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Cover Sent from the USS Iowa Anchored in Tokyo Bay at the End of World War II

Updated: Mar 20

(This article was published in the Airpost Journal, April 2024, Vol. 95, No. 4, Whole No. 1126, pp. 144-146. A PDF of the published article is attached.)


This is a historically interesting cover (Figure 1). It has a US Navy postmark from August 30, 1945, in Tokyo Bay, Japan. It is franked with a 6-cent US airmail stamp that is #C25 in the US Scott catalog. The cover has a cachet that depicts a US battleship in Tokyo Bay with Mount Fuji in the background. The text of the cachet reads "Occupation of Japan/30 August 1945."


I acquired this cover in a box full of covers in early 2023. After learning about the sender and connecting with his son and daughter-in-law, I decided to donate this item to the Pacific Battleship Center in San Pedro, California so that it could be added to the World War II artifacts of the USS Iowa.


The cover was sent by Chief Radio Technician (CRT) Samuel Bayer to his parents Harry and Margaret Bayer who resided at 223 Avenue N in Brooklyn, New York. At the time, CRT Bayer served on board the Iowa, a battleship of some renown. The cover passed through the Fleet Post Office (FPO) in San Francisco on its way to Brooklyn.


The Iowa was commissioned on February 23, 1943, and according to his son, Jonathan, CRT Samuel Bayer was a "plank-owner," meaning that he was on the ship when it was commissioned. He was aboard in November 1943 when the Iowa carried President Frank Delano Roosevelt and other key US officials to Algeria on the first leg of the journey to the Tehran Conference with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Josef Stalin. In fact, CRT Bayer briefly met President Roosevelt on that journey. The Iowa was subsequently transferred to the Pacific where it participated in a number of battles.


After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August 1945, Japan's surrender was assured, and on August 29, 1945, the Iowa steamed into Tokyo Bay with her sister ship the USS Missouri, the ship on which the surrender ceremony was held on September 2, 1945. Figure 2 shows the Iowa and Missouri side-by-side on August 20, 1945, just before they sailed into Tokyo Bay and when CRT Bayer posted his letter home. The Iowa remained part of the occupying force until it departed Tokyo Bay on September 20, 1945, bound for the US with homeward bound soldiers and former POWs.


Samuel Bayer (Figure 3) was born in Brooklyn in 1922 and enlisted in the Navy on January 21, 1942, less than two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Navy and on board the USS Iowa until at least December 1945.


According to the 1950 US Census, Samuel was single and living with his parents in Brooklyn. He worked as a junior electrical engineer for a communications equipment manufacturer. That same year (after the census was taken, obviously), Samuel married Margaret Ruth Waiman, and they had two children.


Samuel passed away in 2013 at the age of 91 and was buried at Mount Hebron Cemetery in Flushing, New York. His wife Margaret passed away seven years earlier in 2006.


Samuel's son Jonathan and his daughter-in-law Shomeres Devorah, with whom I connected with via Ancesty.com, said that Samuel "was a delight. He would often share his memories of the Iowa, with a gift of humor." Jonathan shared a few videos of Samuel visiting the USS Iowa about six weeks before he passed. They are definitely worth watching and can be viewed at this link.


The USS Iowa was decommissioned in 1949, but was recommissioned during the Korean War and again in the early 1980s during President Ronald Reagan's push for a 600-ship Navy. It was decommissioned for the final time in 1990 and struck from the Navy's roll in 2006, opening the way for the USS Iowa to become a museum ship. It is now berthed in San Pedro, California under the care of the Pacific Battleship Center and is open for tours. To learn more about the USS Iowa, see its Wikipedia article and the Pacific Battleship Center's website.


Figure 1

Figure 2 - USS Iowa (right) and the USS Missouri (left) on August 20, 1945. Source: Wikipedia.

Figure 3 - Samuel Bayer. Source: Ancestry.com.



April 2024 pages pages 8, 9
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Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson
Apr 02, 2023

Thanks for this insightful article on the letter/cover that my Dad sent his parents at the end of the war from Tokyo. I was not aware of its existence. Thanks for donating it to the Iowa; he would have appreciated that. And I am pleased that Jonathan was able to provide some additional context and background as well.

Regards,

David A. Bayer

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