September 8, 1945: Aussie Destroyer K376 Balik-Papan

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Australian Destroyer K-376 "Burdekin"

I found this photo, didnt think much of it. Seemed non-descrip, so I googled to learn more about this ship. As it turned out, I found that the ship, the date, and location were all very significant - and read about it from an eyewitness to that event:

Courtesy of

AT 0815 on the 8th September, 1945, as he stepped aboard the quarter deck of the Australian frigate Burdekin, the flag of Major General E. J. Milford, G.O.C., 7 Div., was broken at the fore-truck and fluttered challengingly in the light breeze. Representatives of all the Allied services in the Balikpapan area were also embarked, and the Burdekin weighed anchor and proceeded out of Balikpapan harbour en route to a rendezvous position approximately fifty miles north, just off the mouth of the Mahakam River delta. Seven United States P.T. boats - M.T.B. Squadron 27-accompanied her. Her mission was to receive on board the Japanese naval officer in charge of Dutch Borneo, and accept his formal surrender.

While the "mosquitoes" proceeded to embark the Jap emissaries, Burdekin anchored in her appointed position and made preparations to receive them. A table and two chairs were placed on the quarter deck, the cutlass party armed and positions assigned. All was ready when, on time, the P.T. squadron hove in sight. The squadron commander in P.T.377, with three "mosquitoes" ranged on either side, approached. Formations of Mitchells, Spitfires and Boomerangs winged their way overhead.

A green Very light was fired from HMAS Burdekin as a signal to come alongside, and the guards on the gangway, armed with cutlasses and standing at ease, snapped smartly to attention with ceremonial precision, and brought their cutlasses to the "carry". The P.T. secured alongside, and Vice-Admiral Mitchishi Kamada stepped on board between the guards and saluted, a battery of cameras recording his every movement.

A red Very light was then fired and the Jap staff-Captain Tsujahashi, Lieutenant Commander Wake and the interpreter, Mr. Nagashima-followed Kamada's lead. They approached the table and stood waiting, shifting nervously from foot to foot.

Grouped around the table to witness the signing were Brigadier I. N. Dougherty (COM. 21 Inf. Brig.), Brigadier F. 0. Chilton (Com. 18 Inf. Brig.), Brig. G. H. O'Brien (C.R.A- 7 Div.), Brigadier F. G. Wood (COM. 25 Inf. Brig.), Lieutenant-Colonel Wilmouth (G.S.O.1 7 Div.), Lieutenant Colonel Lahey (A.A. & Q.M.G- 7 Div.). Captain Jacobson (G.S.0-3 (Inf.) 7 Div-), Captain Smith (A.T.S.), Group-Captain J. P. Rylands (R.A.A.F.), Captain E. W. Hoffman (U.S.N.), Captain J. C. Seale (U.S. Army). and Lieutenant-Colonel L. A. Vandeberg (N.E.I. Army).

As the P.Ts circled the ship at half speed, the ceremonial cutlass party, Major-General Milford, and Burdekin's commanding officer. Lieutenant-Commander T. S. Marchington, R.N.R., who was the naval representative, marched to the table. The staff officers saluted, and the G.O.C. returned the salute. As he turned and faced the Japs, grimly but triumphantly, each stood rigidly to attention in their dirty jungle greens and saluted the leader of the men who had brought them to this sorry pass.

Receiving an affirmative answer from the Jap admiral, that he was prepared to accept the surrender terms in full, the G.O.C. instructed him to sign the instrument of surrender, and to place his sheathed sword upon it as a token of surrender. This order was complied with, the Jap admiral looking very defeated and the picture of abject despair as he stepped back. Eight bells sounded noon and signified the conclusion of the solemn impressive ceremony.

Two white Very lights were fired to indicate to the aircraft that the formal proceedings were successfully completed. The aircraft thereupon cavorted all over the sky, zooming, climbing, and diving, and victory roll followed victory roll as the planes endeavoured to emulate, stridently, the jubilation we all felt. The Japanese emissaries reembarked in P.T-377, and Burdekin returned to Balikpapan, the general's flag being struck at 1630.

Displacement (tons): 1,450 Standard
Dimensions (feet): 301 x 36.6 x 12
Max. Speed (knots): 20
Armament: 2 x 4-inch, 8 x 20mm, 4 x .303 Vickers MGs,
4 x .303 Bren guns, 1 x hedgehog, DCs
Crew: 140

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