Britain on Saturday observed the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Japan in World War II, with many events held online due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Victory in Japan (VJ) Day marks 75 years since Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, ending hostilities. A formal surrender ceremony was held on September 2 on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Fighting in the Asia-Pacific had continued for several months after the defeat of Nazi Germany – Japan’s ally – in May 1945.
Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, and his wife, Camilla, attended a VJ Day national service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum.
The royal couple led a national two-minute silence and laid wreaths at the Kwai Railway Memorial, with some war veterans and their relatives looking on from a safe distance.
In his speech, Charles said “Today we remember and give thanks
for the extraordinary bravery, resourcefulness and tenacity demonstrated by those who fought in the Asia-Pacific theatre of the Second World War.
“Together, they comprised a force whose courage was as remarkable as its diversity. Hundreds of thousands of troops from India, Burma, China and across Asia, were joined by hundreds of thousands more from Europe, Africa, Australasia and North America.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also present. He had sent a letter to Far East veterans, saying: “You were the last to come home but your achievements are written in the lights of the glittering capitals of the dynamic region we see today.”
Johnson and other leaders including US President Donald Trump, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed their thanks to those who served in a video message.
An estimated 50,000 British and Commonwealth service personnel
died in the war against Japan, half of them in prison camps.
Celebrations of the 75th anniversary include a fly-past by jets from Britain’s Red Arrows air force display team. While bad weather stopped the display over London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, crowds enjoyed the sight in Glasgow, Belfast and other cities.
In London, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, accompanied by military chiefs.
Britain’s Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II and father of Charles, featured in a photo montage with other veterans.
The queen issued a statement saying she and Prince Philip “join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.”
Philip, 99, was present in Tokyo Bay in 1945.
Fighting in Europe ended in May 1945. This is commemorated on May 8, Victory in Europe (VE) Day, although this year, many VE Day events across Europe were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Imperial War Museums released war-time testimonies under the headline “Voices of War” and have published historic photos and films.