(Published in The Mooreland Leader, Mooreland, Oklahoma, on Thursday, October 4, 1945)
MAJ. JOHN GARDNER LOOKS ON AS THE JAPS SURRENDER IN CHINA
In Letter To Parents Here, Major Tells of Occupation of Nanking
Nanking, China Sept. 9, 1945
Dear Mother, Dad and all,
I have so much to tell you that I hardly know where to begin. First of all, I arrived here on the 5th of Sept. I flew down in, a C-46. Our load consisted of two Jeeps, two barrels gasoline, 1000 lbs. radio equipment and 10 people with their baggage. That's quite a load for one plane, don't you think? We had a nice trip here. It took about 3½ hours. The first 2½ hours we flew at 10,000 feet altitude then dropped down to 1,000 feet for the last hour: It was really a beautiful sight to look down on the green terraced paddy fields. We followed the Yangtze river about 30 miles. Saw lots of steam boats churning their way up river. I was sent here with an advance detail to receive the troops of the H VI Army (the unit that I have been with for the past 18 months.) They are being flown from Chihkiang to Nanking (about 700 miles). We have 35,000 troops in the Army. They are being flown in here about 1500 per day (38 men plus equipment and weapons per plane). When we arrived here the Chinese had already selected for us a grand big structure on the campus of the Central Military Academy (The West Point of China.). When we arrived here at the building there were about 50 Japs still here. All of them still had their weapons. Through an interpreter we told them to move out. It wasn't long until they were moving out and helping us move in. They carried in practically all of the heavy equipment. When we got here the entire city (population of 1,250,000) was guarded by the Japanese. There were no Chinese troops here so the Japs had to maintain the law and order in town. As our troops arrive they replace the Jap guards. The Japs will soon be rounded up in concentration camps and disarmed.
This is the darndest thing that you ever heard of, Japs running around everywhere over town, American and Chinese soldiers are walking and driving down the streets with Japs passing everywhere, everyone is armed. The Japs are very courteous and show us great respect. Everything is quite peaceful but I can't get used to being around these little b----- ds. Today a big page was written in China's history, the signing of the surrender terms. It took place this morning at 9 o'clock. We all attended. There were 6 Jap officials who attended. There were a sad lot of people. I took many good pictures which I sent to Verlee and, we can have some printed for you. I bought an excellent "German make" camera and have surprised myself with the good pictures that I have taken. This has been a big day from many standpoints. The signing of the surrender terms took place on the 9th day of the 9th month at 9:00 o'clock. - Also I left the States on the 9th of September 1943. This is my second anniversary overseas. Gee, I'm anxious to get home. I can hardly stand to be here now that the war is over but this is the way that Uncle Sam said it would be. I feel pretty certain that I'll be here for about four months yet.
The country around here is very productive, plenty of food. Nanking is quite a large city. Many buildings and, places of business are similar to what we have at home, neon signs, street lights, traffic lights, large beautiful hotels and cafes. Many speak English. Now for a few things about our quarters. We have a beautiful 4 story building of strictly oriental design. It was formerly the officers club here at the academy. We have tile floors, toilets that actually flush, water piped in, electric lights, a large, well planned, front and back yard. A large garage, etc. This is really something. The place was run down and very dirty when we came. I have hired 50 coolies to clean the place. They have worked for 3 days now, scrubbing, cutting grass, washing windows, etc. It is now beginning to look fair. We have built showers, piped water into the kitchens, built sinks, ice boxes, shelves and lots of other things that will help to make us a nice place to live. We are also replacing broken windows and screening the place. The mosquitoes are terrible, of course we use mosquito nets.
The weather is beginning to cool off a bit. This is about the same climate as North Carolina. I plan to fly down to Shanghai soon. It is only 30 minutes by air from here. I'm anxious to see that city. I really have a lot to tell you when I get home. This will give you a bird's eye view of what I'm doing. Do hope this finds you all well. Remember me to everyone.
Love to all,