[Re: “Museum of the Pacific War Upgrades Nimitz Gallery,” News, by Brendan Manley, July 2020:] The following statement is made about Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz: “… and presided over Japan’s formal surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945.” Fleet Admiral Nimitz signed the instrument of surrender on behalf of the United States; however, he was not the presiding officer at this ceremony. The presiding officer was General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.
Editor responds: Good catch. The National Museum of the Pacific War is justly proud of Nimitz’s wartime accomplishments. However, it was Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces MacArthur who presided over the ceremony aboard Missouri and accepted the Japanese surrender.
I read with great interest the article “Close Enough” [by Michael W. Robbins], in the September 2020 issue of Military History. A very interesting article, as is your excellent magazine.
My father was a major in the U.S. Army’s 162nd Field Artillery during World War II and served in Panama as part of the defense of the Panama Canal prior to shipping out to the Pacific Theater. Your article vividly brought back his telling of his time in Panama. According to him, due to the high humidity and jungle conditions—similar to what the armed forces would experience in the Pacific—they were secretly issued war materials for testing to determine their performance under those special climatic conditions. The most important tests related to the firing of “special” ammunition—proximity-fuzed projectiles for regular and anti-aircraft guns—under torrential rains and extreme humidity to determine how the rounds would perform and if heavy rains would detonate them. They also tested new jungle combat boots made of canvas with rubber soles, since the regular-issue boots did not last long in the jungle. The soles of the regular issues would come off after a few days due to the high humidity and the suction caused by the very wet clay soils. The boots they tested ultimately were issued and used by our troops.
The 162nd was mostly made up of Puerto Rican–born men, sent to Panama due to their English-Spanish bilingualism. A school for Spanish-speaking South American officers was set up, and my father and fellow officers became instructors in the use and maintenance of U.S. military weapons.
After Panama my father shipped out to Hawaii to prepare for the invasion of Japan. He was in an advance staging area when Japan surrendered, and he was able to return home and tell me his experiences. These stories, told to me when I was a young boy, I have always cherished.
Rafael A. Torrens Jr.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Battle of Britain
Your article on the Battle of Britain [“‘The Few’ Four Score On”], in the September 2020 issue, was interesting. Barrett Tillman was correct when he said Operation Sea Lion was never a serious plan, but rather Adolf Hitler was hoping to scare the British government into signing a separate peace. Otto Skorzeny, the famed SS commando, said in his memoirs Hitler confided in him that an invasion of Britain would not have ended the war in Europe. Winston Churchill would have continued the war from either Canada or South Africa. Also, it would have given the Germans another country to occupy.
New Brunswick, N.J.
I look forward to reading Military History each month. The November 2019 review of With Their Bare Hands [by Gene Fax] mentions the U.S. 79th Division in World War I was filled with “raw recruits from the streets of Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.” The 313th Infantry Regiment (within the 79th) was mostly filled with men from Baltimore. My grandfather was a corporal in Company M. The 313th was known as “Baltimore’s Own.”