After the Signing of the Documents of Surrender, the next four months (Occupation Duty) seems anti-climactic somehow. The Navy had the onerous task of getting millions of sailors home – a reverse order lottery – during which time men who had served their required time got to go home, and newer arrivals did not. By the time the ship left Japanese waters in early January 1946, about a third of the crew was still on board. Most departed the ship when she arrived in San Francisco, but a skeleton crew rode her up to Bremerton, WA, where she was decommissioned.
Meanwhile, the ship’s crew was tasked with “demilitaization duty” on Eastern Honshu, in the general area of Tokyo Bay. I have included below a sample from CA-69 Action Reports, retrieved from the National Archives by Bill.
Without a doubt, the Signing of the Documents of Surrender on Sept 2, 1945 filled the sailors on the Boston with satisfaction, closure and thoughts of returning Home.
From Frank Studenski’s War Diary:
September 4, 1945: Today after the Peace treaty was signed a lot of the ships from the task groups were heading back home with “Homeward Bound” pennants flying. We watched a lot of the ships leaving Tokyo Bay.
The crew of the Boston was not so lucky. Going home was going to be back-burnered for a while.
OCCUPATION DUTY: We received orders to form a task group for occupation duty. The task unit composed of the Boston, two destroyers and an U.D.T., the unit is commanded by our captain. Our duties were to move up and down the coast of Honshu, to inspect and insure demilitarization of Japanese coast defense, suicide boat bases and midget submarine bases . . .
We’ll talk more about this. Some random pics from the Boston files at the National Archives:
Not all Task Force ships could fit into Tokyo Bay for the historic day. Many of the warships that had endured all those Battles and Campaigns were stacked up in Sagami Wan Bay outside of Tokyo Bay waiting for a “spot” to drop anchor and bear witness to the Signing of the Articles of Surrender. The day was rife with politics and political decisions – not the least of which was the presence of General MacArthur, the polarizing character who was a threat to run against Harry Truman in the next election. The selection of the Battleship Missouri (the johnny-come-lately that entered the Pacific War just in time for Okinawa) – Harry Truman’s home state . . . and last, but not least, the British task group ships, who finally got around to go the Pacific and joined TF58 – around the same time as the Missouri (mop-up duty).
No room for the Boston.
Putting politics aside, I smile as I transcribe Frank Studenski’s diary entries for the couple of days leading up to the 2nd:
August 31, 1945 Today is another normal day. This bay is filled with the Pacific fleet. This afternoon some of the ships weighed anchor and entered Tokyo Bay.
Anchored in Sagami Wan before entered Tokyo Bay [sic], the off duty watch had movies on the fantail at 1800 hours. May watch was on Quad 5. We were still on Condition Three and I was Gun Captain, I wanted to see the end of the movie and told the phone talker to stay awake, if air defense checks the quads. I went back to se the end of the movie and about a half hour later my name was called over the P.A. and was told to report to the quarter deck on the double. The phone talker fell asleep and air defense could not raise Quad 5. I was given a deck court martial for violating General Order #5 (I shall not leave my post without being properly relieved.) I was given ten days breqad and water with full rations every three days. I’ll never forget those ten days.
September 1, 1945 Almost half the ships left here and are now anchored in Tokyo Bay.
September 2, 1945 Today is “V. J. Day” with the signing of the Peace Treaty. I am looking forward to some liberty in Tokyo.
August 10, 1945 We met the carriers this morning, the water was a little choppy and while recovering our 4-SCI Seahawks, one of them cracked up, turned over and sank, we lost the pilot. During the night while on mid-watch, I heard the first peace rumor. It spread through all of the gun crews on watch and created a lot of excitement through out all of the gun mounts. Everyone coming off watch was not able to sleep.
August 11, 1945 Bad weather held up our operations today, we did not hear any more news on the surrender.
August 12, 1945 Planes took off to hit northern Honshu, no Jap planes came out after us, a few planes were shot down over the target.
August 13, 1945 Planes took off to hit the Tokyo area this morning. C.A.P. shot down several Jap planes. Quite a few planes came out after us. Peace rumors flew back and forth and we will retire from the area for a few days.
August 14, 1945 Today we moved out of the Tokyo area and will not launch any planes against Japan. We have our C.A.P. on patrol and there are a lot of bogies in the area.
August 15, 1945 This morning we returned to the Tokyo area and the carriers had launched their planes for the first strike when we heard the final news of the Japanese surrender. So the war ended for the U.S.S. Boston, 21 months after we left home port.
War Diary U.S.S. Boston CA69 by Frank Studenski