Historic Japanese surrender snapped by Sidmothian

Front row seat: Harold took this picture as Major General Umekichi Okada and Vice Admiral Ruitaro Fu

Front row seat: Harold took this picture as Major General Umekichi Okada and Vice Admiral Ruitaro Fujita formally surrendered Hong Kong to the British - Credit: Archant

Seventy years ago this month, a Sidmothian more than 6,000 miles from home bore witness to the end of hostilities in the Far East – and the final days of World War Two.

The victory parade in Hong Kong on September 16, 1945.

The victory parade in Hong Kong on September 16, 1945. - Credit: Archant

At the historic surrender of Hong Kong by the Japanese on September 16, 1945, Harold Fish had a front-row seat as an official photographer.

Armed with his camera, the chief petty officer snapped away as Major General Umekichi Okada and Vice Admiral Ruitaro Fujita signed over control of the port at the city’s Government House.

Once the ceremony had concluded, Harold documented the victory parade through the streets of Hong Kong.

Sidmouth born and bred, Harold grew up learning to sail and developed a lifelong interest in the sea.

Cheif petty officer Harold Fish (centre) with released British prisoners

Cheif petty officer Harold Fish (centre) with released British prisoners - Credit: Archant


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He entered the Royal Navy Patrol Service as a volunteer in 1940.

His first posting was aboard HMS Solstice, which was deployed in the Thames Estuary and North Sea to sweep for enemy mines.

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During the Normandy Landings in 1944, Harold served aboard HMS Romney, and during D-Day, his vessel swept the channel of the bay of the River Seine to clear the way for the landing crafts.

He later transferred to the battleship HMS Anson, where he would eventually ship out to join the British Pacific Fleet.

HMS Anson left Sydney on August 15 – a week after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki - for Hong Kong, and by the time she arrived, hostilities were all but over.

And although the Japanese had formally surrendered to the Allies on September 2, 1945, it was not until September 16 that the official transfer of Hong Kong took place.

After leaving the navy in 1946, Harold returned to Sidmouth to run Hayes Photographic Studio with his wife, Judy.

Harold and his family built two yachts. The second, Guida, was launched in 1979.

During her active 22 years of service, Guida travelled 85,000 miles cruising the Baltic, completing a world circumnavigation and three separate cruises to the West Indies, crossing the Atlantic five times.

Harold died in 2002.

Thank-you to Sidmouth Museum for supplying the pictures.

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