The photo depicts the surrender of Japanese forces in Vietnam to Brigadier E.C.J. Woodford, Commander of the 32d Indian Infantry Brigade (of the British Army). Note the British Union Jack draped over the table. The Japanese officer was Major General Hattori who offered his personal sword (forged in the year 1511) ceremoniously as a symbol of surrender. The ceremony took place sometime in late 1945 ... and herein lies three stories:
1. A little known historical fact regarding Vietnam is that there were actually THREE Vietnam Wars ... the first was the British War which lasted from 1945-1946 ... this was followed by the French Indochina war (1946-1954) ... and ultimately the US Vietnam War. What is fascinating about the FIRST Vietnam War is that the Japanese troops fought alongside the British, and ultimately under British Command, against the fledging Communish guerilla movement headed up by Ho Chi Minh. In fact, in March 1945, the Japanese (who had coexisted with the Vichy French army in Vietnam throughout the course of WWII) eventually disarmed and interred the French ... and awaited the arrival of the British Army. After the Viet Minh were silenced, the Japanese soldiers were repatriated to Japan.
2. A 1920 Sandhurst graduate, Brigadier Woodford was a much decorated British senior officer who had fought in a number of WWII battles across Africa, to include Egypt, Sicily, Burma and eventually Vietnam. After the war, he was sent to the National War College in Washington, DC, and it was there he met his future bride. They married and his next assignment was back to Egypt where they welcomed the birth of their son, Peter Woodford. Peter, in turn, became an officer in US Army and served with me in Germany in the early 1970's and who is now a successful attorney in Chicago. Further, he eventually married my secretary, Helga Woodford (nee Teschner) ....... and thus the circle is closed.
3. Please see the comments below by General Woodford (Retired) of the British Army for more on this story and the strange turn of events ... as well as a history of "The Woodfords" in British military history.
For more on this fascinating historical sidelight, go to: