Gen Umezu signs the surrender instrument
aboard USS Missouri, September 2, 1945,
Tokyo Bay, Japan, on the same day that Col. Tozuka signed his own surrender instrument at Cabatuan Airfield in Cabatuan, Iloilo, Panay Island, Philippines. (U.S. Navy Photo)

"Japs Surrender Marcus Island 31 Aug. 1945"
This signing happened two days before the one at Cabatuan Airfield, Panay Island, Philippines. (U.S. Navy Photo)

"Bonin Island Surrender, on USS Dunlap, 3 Sept. 1945."   This signing happened one day after Col. Tozuka signed his own at Cabatuan Airfield, Panay Island, Philippines. (U.S. Navy Photo)

MGen. Brush
Major General Rapp Brush was the 40th Infantry Division commander until July 1945 when he was relieved by Brigadier General Myers. The 40th Division was also transferred from the U.S. 8th Army to the U.S. 6th Army before the Japanese surrender signing ceremony at Cabatuan Airfield took place. Maj. Gen. Brush retired later that year, on December 31, 1945.

- o -

Col. Tozuka signs Surrender Instrument as Col. Stanton looks on

© RMC / , 2015

Col. Ryoichi Tozuka signs the surrender instrument
as Col. Raymond G. Stanton looks on.
Cabatuan Airfield
Barrio Tiring, Cabatuan, Iloilo
Panay Island, Philippines, September 2, 1945

August 10, 2015

2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Events like the signing of the surrender instrument aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945 are being commemorated to remind us of the end of years of suffering and horror on all sides.

In Panay Island, the end of World War II came with the signing by Col. Ryoichi Tozuka of the surrender instrument in Cabatuan Airfield, the same day as in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945.

Col. Tozuka commanded the 170th Independent Infantry Battalion, formerly the 37th Independent Infantry Battalion. The 37th or Tozuka Unit was reorganized in December 1943 after the Japanese punitive drive in Panay and became the 170th.

Protocol dictates that the surrender of a Colonel be received by another Colonel, and so, Col. Raymond G. Stanton, the commanding officer of the 160th Infantry Regiment, was designated to receive, even though his superiors were also present.

Around noontime, all the Japanese officers were assembled by Col. Tozuka. They marched to the "stage" at a corner of Cabatuan Airfield. The surrender instrument was read by the Japanese-American translator.

Afterwards, Col. Tozuka signed as Col. Stanton looked on.

Among the Japanese officers who attended that day, one stood out from the rest later. His name was Lt. Toshimi Kumai. After the war, and after his incarceration in Japan, he came back to Iloilo to atone for what had transpired during the war. He published his memoir, from which we can glean his accounts of that fateful day.

"The next day, a little after noon, all officers were assembled to attend the surrender ceremony. As we made our way to the setting of the ritual, we saw US soldiers feverishly checking out the belongings of Japanese soldiers who descended from trucks. Every one of them had gotten rid of weapons and they were running around in confusion amidst the shouting of US soldiers. The elite troops of Panay already looked quite like POWs."

"The venue for the surrender ceremony was a corner of the airfield beside the camp, where hundreds of military vehicles were parked. A battalion of US troops and a company of intrepid-looking Filipino Army personnel were standing in rows. I carefully observed the behavior of the Filipino soldiers against whom we had fought. In following orders, no movement of theirs looked inferior to that of the American soldiers, making me think of the hard training they must have received."

"At the center was a stage where Colonel Stanton stood. Representing the Japanese Army, the Tozuka unit commander loudly read out the statement of surrender of the Japanese Army to the US Forces. As expected from the look of the setting, the ceremony ended rather simply."

At least 16 Japanese Imperial Army officers were assembled to attend the surrender signing ceremony. Presumably present were Capt. Kaneyuki Koike (commanding the Kempei Tai unit on Panay Island), Lieut. Ishikawa, and Lieut Horimoto.   Capt. Koike, along with Lieuts. Ishikawa, Horimoto and Kumai, composed the "advance surrender party" that negotiated the manner of the surrender a few days earlier. They came down from Bocari, Leon to Maasin to meet with American representatives, and trekked back to Bocari afterwards.   As agreed upon, the Japanese forces then started to surrender on September 1, 1945, with the formal surrender signing ceremony by Lt. Col. Tozuka happening the following day on September 2, 1945 at Cabatuan Airfield.

