Brigadier General Robert Blake taking operational control of Truk Lagoon

Brigadier General Robert Blake taking operational control of Truk Lagoon

Three days before the surrender date, Brigadier General Robert Blake was designated Prospective Island Commander, Truk, a designation which was changed on 27 September to Prospective Commanding General, Occupation Forces, Truk and Central Carolines. The mission of his command was to occupy and develop Truk “as a fleet anchorage with facilities ashore limited to recreational purposes and for the support of assigned aircraft and the servicing of transient aircraft.”12 With the aid of a small staff under the jurisdiction of the Island Commander, Guam, General Blake organized the unit that was to comprise the Truk Occupation Force. Because of the urgency of the Marine Corps demobilization program, the unit was formed slowly. Initial administrative duties were undertaken by the staff of the 2d Provisional Antiaircraft Artillery Group before it was disbanded. The headquarters of this group, however, provided the nucleus for the staff of the occupation force. The first detail of the new force to report in was the military government unit. A Base Headquarters Company (Provisional), was activated on 1 October 1945. It was formed according to the T/O of a Provisional Brigade Headquarters Company, and did not reach full strength until shortly before it departed for Truk.

In keeping with the future tasks of the force, elements of the 29th Naval Construction Battalion and Acorn 5213 were assembled from bases all over the western Pacific. Both of these units also suffered from the loss of skilled and experienced artisans.

On 14 November, the 2d Battalion, 21st Marines, 3d Marine Division (then still on Guam), came under the control of the occupation force. The commander of 2/21, Lieutenant Colonel Lyman D. Spurlock, and a small detachment of Marines from the battalion had been sent to Truk in September to supervise the evacuation of Japanese personnel and Koreans, Okinawans, and Formosans, who had been members of Japanese controlled forces. On 28 October, SpurIock was relieved by his executive officer, Major Robert J. Picardi, who remained in charge of the evacuation program until Lieutenant Colonel Spurlock returned to Truk on 25 November with the rest of 2/21 and the occupation force.

Truk Surrender 02

To that date, 6,696 Japanese civilian and military and Japanese-controlled forces, and their wives and children, had been repatriated; by December, this number had risen to 20,410, leaving 19,575 remaining in the islands. In January, 14,298 more evacuees left Truk, and in February, 1,426. At the end of April 1946, only 3,811 disarmed military personnel and their families remained, most of them working as laborers and assisting in the destruction of Japanese arms, fortifications, and munitions. The remarkable factor in the history of all of the former Japanese possessions in the Pacific that were surrendered to and occupied by American forces is the high degree of cooperation, docility, and lack of rancor on the part of the losers. There were few incidents of Japanese intransigence; those that did occur took place among the accused war criminals, who were usually more confused and contrite than sullen and unremitting.

— From “Victory and Occupation” by Frank Shaw: Historical Branch, G-3 Division, HQ/USMC

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