15 August 1945: USS Harmony Fires Final Shot of WWII – 15 August 2015 Marks the 70th Anniversary


Different battle ships claimed to have fired the final shot of World Struggle II, however that distinction goes to the USS Harmony CL-10, a four-stack gentle cruiser named for the Massachusetts city the place the primary ordered shot of the American Revolution-“the shot heard ‘around the world”-was fired.

“I had no thought I used to be current for this historic occasion,” Thaddeus Buczko of Salem, Massachusetts, informed me in a latest interiew, “till I examine it a few years later in a veterans’ journal.” On the time, 19-year-old Buczko was serving within the U. S. Navy aboard the USS Bearss (pronounced “barce”). The Bearss was one of many destroyers that comprised Process Drive 92 serving within the Northern Pacific Ocean, together with the sunshine cruisers Harmony, Richmond, and Trenton.

By 15 August 1945, Nazi Germany had surrendered to the Allied Forces in Europe (Eight Could), and atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki, Japan (9 August). Did Buczko and his shipmates have a way that the battle was ending? “No,” Buczko says. “We heard that the Germans had surrendered, however we had been all the way in which over within the Pacific. We had been nonetheless at battle. We heard concerning the bombs being dropped in August, however we had been unaware of the results and had no thought what was going to occur subsequent. We had been nonetheless below orders.”

On 15 August 1945, Process Drive 92 bombarded transport and shore installations within the Japanese Kuril Islands. The Harmony was tasked with opening fireplace on Shasukotan Island, firing “salvo after salvo” along with her six-inch “twin weapons” and the five-inch weapons of the Process Drive’s destroyers, together with the Bearss, in keeping with the account by Fred A. Lumb that Thaddeus Buczko learn years later.

Lumb continues: “Eventually Capt. C. A. Rumble, commanding the Harmony and the little activity group, gave the ceasefire order. The destroyers’ weapons grew to become silent. A couple of minute later, Lt. Comdr. Daniel Model, the gunnery officer, excessive aloft in ahead fireplace management, noticed to it that yet another spherical was fired by the Harmony.” As a result of the final shot had mis-fired simply earlier than the ceasefire went into impact, the ship needed to obtain particular permission from the Process Drive Commander to fireside one final time reasonably than retrieve the ammunition manually. That was the final shot of the battle.

Ensign Robert P. Crossley of the Harmony described what occurred subsequent: “Information of Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Give up phrases… was obtained aboard the Harmony by radio as she steamed towards the Aleutians following the Navy’s closing offensive strike towards Japanese territory… the shot heard ‘around the world from the Musket of the Minutemen of Harmony and Lexington on April 19, 1775 had re-echoed with even higher fury and that means as this proud bearer of the minuteman custom fired the ultimate naval gun salvo of World Struggle II, a number of seconds after 8:06 p. m. (Japan time).”

Fred Lumb concludes: “Throughout the hour, Ens. Robert Crossley was within the coding room, simply off the radio shack, typing Harmony’s declare to having fired the final American shot of the battle.” The Navy quickly verified their declare.

The crew aboard the Bearss obtained the information of Japan’s give up by loud speaker, with only a few particulars. Buczko recollects, “Even once we had been knowledgeable that the Japanese had surrendered, we questioned if the Japanese ships and pilots on the market knew it. We had been nonetheless ever-vigilant. We might nonetheless be attacked.”

As for listening to the battle was over? “We had been all simply matter-of-fact,” Buczko says. We had been very drained. There was no elation, no jubilation, such as you hear about everybody within the States.” Within the Aleutian Islands, the Bearss and the Harmony repaired harm to the ships, re-supplied, re-armed, and ready for orders. They ready for boarding events. “We knew we had been moving into,” Buczko explains, “however we did not know when or how.”

On 2 September 1945, the Japanese and Individuals signed the official give up doc aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Within the Aleutian Islands, orders got here for the Bearss and the Hood, one other destroyer within the Process Drive, to rendezvous with a Japanese ship carrying the emissaries who would signal U. S. Naval Emergency Occupation Order No. 1. The Order would flip over the Ominato Guard District Space to the US, particularly: “That portion of the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido between Latitudes Forty Levels and Thirty minutes and Forty-two Levels North and between Longitudes 139 levels and 142 levels East is hereby declared the Ominato Guard District Emergency Occupation Zone.”

The Bearss and Hood rendezvoused with the Japanese delegation’s ship within the Tsugaru Straits, “a fifteen-mile-wide physique of water separating the northern coast of Honshu and the Island of Hokaido,” Quartermaster Edwin E. Douglass wrote in his account of the day.

QM Douglass continues: “The Japanese crew had painted a white cross on their ship’s funnel, the symbol of give up. Because the ships approached one another, it was certainly a tense second for each man aboard till the Japanese raised the worldwide code of flags giving us assurance her intentions had been strictly peace loving.” Even so, whereas one of many Hood’s small boats went out to move the emissaries to the Bearss, the Bearss and the Hood circled the Japanese ship, weapons educated on their potential goal. The Bearss additionally took on U. S. Marines and media personnel. Whereas everybody boarded the Bearss, Buczko was top-side manning two 36″ search lights, observing all of it, however having “no thought of what was happening,” he remembers.

