Presentation of Naval Historical Society of Australia Plaque on behalf of the Victorian Chapter to the USS Missouri Memorial Association

On the morning of Tuesday the 6th. of September 2005, Denise and I took The Bus, from downtown Honolulu to the Bowfin Memorial, transferred to the Missouri trolley for the ride across the bridge to Ford Island.

Here we met in the office of Lee Collins Sr, the Vice President of Marketing and Sales for the Association, he had a piece of the Battleship's decking mounted on his office wall. He took it down and presented it to me, what a wonderful souvenir to mark this memorable visit, on our return home I will need to declare it to the Australian Customs, as we are very chary of importing timber into our country, but would hope that it does not pose any problems, I would hate to lose my prize.

This official photo of handing over the NHSA plaque. It shows the brass plate commemorating the actual place where the Instrument of Surrender Documents were signed on the 2nd. of September 1945.

This official photo of handing over the NHSA plaque. It shows the brass plate commemorating the actual place where the Instrument of Surrender Documents were signed on the 2nd. of September 1945.

We went on board, and on the Surrender Deck, close to the Brass Deck Plate marking the place of the surrender signing in 1945, I handed over the plaque for the Victorian Chapter of the NHSA. Lee had his photographer record the hand over, and has promised to mail a copy to me at home in Australia.


Presentation of a plaque, by Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie Gregory RAN. R'td. on behalf of the Victorian Chapter of the Naval Historical Society of Australia, to the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

Mr President and members of the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Denise and I are delighted to be with you today in this historic ship.

I went to war as a 17 year old Cadet Midshipman in the Royal Australian Navy in September of 1939, spending the most part of the next two years at sea in the North Atlantic. Coming home to Australia via the Atlantic, the Panama Canal, and the Pacific, to arrive in Melbourne on that Day of Infamy, the 7th. of December 1941, with the cowardly attack by the Japanese on this very site at Pearl Harbor.

Your President, Franklin Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and I knew then, that at last we were on the path to eventual victory, we would win this war in time. It was later reported that Winston Churchill had his first good sleep for a long time that night.

1942 brought dark days to Australia, Singapore fell, Darwin was bombed, RAN ships Perth and Yarra were sunk, at the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese were stopped from invading Port Moresby, and then at Midway the USN gained a resounding victory.

The Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin turned both his eyes and voice to the east, across the vast Pacific Ocean to the United States with his plea for help, and the Alliance between both our Countries and our Navies was forged.

Ships of the Royal Australian Navy fought with their US counterparts in Naval Task Forces from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay.

At the Battle of Savo Island on the 8th. of August 1942, my heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra was sunk to lose 84 shipmates, but your navy suffered grievous losses in the sinking of US heavy cruisers Quincy, Astoria, and Vincennes, and 1,000 of your sailors died that night.

Guadalcanal just had to be held by US Marines, and over August/ November that year some of the bloodiest battles at sea in WW2, were fought in that arena.

But, Major General AA Vandergrift and his Marines held fast, and to quote Admiral Bull Halsey " The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal, and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific."

Together we marched across the Pacific to finally be in Tokyo on that wonderful day on Sunday the 2nd. of September 1945, when, on the deck of this great battleship, General Douglas MacArthur orchestrated the Surrender of Japan.

My wife and I were priviliged to witness the 60th. anniversary of that historic day here last Thursday, an event we will always recall with affection.

Today, on behalf of the Victorian Chapter of the Naval Historical Society of Australia I am delighted to present this plaque to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, in a spirit of friendship, remembering that the bond between both our Nations and our Navies has never been stronger than it is today in 2005.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Captain's Cabin.
Lee now produced a bunch of keys, and unlocked the Captain's cabin so we might have a look inside. It was spacious and well fitted out, a large polished table for about 12 dominated, used for Corporate Lunches and Dinners in the cause of Fundraising for the costly upkeep of the ship. In cabinets were any number of precious artefacts, including a lovely silver model of Missouri, and a pristine cap that had belonged to Admiral Halsey.

We asked how the Association had come by such a treasure, and Lee explained he found it advertised for sale on E-Bay, put up by the Admiral's son, who wanted US$ 5,000 for it. Lee had a well heeled Missouri supporter who was approached, and he opened up his cheque book and wrote a cheque for the required amount.

The piece of the Missouri Deck, with the Naval College crest above and my Identification below

The piece of the Missouri Deck, with the Naval College crest above

Tour of the Missouri.
Lee arranged for the only guide who had served in the ship to take us on a guided tour, and Tony, a Philippino, who had served as the steward to three of Missouri's Captains, gave us, with a few other people, a tour of this ship, who had been fitted with missiles and went off to the Gulf War. One Kamikaze had crashed on board, having been cut in half on its inwards flight, its dead pilot was buried by the orders of the Captain with Military Honours.

The Wardroom has a large model of the ship on display, and we saw plans in the near future wherby children can arrange a sleep over in some of the old Officer's territory.

We finalised our visit by joining The Truman's Chow Line in one of the Sailor's Mess rooms, to have a light lunch and coffee.

Once more we had been treated royally on this, our second visit to Missouri, and we would want to record our sincere thanks to all involved from this ship's Memorial Association who have facilitated our two visits on board this historic Battleship.


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