THE END OF HOSTILITIES
by Jerry Proc
V-E Day in Europe. What a day it must have been! The essence of what transpired over the radio waves can be best expressed by reiterating the actual messages that were copied by W/T operators in all RCN ships.
On Saturday May 5 1945, reports broadcast over the radio announced that the Germans had surrendered in North Germany, Holland and Denmark. Many W/T offices were also copying the Whitehall broadcast which sent instructions in the event that any U-boats surrendered at sea. Two days later, general news was broadcast that Germany surrendered unconditionally. This was followed by a broadcast from Whitehall on 197 kcs. An OP (Intermediate) message was addressed from Admiralty to AIG 1 (Address Indicating Group 1) meaning all Ships and Authorities Home and Abroad. The text of message number BN595 (time 072253B) said:
In the evening of Monday May 7, an O-U (Most Immediate) message from the Admiralty was addressed and broadcast to All Ships and Authorities Home and Abroad on 155 kcs. The text read:
" The German High Command has surrendered, unconditionally, all German land, sea and air forces in Europe effective from 0001B hours repetition 0001B hours ninth (9th) May repetition (9th) May. From which hour all offensive operations will cease. Due to difficulties of communications, there may be some delay in these orders reaching enemy forces. Accordingly, danger of attack by independent enemy surface craft, U-boat and aircraft may persist for some time to come. The fleet in all respects, is to remain on war footing and in a state of constant vigilance for the moment. The surrender procedure for U boats will be promulgated separately. No repetition, no release is to be made to the press pending an announcement by the heads of governments. "
On May 8 a plain text message # BN665 was received and it read:
" All instructions for the safety and control of merchant shipping remain in force until further orders. Convoys and independent merchant ships now at sea to continue their voyages as previously ordered. 08151B."Following that message, an Immediate message (BN667-081410Z) was received from NSHQ (Naval Service Headquarters Ottawa) addressed to AIG 138 (All Canadian ships and Authorities). It joyously said:
" Tuesday eighth May 1945 has been officially proclaimed a national holiday. All ships are to splice the mainbrace on that day vide Naval Order 3315 paragraph 4."(This message meant an extra tot of rum all around).
An Immediate message from Admiralty to AIG 1 was more terse. It simply said:
"Splice the Mainbrace"
On the same day, the German High Command broadcast an order for all U-boats at sea to surrender. U-boats were to surface and remain surfaced. They were to report their position and number to the nearest British, United States, Canadian or Russian wireless station; fly a black or blue flag by day and burn navigation lights by night; jettison ammunition; render mines and torpedoes safe; make all signals in plain language; refrain from scuttling or in any way damaging their U boats; report their position, course and speed every eight hours and proceed by the prescribed route to the prescribed Allied port.
On Wednesday May 9, a message is sent by the Commander in Chief Western Approaches addressed to AIG 32 (All ships and authorities in Western Approaches Command). The message read:
" On V-day whilst the battle...draws to a victorious close, I send this personal message of gratitude and admiration to all of you who have so faithfully and nobly borne the brunt of the long drawn out struggle. In winter gales of the Atlantic and every kind of weather, the little ships of this command have kept continual close touch and faith with those they had to guard. But this alone was not enough. Highly technical skill reached only by superior training, added to that, seamen's knowledge and judgement which long experience at sea under the hardest conditions given, produced the polish which earned you great but still unnumbered successes. The standards you have set and maintained in A/S warfare are in my opinion quite unsurpassed by any of the combatting nations, and your standards in all other respects have been a source of pride and joy to me. Your losses have been heavy indeed and our thoughts at this time must constantly turn to our comrades and friends who have paid the price of victory. In thanking you for your unfailing loyalty and support and wishing you good luck, remember it is still to early to relax; utmost vigilance is necessary until the last German U-boat is surrendered. - 081932B".