Victory Over Japan

On August 6th, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima. This would be the first of only two times the bomb was ever used against another country. Earlier, the Truman administration found that the Japanese were not accepting of the Potsdam Declaration which demanded an unconditional surrender by Japan. The Japanese had asked Russia to act as intermediary for them at the Potsdam Conference. However, unbeknownst to the Japanese, the Soviet Union was about to enter the war against them. Consequently, Stalin did not convey all of the questions and concerns of the Japanese. One major question was the preservation of their Emperor as head if they surrendered. But this was never made clear to Churchill and Truman and the harsh statement coming from the conference is what resulted. Because Japan was not forthcoming, Truman decided to drop the bomb (Japan was unaware of this power).

When the Japanese were still debating what to do, the United States, hearing nothing from Japan, dropped a second atom bomb on August 9th over the city of Nagasaki. Still the world heard nothing, though the Japanese began talks directly with the United States. After suffering so serious a blow, the public could not understand why the Japanese did not immediately surrender. Apparently, there was much consternation among Japanese leaders as to what to do. Some wanted immediate surrender, others wanted to continue fighting, still others feared for their Emperor. Finally, realizing they had no other choice but to hope for the best, the Japanese accepted the terms of Potsdam.

Initially, a report on a signing of surrender was released by the United Press prematurely. Word was apparently in, but it was not yet indicated as official. The clip here is the announcement, and then the rescinding of the announcement.

The sound montage included here begins with an interruption of a big band remote - Cab Calloway and his Orchestra appearing at the New Zanzibar in New York City. It is approximately 1:50 in the morning of August 14th, Eastern War Time. The previous day had brought a lot of false VJ Day reports prompted partly by the hesitation of the Japanese. The Mutual Network which was carrying the band remote interrupts with news wire reports that the Japanese had accepted the unconditional surrender. But nothing official is yet forthcoming. This report gives a nice historical view of just how tentative the radio news services relied on the wire services. You can even hear a man in the background getting increasingly excited as more information is forthcoming. But because it was so tentative, there is some dead air as the network struggles with incoming information, finally returning to the big band remote.

From this point the montage moves to approximately 9:30 a.m. EWT in Chicago via the NBC news affiliate with reporter Don Eldridge reporting live from Chicago's loop. We can hear the moving traffic as reporter Eldridge tells of the current calm after some early morning activity. But he also describes the early gathering of some citizens and the news of surrender is being anticipated.

As NBC begins to move to live reports around the country, the montage switches to early evening via CBS as the news services along with the world awaits official word of acceptance from the Allied leaders. The CBS reporter like the earlier Mutual reporter is tentative, not sure whether to return to regular broadcast, or to hang on. An announcement is imminent. Suddenly, we are switch to Robert Trout in London for the announcement has arrived. The ebullition in the newsroom gives us a picture of how much the world waited for the announcement. Immediately the report is cut in by the local stations, in this case WKRC in Cincinnati, to bring a local picture to start of celebrations.

Reporter Tom McCarthy of WKRC, Cincinnati, in a commentary reminiscent of Gabriel Heatter, provides eloquent words reflecting what the world felt. We hear the start of the celebrations that took place in virtually every city in the United States as well as many world capitals. The montage focuses on Cincinnati. Finally, we switch to another eloquent announcer, NBC's Ben Grauer, as he reports from Times Square inside a remote vehicle. He is right in the thick of it and radio is there to catch it all.


Photo used with permission of National Archives

"This image is a work of a U.S. Army soldier or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain."