On 28 July 1945, the Japanese were delivered an ultimatum to surrender. It was not until mid-August, however, following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the invasion of Manchuria by Soviet forces, that this was agreed. 15 August was celebrated as victory over Japan day with a two-day holiday declared in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia.
Although pleased at peace after years of warfare, Samuel Rich’s diary for 15 August 1945 also focused on some immediate and practical concerns:
“VJ Day! Announced at midnight on 14/15 August. We didn’t hear first till the morning papers… Today is VJ and tomorrow is VJ + 1 both public holidays. This means bread queues and trouble to get enough victuals….”
While 15 August was celebrated as VJ day, it was not until 2 September that the Japanese administration, under General Koiso Kuniaki, signed a formal surrender document. This document was signed in the presence of General MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, on board USS Missouri. Two weeks later, on 12 September, another Japanese surrender ceremony was held at the Municipal Building of Singapore, officially ending the Japanese occupation of South East Asia. This formal surrender was accepted by Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, South East Asia.
Lord Mountbatten recorded in his diary for 12 September:
“To receive the unconditional surrender of half a million enemy soldiers, sailors and airmen must be an event which happens to few people in the world. I was very conscious that this was the greatest day of my life…”
[Philip Ziegler ed. Personal diary of Admiral the Lord Louis Mountbatten Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia, 1943-1946 (London, 1988) pp. 245-6]