The Japanese soldiers who survived the war in Panay, and may have been in Cabatuan Airfield when the signing ceremony was taking place, includes Tsukasa Shimojo, Michio Ikeda, Yoriichi Natsu, Fujinosuke Moriyama and Sadao Ono, of the 170th Independent Infantry Battalion. During the surrender, the Japanese soldiers were brought to the airfield where they were then interned.

On the American side, the signing ceremony at Cabatuan Airfield was attended by the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy brass, led by Brigadier General Donald Myers, commanding the 40th Infantry Division, and Rear Admiral (the navy's equivalent of major general) Ralph O. Davis, commanding the 13th Amphibious Group. The Assistant Commander of the 40th Division was Brig. Gen. Robert O. Shoe.

Also present was Capt. Bob O. Mathews, the skipper of USS Estes, which was the flagship of the U.S. Navy's 13th Amphibious Group. The USS Estes arrived in Iloilo Harbor the day before, on September 1, 1945, with Rear Admiral Davis and his staff on board. The ship came from Leyte.

Col. Stanton
160th Infantry Regiment

Brig. Gen. Myers
40th Infantry Division

Brig. Gen. Shoe
40th Infantry Division

Rear Adm. Davis
13th Amphibious Group
Col. Tozuka
Japanese Imperial Army  

Capt. Kumai
Japanese Imperial Army

Col. Raymond G. Stanton graduated in 1927 from the United States Military Academy (USMA), famously known as West Point. He was a veteran of the Pacific Theater from New Guinea to the Philippines. His brother, Col. Walter C. Stanton, belonged to West Point Class 1926. His uncle, Col. Hubert G. Stanton, to West Point Class 1911. A fourth member of the family, his nephew Walter C. Stanton Jr., graduated from West Point in 1950.

It appears from the signing photo that Col. Stanton was wearing his West Point class ring while accepting the surrender in Cabatuan.

The American honor guard standing behind him came from the Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon commanded by Capt. Herman E. Bulling. It includes Pfc. Everett L. Farris.

Another officer who was reportedly involved in accepting the surrender was Lt. Col. James E. Marr, a battalion commander of the 40th Division.

The Filipino infantry company meanwhile was organized and commanded by Capt. Eliseo D. Rio. Tall men were selected from among the ranks of the 1st Battalion 52nd Infantry Regiment and were given new uniforms and equipments in time for the ceremony.

Capt. Kumai's book, The Blood and Mud in the Philippines, is being reprinted by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO). The memoir was translated by Yukako Ibuki, and edited by Ma. Luisa Mabunay and Ricardo T. Jose.

In his book, Capt. Kumai referred to the airfield several times as 'Cabatuan Airfield,' in addition to describing its location as being in Cabatuan, Iloilo.

The airfield was called Cabatuan Airfield by the Japanese Imperial Army, after the Municipality of Cabatuan, Iloilo where it was located; Tiring Landing Field by the Panay guerillas of Col. Macario Peralta and the Free Panay Government of Iloilo Governor Thomas Confesor, after Barrio Tiring, Cabatuan, where it was specifically located; Tiring Airfield and Tiring Field by the Americans, after Barrio Tiring, Cabatuan; and erroneously as Santa Barbara Airfield or Santa Barbara Airport by the Americans, erroneous since the airfield was not located in the neighboring town.

The Japanese forces operated Cabatuan Airfield the longest, from the time they arrived in Panay in 1942, until they retreated to the mountains in 1945.

PH to reprint Japanese soldier’s war memoir

Chapters of Blood and Mud in the Philippines mentioning 'Cabatuan Airfield':
Chapter 7,   Chapter 8,   Chapter 10,   Chapter 11

More about Lt. Kumai
A Soldier's Responsibility (Photos),   Kumai's Story (


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