Beginning of the End of WWII August 16th 1945 



On August 19th 1945, from the Armed Forces Radio, I, CWO James Chastain was the Assistant Photo Lab Officer of the 36th PRS learned that the Japanese were sending Peace Envoys in white Betty bombers stripped of armament, marked with green crosses to the Philippines to arrange for Japan’s surrender. It was also learned that this Peace flight would land at Ie-Shima and the Envoys would be transferred to C-54’s to continue their mission to the Philippines for a conference with General Mac Arthur.  Permission was obtained to use our Sqdn’s converted Jap torpedo boat to Ie-Shima to photograph this historic event of 18 August, 1945.

Upon arrival at Ie-Shima, with Speed Graphic in hand, my pre-war buddy, T/Sgt. Frank Noone and I headed for Birch strip to photograph the Envoys arrival. Two Air Apache B-25’s of the 475th Bomb Group intercepted the Peace Envoys and escorted them to their landing.

Prior to the envoys landing, GI troops had been positioned approximately six feet apart on either side of the landing runway. One of the Betties had part of the Plexiglas of the tail gunners position missing and the person in that position could be plainly seen. As the Betty settled to the runway for a less than perfect landing the person in the tail Gunners position saw all of the people standing behind the GI’s that lined the runway and it appeared that he wasn’t sure what action our guards were going to take, he immediately scurried forward out of sight.

Massive rolls of barbed wire prevented us getting in position for close up shots of the Envoys transfer to the awaiting C-54s. Later when we were able to view the Betties more closely, one could see that paint jobs were slightly streaked as if they had been hurriedly applied by brush. One could even see the old red “meat Ball” through the thin white paint. However the green crosses had been applied with more care.

With thanks to an article written by Maj. Robert Mikelesh in the August 20 1966 issue of the “Airman” here is the rest of the story of how the end of the big war was almost delayed.                                                                                          

“On August 20, 1945, General Kawabe and party loaded their brief cases bulging with orders for surrender and the Occupation of Japan, returned to their own aircraft on Ie- Shima. Misfortune plagued both of these, peace making aircraft upon their return flight from Ie- Shima. General Kawabe in the first Betty took off gracefully, the second pilot piled ignominiously into a ditch with no casualties,  it was never repaired and eventually pushed into the sea by a bulldozer. Its crew and passengers returned to Japan by other means. The first betty continued onward to the home island, however it experienced mechanical trouble, necessitating a forced landing at midnight on the beach near Hamamatsu. Repairs were not possible and General Kawabe and party continued the trip by auto to deliver the surrender instructions to Tokyo on 21 August ,1945.                            

James  Chastain