Most surrender ceremonies in history are nothing more than a few officers signing a document around a table. But sometimes, the end of a military conflict is marked with more than that. British armies have long had elaborate rules for what happens when a battle ends, including the playing of certain music and marching with flags. Likewise, major treaties are often marked with fanfare or celebrations.
The two most famous surrender ceremonies in history are likely the two that marked the end of World War II in Europe and Japan, respectively. But while the German surrender was a utilitarian affair, with just a few officers signing a treaty (twice, as it turns out), the Japanese surrender involved historical flags, huge shows of force, and a massive flyover by thousands of airplanes.Here are some of the more famous surrenders in history, or times when a military commander particularly distinguished themselves by their conduct to a beaten enemy.
The combined French and Colonial American armies laid siege to British forces at Yorktown for nearly a month, smashing its defenses with repeated artillery barrages and infantry charges. British commander Lord Cornwallis agreed to surrender on October 17, 1781, and a formal ceremony was held two days later.The British requested that their usual surrender ceremony take place, involving pageantry, flag waving, and shouldered muskets. General Washington refused, and instead, the British infantry marched with their muskets upside down, and attempted to destroy them. Cornwallis refused to attend the ceremony, and Washington, as per custom, refused the sword of the British second-in-command.