Some cool online photo edit images:
August 30, 1945: Capt. Herbert Buchanan, RAN, receives the keys to the Yokosuka naval base - AWM.
Image by Kookaburra2011
5175. It looks ordered, but the tensions here must have been enormous. Bitter foes coming face-to-face, neither side knowing how the other will react, the Japanese half-expecting a massacre.
Thus, within moments, in a symbolic act of Japanese submission, the keys of the huge Yokosuka naval base near Yokohama, are handed to Captain Herbert James Buchanan, RAN, from Melbourne - the CO of destroyer HMAS NAPIER and Commander of the British Pacific Fleet's 7th Destroyer Flotilla - by Commander Yuzo Tanno, the officer in charge of stores at the base.
In some ways this is an awkward photograph historically, and one that does not appear in US records.
It is some short time later, before US Rear Admiral Robert B. Carney the U.S. Third Fleet Chief of Staff and Rear Admiral Roger C. Badger arrived on board the cruiser USS SAN DIEGO to formally receive the surrender of the base on behalf of the U.S. Navy from Vice Admiral Michitoro Totsuka, the base Commander. It should be stressed that US marines had landed elsewhere on the Azuma Peninsula first, and in fact the first probing advance parties of Carney's forces had been landing at defence points around Toyko Bay, and taking over Japanese batteries, for two days hence, since August 28.
Nonetheless, the seizure of Yokosuka was a critical part of the first major landings, and somehow Buchanan - typically of this aggressive and highly decorated destroyer captain - had got to Yokosuka first, striding ashore at the head of a force of some 80 Australian and New Zealand sailors mainly drawn from HMAS NAPIER and her sister ship HMAS NIZAM.
Buchanan's group appears to have been accompanied by at least one an official war correspondent John Pacini, but Pacini's report [below]] suggests others also - and there are several pages of photographs of these first scenes ashore in the Australian War Memorial. They can be found here:
An interesting account of the Buchanan group's arrrival at Yokosuka by correspondent Pacini is also published online by the Naval Historical Society of Australia.
Some edited extracts - which tie in with the AWM photographs - follow, but the full piece is here:
"....About 9.45 a.m.[US] marines landed at Azuma Peninsula, and at 10.40 the New Zealanders and Australians landed on the Japanese mainland at the Yokosuka base. Correspondents landed with Captain Buchanan. We left the APD [assault ...destroyer] in the usual type of landing craft, and after a few minutes travel, entered a small basin.
At the end of it, and waiting under a verandah, which was joined to the roof of a storehouse, stood three Japanese. As the landing craft sidled up to the small jetty, Captain Buchanan jumped ashore [making him the first Australian to land in Japan], and, with a guard behind him, went straight to where the three nervous Japanese were standing. They saluted Buchanan, who returned the compliment.
"Then a Japanese standing in the centre of the group bowed low, and handed over a large ring of keys, which opened every door in the area. This Japanese was a Naval Commander, who had been in charge of the stores depots of the base. The men on each side of him were interpreters. A guard of Australian sailors quickly formed up beside the Japanese...[describes dress of landing party] ....
"A table was erected quickly, and on it were placed the plans of the area which Buchanan studied in conjunction with the Japanese. The interpreters were good, and information was gathered quickly.
Although the landing was British, it might well have been Australian, judging from the scene around the table. The guard was Australian, and the whole of Captain Buchanan’s headquarters was composed of Australian naval officers, who had been taken from the destroyers NAPIER and NIZAM. Having made a thorough inspection of the maps, Captain Buchanan and his party began a tour of the area. Large files which the Japanese Commander had brought with him for perusal were handed over to an American Navy interpreter for translation..."
Further on, during a tour of base facilities, Pacini writes of the Japanese apprehension during this first encounter. He says: " Throughout the tour of the area almost all Japanese we saw were perceptibly shaken; and I don’t think any of them would have been surprised had we suddenly shot or bayoneted them...
"....When the Japanese commander realised that no harm was going to come to him, so long as no harm came to us, he began to smile more often. He became even more open with his information, and for a few minutes I was able to speak to him through an interpreter. He told me that the navy desired to attack Australia straight after the fall of Singapore, but the army preferred to move to Australia through New Guinea. The Army won..."
Photo, Australian War Memorial, image ID NO. 019422, listed copyright expired, public domain, it appears on the Wikipedia entry on the surrender of Yokosuka, and appeared in John Pacini's book 'With the RAN to Tokio' [Herald and Weekly Times Ltd, Melbourne 1946], p. 35.