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General Douglas MacArthur counter-signs the Japanese instrument of surrender as Supreme Allied Commander aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945. Standing behind him are Generals Arthur Percival and Jonathan Wainwright who would receive two of the several pens used by MacArthur. Fleet Admiral Chester A. Nimitz (not seen here) would sign next for the United States forces using another pen, followed by General Hsu Yung-chang on behalf of the Republic of China. Source: US National Archives


Due to a recent question here about the German surrender ending World War II in the European theater, I started also investigating the end of the war in the Pacific theater. I was curious about the number of pens used to sign the Japanese instrument of surrender and where they are located today.

The following sources indicate six pens were used by General Douglas MacArthur, but they account for the disposition of them differently:

  • Wikipedia which reports the following disposition of five of the six pens: (1) first given to Wainwright, (2) second given to Percival, (3) one reserved for the West Point military academy, (4) one given to MacArthur's aide, (5) one to be given to MacArthur's wife, Jean [sixth pen not accounted for];
  • The US National Archives which also reports the first two pens given to Generals Wainwright and Percival, with no mention of the disposition of the other four pens;
  • General Kenney Reports: A Personal History of the Pacific War which reports the disposition of the pens as follows: (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3) Military Academy at West Point, (4) Naval Academy at Annapolis, (5) MacArthur's own souvenir, (6) his wife.
  • The Art of Surrender: Decomposing Sovereignty at Conflict's End by Robin Wagner-Pacifici, University of Chicago Press, 2005 (this includes an account from General Wainwright): (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3, 4 & 5) various [unspecified] organizations, (6) wife Jean.


These sources indicate five pens were used by MacArthur and they account for their disposition slightly differently:

  • Douglas MacArthur by Jean Darby, Twenty-First Century Books, 1989 [this may not be a very scholarly work]: (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3) West Point, (4) Annapolis, (5) wife, Jean;
  • Payoff in Tokyo Bay by Michael D. Hull, Military History Magazine on HisortyNet.com: (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3) US Military Academy [West Point], (4) US Naval Academy [Annapolis], (5) wife, Jean;
  • A Pen Runs Through It, by Stephen Kavalin on EMS World, with assistance from Charlie Knight Curator, and James W. Zobel Archivist/Historian, MacArthur Memorial MacArthur Square, Norfolk, Virginia 23510: (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3 & 4) "Two of the remaining pens are part of the collection at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, VA", (5) wife, "Jean's original Parker Duofold was lost (stolen) in the years following the ceremony."
  • Admiral Stuart S. Murray's Account, excerpt from a US Naval Institute Oral History interview, recorded in 1974 at Annapolis, Maryland, as found on USSMissouri.org, (1) Wainwright, (2) Percival, (3,4,& 5) placed in his pocket. Partial quote from account as follows:

    Then General MacArthur signed for all the allied powers. He used several pens, as you hear various and sundry accounts of it, on there but the picture that I have taken over the top of his head shows that five pens were used. Most people say six, but I think five is correct, because I have the photographs as proof of it. [emphasis added]


Question Summary

Were there six pens, or five? Who were they given to at the time? Where are they now? The number and disposition of pens used by MacArthur are synthesized into this list from the various sources listed above (pen #5 below seems to be in question, those who indicate 5 pens omit this one, those who indicate 6 pens disagree as to its disposition):

(1) General Wainwright (undisputed by all accounts - is this pen now at West Point?);
(2) General Percival (undisputed by all accounts - now at Cheshire Military Museum?);
(3) West Point Military Academy (accurate? still there?);
(4) Annapolis Naval Academy (accurate? still there?);
(5) Personal souvenir (MacArthur) or given to Aide (any corroboration? whereabouts known today?);
(6) MacArthur's wife, Jean (reported lost or stolen a few years after the war - any news of it since then?).


Additional resources used:

8

It appears that the answer to the first part of your question is contained in the Memoirs of Col. Hervey Bennett Whipple, who was MacArthur’s chief logistics officer, and who oversaw the arrangements for the signing ceremony.

I haven't been able to locate a copy of his papers online (the original appears to be held by the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia. Reference GHQ, SWPA/USAFPAC/SCAP, Box 81 Fol. 3), but this site has the following summary:

He used six pens on 2 September 1945. MacArthur intended to give pens to Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright; Lieutenant General Arthur Percival; the National Archives; West Point; General Courtney Whitney, a staff officer; and Jean MacArthur, his wife. Four of the pens were desk pens from a now-unknown source, one was borrowed from Whitney, and the last was Jean MacArthur’s. MacArthur returned his wife’s small red Parker Duofold Jr., the final pen he used, to his pocket as soon as he used it. He gave Wainwright and Percival their pens on the spot. He returned Whitney’s Sheaffer fountain pen that evening. Two other pens he left on the table. When British Admiral of the Fleet Bernard Fraser sat down at the table, he used both pens and presented them to two of his aides. Major General Charles Willoughby, MacArthur’s wartime director of intelligence, retrieved the pens, and they went to the National archives and West Point.

The details appear to be corroborated in an article titled Surrender seen close up published in the Japan Times on 28 August 2005:

Whipple had found his metier in logistics. He was obsessed with the nuts and bolts of whence things came and where they went. He spills much ink over the matter of the pens. MacArthur intended to give pens to Wainwright, Percival, the National Archives, West Point, Mrs. MacArthur and Gen. Courtney Whitney, a staff officer. MacArthur returned his wife’s small red fountain pen to his pocket as soon as he used it. He gave Wainwright and Percival their pens on the spot. He returned Whitney his Shaeffer fountain pen that evening. Two other pens he left on the table. When Adm. Fraser, “resplendent in tropical white uniform,” sat down at the table, he used both pens and presented them to two of his aides. Whipple overheard an American general, perhaps James Doolittle, whisper, “I see the British are still lend-leasing our equipment.” Maj. Gen. Willoughby got the pens back. Whipple breathed easier after MacArthur opened the ceremony.


The MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, has produced this video about the pens used to sign the Instrument of Surrender as part of their artiFACTS series.

As the curator, Jim Zobel, explains, the locations of the four Waterman fountain pens is known, as is that of General Whitney’s Sheaffer fountain pen (believed to still be held by the family).


In summary, the four Waterman pens are located at:

Percival's pen at Cheshire museum

General Whitney’s Sheaffer fountain pen is believed to still be held by the Whitney family.

The sixth pen, a small red Parker Duofold Jr belonging to MacArthur's wife, Jean, was stolen from her apartment in the Waldorf Astoria. A replica of this pen can be seen at the USS Missouri Museum.


Update

It appears that Colonel Hervey Bennett Whipple's memoirs weren't widely published (I haven't been able to find a copy in a library or archive in the UK). A copy is lodged with the Library of Congress, but there doesn’t appear to be a copy online.

If you are after more detail, you may need to consult the original papers at the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk, Virginia, or at the Library of Congress.

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