The Japanese ship guided the Bearss and the Hood via the closely mined Tsugaru Straights into Matsu Bay for occupation obligation. “Once we pulled in,” Buczko recollects, “I keep in mind observing Japanese individuals abandoning town in haste for the mountains, carry their belongings or utilizing something with wheels. I feel had been in concern of the occupation forces.”

The USA and Japan signed Emergency Occupation Order No. 1 on 9 September 1945 aboard the USS Panamint, the flagship of Vice Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, Commander, North Pacific Drive and Space. Among the many Order’s directions, the Japanese would offer:

  • Lists of all Japanese “land, air, and anti-craft models, exhibiting places and energy in officers and males”
  • Lists of all plane (army, naval, and civilian), naval vessels, and service provider ships, their sort, situation, and places
  • Detailed data, together with maps, of “all mines, minefields and different obstacles to motion by land, sea or air”
  • “Places and descriptions of all army installations and institutions… along with plans and drawings of all such fortifications, installations and institutions”
  • “Places of all camps and different locations of detention of all United Nations prisoners of battle”

Additional stipulations regarded minesweeping, and the supply of transportation, labor, supplies, and amenities as directed by Admiral Fletcher.

In his introductory remarks to the Occupation Order, Admiral Fletcher expressed his hope that the occupation would proceed with out “any incident that may solely improve the sufferings of the Japanese individuals.”

Concluding his private account of the signing, QM Douglass wrote: “One other drastic and ineffective battle had ended, one other lesson had been discovered testifying that man wraps himself in a blanket of beliefs and luxuries, then with a match units the world on fireplace, discovering he was destroying himself as effectively with the in search of of management and fame.”

The officers and crew of the Bearss held a flag elevating ceremony on the Ominato Base. QM Douglass noticed, “The traditional empire immediately stands beneath the flags of the United Nations. A destroyer and her crew obtained a ‘effectively completed’ as the celebrities and stripes had been raised over Ominato, proving that nations mixed shall oppress all who intend to destroy the human race.”

Heading House and Conclusions

After a interval of occupation obligation, the USS Harmony sailed for Boston to take part in Navy Day on 27 October 1945. In keeping with the Navy, she was the primary Navy cruiser named for a Massachusetts metropolis or city to go to the Commonwealth because the give up of Japan. Some 18,000 individuals lined up in Boston to board the ship and consider the turret of the “twin six” that fired the final shot of the battle. (The gun and mount at the moment are on view on the Naval Museum in Washington, D. C.) Guests additionally noticed a bronze duplicate of the well-known Harmony Minuteman Statue, a memento of the primary “shot heard ‘around the world” of the Revolutionary Struggle and the ship’s “mascot.”

The Harmony obtained one Battle Star for her service within the Kuril Islands Operation. After visiting Boston, she returned to her residence port of Philadelphia the place she was decommissioned on 12 December 1945 and offered 21 January 1947.

Following her occupation obligation, the USS Bearss sailed for Hakodate, Hokkaido, to Yokosuka in Tokyo Bay, after which returned to the States through the destroyer base in Hawaii to San Diego, California. From there, the Bearss handed via the Panama Canal and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, on 23 December 1945. She had participated in eight sea strikes with no casualties. The Bearss was introduced again into service in 1951, decommissioned in 1963, and ultimately offered for scrap.

After a 30-day depart, permitting him to return residence to Salem for Christmas of 1945, Thaddeus Buczko (immediately, age 89) was assigned to the plane service USS Halfway till he retired from energetic obligation.

He went on to obtain a B. A. from Norwich College (with honors) and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant within the U. S. Military. Whereas pursuing his legislation diploma at Boston College, in June 1949 Buczko was commissioned by the U. S. Military to function a Reserve Officer with the 304th Armored Calvary Regiment. He was recalled to energetic obligation in 1952, through the Korean Struggle, the place he served as a Unit Tank Commander with the third Armored Division and as Assistant Employees Choose Advocate for the Division. After the battle, Buczko served with Civil Affairs models (army authorities). He commanded the 357th Civil Affairs Space B Headquarters. He additionally served as Chief of Employees of the 94th Military Reserve Command, which was comprised of greater than 12,000 citizen-soldier reservists in over 100 reserve models in New England. In 1979, Buczko retired on the rank of Colonel after 30 years of service within the Military. For his service, he obtained the Legion of Benefit medal.

Thaddeus Buczko has served as a Salem Metropolis Councilor, Massachusetts State Consultant, Submit Grasp of Salem (appointed by President John F. Kennedy), Massachusetts State Auditor, and First Justice of the Essex County Probate and Household Courtroom. He’s credited with bringing Pope John Paul II to Boston in 1979. He continues to reside in Salem.


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