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]
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:
- The History Reader: September 2, 1945: Formal Surrender of Japan in Images;
- iBiblio: Online Library of Selected Images: EVENTS - World War II in the Pacific - Formal Surrender of Japan, 2 September 1945 - Signing the Instruments of Surrender;
- University of Texas-Arlington: Pen used by Gen. MacArthur given to Gen. Wainwright;
- Personal Blog of Bill Maloney: Photo of Wainwright Pen at West Point Military Academy;
- War History Online: The Story of the Percival Pens
- Shanghai Daily: Pens that rewrote history reunited (Pen used by Nimitz);
- The Pen Market: Pens used to end World War II (European and Pacific Theaters).