On August 15th of 1945 – following six years of conflict, two atomic bombs, and the deaths of over 50 million people – Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan to the Japanese population, effectively bringing World War II to an end, and as word soon spread through various channels a sigh of relief slowly swept across the globe. Below is just one of many stirring letters sent to active troops in which the War’s conclusion was officially announced. This particular example was received by Jack Hendricks, an officer in the 1st Marine Division of the U. S. Marine Corps.
Transcript follows. Image kindly – and very proudly – supplied by Jack Hendricks’ great-granddaughter, Becky. Special thanks to reddit’s fantastic history community for bringing the letter to my attention.
Headquarters, First Marine Division,
Fleet Marine Force,
C/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif.
20 August 1945.
To the Officers and Men of the First Marine Division:
The President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, has just announced the final and complete surrender of the Japanese people, government, and armed forces. The War is officially ended. This is an hour of triumph, of pride in the great accomplishments of our arms, and of joy that the bloody war which has taken so many of our comrades can claim no more.
You of the First Marine Division may well know an especial triumph, feel a particular pride, for yours was the force which first turned the tide against the Japanese. Many units have fought the Japanese in the past year, but it has been over three years since this Division struck the first offensive blow of the war on land, when it landed in the lower Solomon Islands. That historic campaign, fought under the greatest hardships, attracted the attention of the whole world — and the name “Guadalcanal” came to be synonymous with Marine heroism, perseverance, and military achievement.
You have many memories. You have left your dead at Tenaru and Wana Draw, Bloody Nose Ridge and Target Hill, Matanikau and Dakeshi. You have fought through dense jungles, mighty swamps, and coral ridges, honeycombed with caves. You have endured much — extreme heat, thirst, hunger, ceaseless exposure to wind and rain. You have borne the pain of long separation from home and family. Your life has been so Spartan that ordinary comforts have become as luxuries.
And now it is over. The enemy is vanquished, the field is won. And now, to you who have borne the flag of your country and the standard of your corps from Lunga Ridge to Shuri Castle, WELL DONE, and may God bless you.
Major General, U. S. Marine Corps,