VJ Day 75th Anniversary
Whilst VE Day (Victory in Europe) marked the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, many thousands of Armed Forces personnel were still engaged in bitter fighting in the Far East. Victory over Japan would come at a heavy price, and Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) marks the day Japan surrendered on the 15 August 1945, which in effect ended the Second World War.
Fighting in the Asia-Pacific took place from Hawaii to North East India. Britain and the Commonwealth’s principle fighting force, the Fourteenth Army, was one of the most diverse in history – more than 40 languages were spoken, and all the world’s major religions represented.
The descendants of many of the Commonwealth veterans of that army are today part of multicultural communities around the world, a lasting legacy to the success and comradeship of those who fought in the Asia-Pacific.
In the coming weeks the Government will announce plans to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.
Tom was one of thousands of Allied prisoners who built a rail link between Bangkok and Rangoon.
Tom Boardman became a prisoner of war when British forces surrendered to Japan in Singapore in 1942.
Tom, who passed away aged 99 in January 2018, volunteered for service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in 1939 and was detailed to go abroad in 1941.
“We sailed from Liverpool in early March 1941 and did a few days travelling across the North Atlantic towards America,” said Tom.
“Then we struck due South and went across to Freetown, West Africa - the hottest place I'd ever been to. We didn't go ashore but after a few days there we went South to Cape Town where we had a weeks’ leave. I was with Les Day, my best friend at the time, and we shared our days out together.”
After Cape Town they headed for their final destination of Singapore, via Bombay and Colombo.
Surrender in Singapore
“Of course in 1941 there was no war out in Singapore and we were very pleased to arrive there at the beginning of May, eight weeks after leaving Liverpool,” said Tom.
“It seemed heaven on earth because there was no rationing and there was as much food as you wanted. However, little did we know what was on the horizon.”
In December 1941 Japan joined the war, with British Commander Lieutenant-General Percival surrendering in February 1942.
“We were taken prisoner of war and were taken up to Changi district,” explained Tom.
“The area was barb-wired off and we lived there from February to October. In October they started moving us from Singapore up into Thailand with a promise of better camps.
“The trip from Singapore up into Thailand was made in cattle trucks without any sanitation and one meal a day. It lasted four days and four nights and it was a horrendous trip.
“I spent 12 months building the railway in horrible conditions, with horrible food and the accommodation was horrible,” he explained.
“We used to get rice and a spoonful of sugar for breakfast at the crack of dawn then they would bring out rice in containers slung onto bamboo poles at lunch time. Then we would get back to work until we'd finish the task of the day - anything from building an embankment, to building a cutting, to building a bridge or series of bridges.
“As you finished a section you moved onto another section and started working to meet up with a camp further down or higher up the railway.
More stories from WW2 Veterans can be found at www.britishlegion.org.uk
We remember those who lost their lives on active service in all conflicts; from the beginning of the First World War right up to the present day. We also remember all those who have served and their families.
June from Whissendine
Sergeant Philip Edward Marston (known as Ted), who served with the Royal Army Medical Corps. Ted was a Prisoner of War in Japanese hands in Malaya for over three years. His son believes that he also spent some time in the notorious Changi Jail in Singapore.
His story is on the Rutland County Museum News page - click here to read this fascinating story.
Philip "Ted" Marston with his sister Olwen
Peterborough Cathedral will livestream a pre-recorded VJ Day service at 5pm on VJ Day, via the Cathedral’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Saturday 15th August 2020 - A civic service for the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day
Around the globe
At the height of its expansion, Nazi Germany occupied vast areas of Europe, spanning parts of France in the West, Ukraine and parts of Russia in the East, Norway in the North and Italy in the South. The Nazis also expanded as far north as the Arctic circle and south through parts of Northern Africa, like Morocco and Algeria and beyond.
Two other countries also joined sides with Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. Together these three countries were known as the Axis powers.
When Japan attacked the naval base of Pearl Harbor in the US state of Hawaii in 1941, the US declared war on Japan and Hitler then declared war on the US. That meant the US joined the war in both Europe and Asia. Immediately becoming one of the leading allies.
President Truman announced that the Japanese Government had agreed to comply in full with the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan.
To crowds gathered outside the White House, President Truman said: “This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor.”
The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to Britain’s allies, in Australia and New Zealand, India, Burma, all countries occupied by Japan and to the USSR. But special thanks went to the United States “without whose prodigious efforts the war in the East would still have many years to run”.
The following evening King George VI addressed the nation and the Empire in a broadcast from his study at Buckingham Palace.
“Our hearts are full to overflowing, as are your own. Yet there is not one of us who has experienced this terrible war who does not realise that we shall feel its inevitable consequences long after we have all forgotten our rejoicings today.”
Historic buildings all over London were floodlit and people crowded onto the streets of every town and city shouting, singing, dancing, lighting bonfires and letting off fireworks.
But there were no celebrations in Japan – in his first ever radio broadcast, Emperor Hirohito blamed the use of “a new and most cruel bomb” used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for Japan’s surrender.
“Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but would lead also to the total extinction of human civilisation.”
What the Emperor failed to mention however, was that the Allies had delivered Japan an ultimatum to surrender on 28th July 1945.
When this was ignored, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima on 6th August and Nagasaki on 9th August, the day that Soviet forces invaded Manchuria.
The Allies celebrated victory over Japan on 15th August 1945, although the Japanese administration under General Koiso Kuniaki did not officially surrender with a signed document until 2nd September.
Both dates are known as VJ Day.
CELEBRATE VJ DAY 75
IN YOUR OWN HOME
Click on the image to down load a
VJ colouring sheet
Make your own bunting or try baking Pru Leiths Muscovado Flapjacks
Ring out for Peace
Celebrating the 75th anniversary of the cessation of the Second World War in the Far East – VJ Day 75 on 15th August 2020.
The commemorations for both VE and VJ Day will be the central part of our national remembrance and will bring home the scale of service and sacrifice made by men and women of the Second World War generation.
It is hoped that Rutland bells will ring out on this day - for more details see www.rutlandbellringing.org