A simple pen with an amazing Second World War story – one of national and international importance – can be seen at Cheshire Military Museum and is to be displayed at Chester Town Hall.
The pen was used by US General Douglas MacArthur to sign a formal surrender ceremony on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on 2nd September 2nd 1945 that, following Japan’s surrender, effectively brought an end to the war.
It was gifted by MacArthur to Lt General Arthur Percival, a former forces commander, Japanese prisoner of war and a witness to the signing on board the ship. He, in turn, donated it to the Cheshire Regiment before his death in 1966.
In the hands of Chester Military Museum since that time, the museum has loaned the pen for a new display.
Working with the city’s Business Improvement District, CH1ChesterBID, Chester-based social enterprise Big Heritage and Chester Racecourse the pen will be showcased as part of ‘Chester Unlocked’, a year-long programme celebrating the city’s diverse and rich heritage.
To coincide with the 70th anniversary of the signing on board the USS Missouri, the pen will be available for public viewing in Chester Town Hall, Northgate Street, during August 2015.
Lt General Percival, who gifted the pen, was in charge of forces in Malaysia that fell to the Japanese in 1942. Forced to surrender, he was held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. After Japan’s surrender, MacArthur secured Percival’s release and bought him on board the USS Missouri to witness the Japanese signing the surrender. MacArthur then presented the pen to Percival who is shown behind US General Douglas MacArthur using the pen in the photo below.
At the end of the war, General Percival was part of the Cheshire Regiment and Yeomanry and he donated the pen to the regiment before his death in 1966.
Dean Paton, managing director of Big Heritage, commented: “We were absolutely blown away when the Chester Military Museum gave us permission to display this pen as part of Chester Unlocked. During 2015 we see the 70th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day, however, this signing also holds its own significant place in history so we’re delighted to be able to display this in Chester for all to see.”
To watch the formal surrender ceremony on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd 1945, please see below.