Lawrence Moore Cosgrave

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Lawrence Moore Cosgrave
Cosgrave CANADA 1945.jpg
Cosgrave signing the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945.
Born August 28, 1890
Toronto, Ontario
Died July 28, 1971(1971-07-28) (aged 80)
Knowlton, Quebec
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Forces
Rank Colonel
Awards Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Croix de Guerre (France)
Other work Diplomat

Colonel Lawrence Vincent Moore Cosgrave, DSO & Bar (August 28, 1890 – July 28, 1971) was a Canadian soldier and diplomat. He was the Canadian signatory to the Japanese Instrument of Surrender at the end of World War II.

Early life[edit]

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[1] and subsequently attended McGill University.

Military service[edit]

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[edit]

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).

The Japanese Instrument of Surrender

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 battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

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 was attributed to his being blind in one eye, having lost sight in this damaged eye in the First World War. This set off an unfortunate chain whereby each succeeding signer also signed one line too low on that copy of the documents.

Air Vice-Marshal Leonard Monk Isitt, 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.[2] Both the U.S. and Japanese copies of the surrender documents are on display on the USS Missouri, now berthed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Lawrence Moore Cosgrave knew Mamoru Shigemitsu (who accepted the surrender of Japan for the Japanese Emperor and Government) from their diplomatic days in Shanghai. It is reported that their eyes met 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 a number of years later in London, England, at the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.[3]

Cosgrave stated that 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.

The Colonel John McCrae Memorial, located at Boezinge, Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium, was opened on October 5, 1963, by his friend Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave D.S.O. and Bar.

Cosgrave wrote "Afterthoughts of Armageddon, the gamut of emotions produced by the war, pointing to a moral that is not too obvious", published 1919 by his wife Beryl (née Hunter Jones), Toronto.[4]

After the war[edit]

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.[2] For instance, he was Chargé d'Affaires in Portugal from 1952 through 1955.[5]

On July 28, 1971, Cosgrave died at his home in Knowlton (Eastern Townships), province of Quebec .


  1. ^ RMC post-nominals are student numbers and/or Military Colleges Alumni club numbers. The numbers are sequential and meaningful to alumni. Honorary graduates start with an H. The earlier alumni were ranked by their examination scores and (only) top candidates would be offered a commission.
  2. ^ a b Ellwand, Geoff. "Making a mess of history," CBC News. April 27, 2006.
  3. ^ (recited by Col. Lawrence Moore Cosgrave DSO, to his Grandson).
  4. ^ Afterthoughts of Armageddon, retrieved 2012-03-25
  5. ^ Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Complete List of Posts


External links[edit]