered that all of the army stations around the world try to break in on one of the Japanese stations. He said that it was the greatest concentration of radio power ever focused on one station. Stations world-wide were calling. Finally, near midnight, the Japanese station, JUM, while working Singapore heard the U. S. radio station and asked the Singapore station to stand-by so he could listen to WTA Manila.

WTA was swamped with calls from stations all over the Pacific telling WTA that the Japanese station JUM was answering. WTA sent the MacArthur messages and received a receipt at 00:25 A. M. on August 16, 1945.

Japanese surrender messages - August 17 - 19, 1945Another Japanese radio operator at Japanese station JNP called WTA and asked, “Do you want an answer to your message?” The American officer-in-charge sent a very emphatic and resounding "YES" to the Japanese station. The channel to the Japanese Imperial Headquarters was set up. The planning for the surrender arrangements went on for three days. This was the surrender on the air.

The final formal message to the Imperial Command was a long document that listed in detail all of the prisoner of war locations and troop locations and how they should be turned over to Allied authorities. It was good that the Emperor had ordered this since in general most of the forces complied. The envoys from the Emperor were ordered to come to Manila for the surrender conference. The message detailed that they should fly in an airplane painted white without markings and they should fly a certain route. This was in order that they would not be accidentally shot down.

The Japanese representatives flew to Manila, landed at Nichols Field, and met with General MacArthur and his staff in the air-conditioned conference room of the 805th Signal Service Company at the City Hall that was the headquarters of General MacArthur and his staff. The room was air-conditioned, of course, because air-conditioning was required for the operation of the SIGSALY terminal equipment. This was most likely the only air-conditioned conference room in the devastated city of Manila at that time. History does not record this as being the location of the initial surrender conferences because the existence and location of the SIGSALY system was restricted information and authors did not have this information. They assumed that the meetings took place at the Manila Hotel where General MacArthur had his living quarters. This was not true. I verified this information in 1945 at Manila with the 805th officers who were present at the time. It was logical that the meetings would have been held at MacArthur’s headquarters where his staff was located and in the air-conditioned conference room of SIGSALY where immediate access by secret telephone or teletype was available to the Pentagon or White House. The culmination of the surrender on the air, conference, and agreements made in the SIGSALY conference room of Detachment 4 of the 805th Signal Service Company resulted in the formal surrender signing on the battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945. 

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City Hall, where the 805th maintained SIGSALY conference room was located. This view shows the entrance that MacArthur used when he entered the building.

Manila City Hall - 1945 - View #1

Moving around the corner to the right, this is the view that was seen. It hardly looks like the same building.

Manila City Hall - 1945 - View #2

Surrende On The Air - May 1946Editor's Note: Many stories have been written of the final surrender of Japan to the US. The story written here is an original composition by Donald E. Mehl, Army Signal OCS Class 44-35, written for His story is based on his personal experiences and research. Don served with the 805th, the unit that assembled and maintained the Top Secret communication equipment and facilities used in the surrender and was responsible for the facilities during that period. One of the earliest retellings of this story was produced by the Signal Corps itself in a 1946 publication. To tie the stories together and do homage to the original we have reused the title from that article for Don's article here: Surrender On The Air. Interested readers can download and read the original May 1946 article by clicking on the icon at right.


Top Secret Communications Of WWII - By Don MehlThe full story on the Top Secret SIGSALY and SIGTOT communication systems, including background information on the Japanese surrender, its use in Europe, and much more can be found in a book Don published called Top Secret Communications of World War II. The book is available on our PX page. Click the icon at right to get your copy.

This page originally posted 1 July 2012 

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