World War II

WWII Official Dispatch on the Day of Nagasaki Bombing Japanese "Show Down Battle" With Signed Hiroshima Bombing Photo

Fantastic Japanese "Show Down Battle" Naval Dispatch Also Noting the Fuel Shortage in Japan


Single page typed Naval dispatch, 8" x 7", with two punch holes along top edge. Header of U.S. Naval Communication Service, Amphibious Forces, Pacific. Dated "9 August 1945". Ex. J. John Fox (1905-1999) Intelligence Officer for the Amphibious Forces, via Auction (see below for his Biography). Accompanied by two glossy vintage photos taken at the Japanese surrender signing aboard USS Missouri, Tokyo Bay, Japan (one of General Yoshijiro, the other of Chester Nimitz). Fine condition. Matted together with a spectacular Black and White photo of the Hiroshima mushroom cloud after the bombing on August 6, 1945, 8" x 10". Boldly signed and inscribed by three of the significant pilots and crew from the event, in blue ink, Paul Tibbets, as "Paul Tibbets/Pilot - Enola Gay", in blue ink, Thomas Ferebee as "Tom Ferebee/Bombadier", and in blue ink, and Theodore Van Kirk as "Theodore J "Dutch" Van Kirk(navigator). Completed matted size of 13.5" x 23.5".


A fantastic example of an important Naval Dispatch from the height of the War against Japan during World War II, communicating the important message that Japan's creative fuel process was in part also being considered and implemented by the US in preparation for a "Show Down Battle". To put this in perspective, only days before the date of this dispatch release we had just bombed Hiroshima, and on the morning of the day of this dispatch we had bombed Nagasaki. As neither we specifically mentioned, and as both were top secret missions, it is possible that full news of the bombing was just trickling in. It was also possible that we were preparing for Japan to not surrender even after the bombs. The dispatch is shown in full below:


"Radio Toyko          9 August 1945

The manufacture of high octane airplane gasoline from resin pine-trees has been launched throughout nation in preparation for show down battle Japanese mainland stop processing this airplane fuel perfected by army technical major Toyama and army Technical major Masamitsu Yoshimura of Army fuel headquarters x Pinetrees are plentiful in Japan and the processing of the Gasoline is simple x it is quite suitable for aircraft x it surpasses in quality all other fuels made from roots and herbs that Japan has perfected thus far"

In advance of this moment, the invasion of Japan had promised to be the bloodiest seaborne attack of all time, conceivably 10 times as costly as the Normandy invasion in terms of Allied casualties. On July 16, a new option became available when the United States secretly detonated the world’s first atomic bomb in the New Mexico desert. Ten days later, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding the “unconditional surrender of all the Japanese armed forces.” Failure to comply would mean “the inevitable and complete destruction of the Japanese armed forces and just as inevitable the utter devastation of the Japanese homeland.” On July 28, Japanese Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki responded by telling the press that his government was “paying no attention” to the Allied ultimatum. U.S. President Harry Truman ordered the devastation to proceed, and on August 6, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 80,000 people and fatally wounding thousands more.


Japan was also suffering from lack of fuel for their airplanes. Japan is famously resource-poor and there were no significant oil deposits in the pre-war Japanese Empire. The Imperial Navy, in growing desperation for fuel, launched the pine root campaign where pine roots were dug up and heated for 12 hours to produce a crude oil substitute. Each gallon of pine root produced required 2.5 man days of work. Thus, the official 12,000 bbl/d target would have required 1.25 million persons per day! By June 1945, pine roots were producing 75,000 barrels per month fuel. However, the refining technology for pine roots oil was still lacking. In Spring 1945, a new government came into power in Japan headed by 80 year old retired admiral, Kantaro Suzuki. Suzuki ordered a survey of Japan’s fighting ability to determine if they were sufficient to carry on the war. Their implementation of the Kamikaze attacks limited the amount of fuel needs (as ironically no return flight was necessary) but for all practical purposes, Japan was out of oil!



After the Hiroshima attack, a faction of Japan’s supreme war council favored acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration, but the majority resisted unconditional surrender. On August 8, Japan’s desperate situation took another turn for the worse when the USSR declared war against Japan. The next day, Soviet forces attacked in Manchuria, rapidly overwhelming Japanese positions there, and a second U.S. atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese coastal city of Nagasaki. Just before midnight on August 9, Japanese Emperor Hirohito convened the supreme war council. After a long, emotional debate, he backed a proposal by Prime Minister Suzuki in which Japan would accept the Potsdam Declaration “with the understanding that said Declaration does not compromise any demand that prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as the sovereign ruler.” The council obeyed Hirohito’s acceptance of peace, and on August 10 the message was relayed to the United States.

Early on August 12, the United States answered that “the authority of the emperor and the Japanese government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” After two days of debate about what this statement implied, Emperor Hirohito brushed the nuances in the text aside and declared that peace was preferable to destruction. He ordered the Japanese government to prepare a text accepting surrender. In the early hours of August 15, a military coup was attempted by a faction led by Major Kenji Hatanaka. The rebels seized control of the imperial palace and burned Prime Minister Suzuki’s residence, but shortly after dawn the coup was crushed. At noon that day, Emperor Hirohito went on national radio for the first time to announce the Japanese surrender. In his unfamiliar court language, he told his subjects, “we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.” The United States immediately accepted Japan’s surrender.

President Truman appointed MacArthur to head the Allied occupation of Japan as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers. For the site of Japan’s formal surrender, Truman chose the USS Missouri, a battleship that had seen considerable action in the Pacific and was named after Truman’s native state. MacArthur, instructed to preside over the surrender, held off the ceremony until September 2 in order to allow time for representatives of all the major Allied powers to arrive.

On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed on behalf of the United Nations, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.”


J. John Fox (1905-1999) was born in Paterson, NJ, but grew up in and worked most of his adult life in Boston, MA. He attended Boston University, then enrolled in Boston University Law School. It was there he acquired the nickname “Just John” Fox, his reply to a professor’s question about his name. 

When Pearl Harbor was attacked, Fox enlisted in the Navy, despite being around 36 years old. Initially he served in the North Atlantic before being assigned to the amphibious forces in the Pacific Theater under Admiral Richmond “Kelly” Turner. Fox became an intelligence officer and was involved in the planning of the assaults on Kwajelein, the Marianas, Palau, Leyte, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In late 1945 he was also deeply involved in planning the invasion of Japan itself. Had the invasion occurred, he was to have been in charge of prisoner interrogation and captured documents. He was awarded the bronze star for his service in the Pacific Theater. Before being discharged in 1946, he helped in preparation of amphibious operations training materials at the Naval War College in Newport, RI. 

After his discharge, he returned to his legal practice in Boston. Governor Dever appointed him as an associate judge in 1952. He then became a probate judge in Norfolk Probate Court in 1960. He retired from the bench in 1973. 

In the 1960s Fox helped establish a public medical school in Massachusetts, a school that became the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In 1974, he co-sponsored, with David Bartley, the Bartley-Fox Law, the first of its kind, in Massachusetts. Bartley-Fox established stiff penalties for illegal possession of a firearm and committing a crime with an unlicensed firearm. Although the law generated controversy, as does all firearms-related legislation, this one did not restrict ownership of firearms, it only required them to be registered. 

Judge Fox lived for another quarter century after retirement, passing away on October 4, 1999 at the age of 96. This piece was brought back from the Pacific by Fox following World War II, and descended in his family.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


Item: 66499

Price: $2,500.00
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