The head bloke and the mate handed their swords over, they didn’t smile much at all through that ceremony and geez, it went on for a long time, they weren’t happy. We were but we were on the winning edge. After they were finished, both sides got up off the table and then they had another room and we all had a drink with them.
Navy veteran, Bill McDonald. Read more about his experience.
On 15 August 1945, Japanese Emperor Hirohito surrendered to US General Douglas MacArthur aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Over the following month, Japanese garrisons throughout the Pacific started surrendering. In Bougainville, Australian forces dropped leaflets telling Japanese troops about the Emperor's surrender. They did this to prevent further bloodshed.
On 8 September 1945, the surrender of Japanese forces in Bougainville was signed at Torokina. General Officer Commanding II Australian Corps, Lieutenant General Stanley Savige, accepted the surrender of Lieutenant General Masatane Kanda, commander of the 17th Imperial Japanese Army, and Vice Admiral Tomoshiga Samejima, commander of the 8th Fleet.
Bougainville campaign controversy
The Bougainville campaign was one of the costliest for Australia in the Pacific War in terms of casualties. The campaign didn't affect the outcome of the war, and even at the time, it was controversial. By 1945, Australian forces were being left out of the major US battles that would defeat Japan. They were relegated to 'mopping up' campaigns in Papua and New Guinea, and Borneo.
Throughout 1945, the Bougainville campaign was robustly debated in the Australian Parliament.
It is proper that we should ask what is the objective of this [Bougainville] campaign ... So apparently the objective of the Government was the liquidation of those [90,000 Japanese] troops because they were colonising the islands, and, although not able to continue their aggressive movement towards Australia, they were not impotent. As to the colonisation that was going on, no one can take that seriously ... If there is any colonisation going on, it is very primitive. What then has been the result of the campaign indicated by General Blamey? According to the Acting Minister for the Army, in five months of fighting, during which tens of thousands have been tied up either in operations or in supply, we have accounted for little more than 6,000 killed of the 90,000 Japanese referred to. What has been the cost to Australia of that campaign? I refer to the report of the Acting Minister for the Army ... I suggest that honorable members examine his report very carefully, and if they do, they will reach the conclusion, I think, that, in making out a case for the Government on the matter of equipment, he has, at the same time, made out a most damning indictment of the Government for having undertaken the present campaign at all.
- The Honourable Harold Holt MP, Member for Fawkner, speaking in the Australian House of Representatives, 26 April 1945. Read the full debate.
In the decades since, it has often been portrayed as a waste of Australian lives for minimal gain. But some historians argue that the Bougainville campaign was successful in meeting the government's aims. These included having Australian forces working to liberate Australian territory.