السبت , يونيو 13 2020

Queen to lead VJ Day 70th anniversary

The Queen

The Queen, who was 19 when WW2 ended, will attend the VJ Day commemorations

The Queen is to lead events to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, when Japan surrendered and World War Two ended.

She and the Duke of Edinburgh will join the prime minister and former prisoners of war at a remembrance service at St Martin’s in the Field church in London.

A service will also be held in Horse Guards Parade, followed by a flypast and march by veterans of the Far East.

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe marked the date by expressing “profound grief” at his country’s actions in WW2.

Although fighting in Europe ended in May 1945, the battle between the Allies and Japan continued.

It was only after two atomic bombs were dropped on the country that the Japanese surrendered on 15 August that year.

It ended one of the worst episodes in British military history, during which tens of thousands of servicemen were forced to endure the brutalities of prisoner of war camps, where disease was rife and there was a lack of food and water.


The message ‘VJ70’ has been spelled out on the deck of Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Fort Victoria by personnel from the RFA and the Royal Navy to mark the anniversary

Nearly shot

War veterans who experienced the atrocities leading up to VJ Day are among those taking part in Saturday’s commemorations.

Vic Knibb, 90, who served in Burma in World War Two and is vice chairman of the Burma Star Association, told BBC Radio 5 live his diary from the time bears a bullet hole from where he was nearly shot.

He said he would be attending the service in London to “remember those prisoners of war and all those that died and gave their lives”, and would then be parading this afternoon “to celebrate the fact that we survived and got back home”.

Other have also been recalling their time in the camps. Former prisoner of war Fergus Anckorn told BBC News he had had to eat “grass, leaves, scorpions, maggots, mice” while he was held captive in Singapore for nearly four years. He said he used to have nightmares about his time in captivity.

The Road to Mandalay

The service at St Martin’s in the Field will recall the estimated 71,000 British and Commonwealth casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

The last post will be sounded and a piper’s lament played as wreaths are laid at the church’s memorial to Far Eastern Prisoners of War.

Later, in Horse Guards Parade, there will be a fly-past of WW2 aircraft, attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The London service will include a reading of The Road to Mandalay, a poem which inspired a marching tune used by the 14th Army while fighting in Burma, now known as Myanmar.

Veterans and civilian prisoners will then parade down Whitehall accompanied by marching bands to a reception in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.


Within minutes of the news breaking that WW2 had ended, Piccadilly Circus filled with crowds


Traffic came to a standstill as crowds took to the streets to celebrate the end of six years of war

A number of services are also taking place across the UK, including at:

  • Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire
  • Centenary Square, Birmingham
  • St Thomas’s Church Burma Star memorial, Newcastle
  • Carlisle Castle

A service will also be held at the national Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where wreaths will be laid at the Malayan Volunteers Group Memorial.

Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC Breakfast it was important to “honour the memory of those that died, the thousands that died, serving our country, preserving our freedoms”.

He said: “I think it’s also particularly important perhaps, this anniversary, where so many of the participants are now such a great age.

“I’m going to be laying a wreath with a 97-year-old hero from those times. I think it’s very poignant and right that we’re doing this.”

‘Shadow of VE Day’

Eric Dickinson told BBC Radio 5 live he felt “extremely fortunate” to have survived his experiences in Burma.

The 93-year-old, who will be marking the day at a local church in Liverpool, said: “I’ve seen blokes more or less alongside me killed and when that type of thing happens and you see many other things you think, who’s looking after us?”

Clare Makepeace, historian of modern warfare at University College London, told BBC Radio 5 live: “VJ Day has definitely been in the shadow of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) and that’s partly because the war in Europe was the main priority of Britain.”

She added that it was “great to be here today seeing it receive the same prominence”.

Further reading

WWII: History’s most savage and devastating war

What’s the secret code that helped win WWII?

Countdown to Hiroshima: timeline of the bomb that changed the world

Was it right to bomb Hiroshima?

I fought the Japanese in Burma aged 18

VJ Day 70: The Nation Remembers is on Saturday 15 August from 10:30 BST on BBC One.

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