|Wainwright at liberation August 1945|
On August 16, 1945, a six-man Office of Strategic Services (OSS) team parachute into (Hoten) Mukden (today’s Shenyang), POW camp in northern China to liberate the POWs and locate the senior officers held by the Japanese. On the 19th, several dozen British, Dutch, and American senior officers including Lieutenant Generals Jonathan Wainwright and A.E. Percival were located at the Hsian POW camp (Xi'an or today's Liaoyuan), 150 miles north of Mukden. This was the first they heard that the war had ended.
When Wainwright and the other captive officers, enlisted men, and civilians were told of the war's end on August 19, he recounted, "We roared suddenly with laughter ... roared until the rest of [the interpreter's] words were blotted out. There was no stopping the laughter. It came up in me, and in the others, with an irresistible force: something born of a combination of our relief, the look on [the interpreter's] face, the blind preposterousness of his beginning, the release from years of tension, the utter, utter joy over having survived to see this blessed day."
However, the prisoners still had to wait for the arrival of the Russian Red Army on August 24th in order to move out. The Japanese, noted Wainwright, left the prisoners the remaining Red Cross packages and they "began having fine, well-cooked meals, the first sufficient food we had since the outbreak of the war. We smoked American cigarettes like chimneys." With the "prospect of getting home soon," Wainwright said he celebrated "the happiest birthday in many years."
The years of captivity took its toll on the general. He had endured prison camps on the Philippines, Formosa, and China. The man who had been nicknamed “Skinny” was now emaciated and drawn. His hair had turned white, and his skin was cracked and fragile. He was also depressed, believing he would be blamed for the loss of the Philippines to the Japanese.
When Wainwright arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to attend the formal surrender ceremony, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, his former commander, was stunned at his appearance. Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to America, promoted to full general and awarded the Medal of Honor.
🌷You can leave virtual flowers at his Grave HERE.
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