Lawrence Moore Cosgrave

Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO & Bar (August 28, 1890 - July 28, 1971) was the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II.

Early life

Cosgrave was born in Toronto, Ontario, on August 28, 1890. Cosgrave was the son of Lawrence J., founder of Cosgrave & Sons Brewery Company, and brother of James, a partner with E. P. Taylor in horse racing's Cosgrave Stables. Lawrence was a 1912 graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, student # 851 and subsequently attended McGill University.

Military Service

In World War I he served as a junior artillery officer in the Canadian Field Artillery in France. Cosgrave was awarded the Distinguished Service Order first in 1916 and again in 1918; later Cosgrave was presented with the French Croix de Guerre.

Services To Canada

He served as the Assistant Canadian Government Trade Commissioner in London, England (1922-24); Canadian Trade Commissioner, Wembley, London, England (1924); Shanghai, China (1925-1935); Melbourne, Australia (1925-1937); and Sydney, Australia (1937-1942).

In World War II he was the Canadian Military Attache to Australia, S.W.P.A. but his most notable moment came on September 2, 1945 when he was the Canadian representative who signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the USS Missouri. He caused a little known mishap; Colonel Cosgrave inadvertently placed his signature one line too low on the Japanese copy of the documents. He signed on the line for the French Republic. This set off an unfortunate chain whereby each succeeding signer also signed one line too low on that copy of the documents. The Dominion of New Zealand representative, left without a blank to sign, had to have his name and country written in at the bottom margin of the document. Cosgrave did not repeat this error on the American copy. The error was "corrected" by General Sutherland who crossed out "French Republic" and wrote in "Dominion of Canada" then made similar corrections for the rest of the document. Both US and Japanese copies of the surrender are on display on the USS Missouri, berthed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

L. Moore Cosgrave (Signatory for Dominion of Canada, accepting the Japanese Surrender) knew Mamoru Shigemitsu (who accepted The Surrender of Japan for the Japanese Emperor and Government) from their diplomatic days in Shanghai, their eyes crossed when Mamoru Shigemitsu boarded the Missouri, they mutually smiled with recognition, and then Mamoru Shigemitsu realized where he was and became stern and serious. They met each other again many years later in London U.K., at the Coronation of Elizabeth II, 1953. (recited by Col. Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO, to his Grandson).

The poem "In Flanders Fields" by fellow Canadian and friend Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was written upon a scrap of paper upon the back of Colonel Cosgrave during a lull in the bombings on May 3, 1915 after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8 that year in Punch magazine, London.

After the war

Cosgrave's service to Canada continued after the war in various consular posts in Asia; and in the 1950s, his diplomatic career continued in European consular posts. For instance, he was Chargé d'Affaires in Portugal from 1952 through 1955.

On July 28, 1971, Cosgrave died at his home in the Montreal townships (Knowlton).



Further reading

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