You'll know the picture, but why is it so iconic? VJ Day 75th anniversary, 15th August, 2020



Victory in Japan Day – or VJ Day was celebrated on 15 August 1945 and it marked the end to World War Two. As the name suggests it was the moment that Allies Britain and the US along with other countries that were fighting together marked victory over Japan.

After days of rumours about it, US President Harry S Truman broke the news at a press conference at the White House at 7pm on 14 August. Later at midnight, Britain's new prime minister Clement Atlee confirmed it, saying: "The last of our enemies is laid low."

The following day, Japan's Emperor Hirohito was heard on the radio for the first time ever when he announced the surrender. And so 15 August 1945 was officially named as Victory in Japan day and World War Two war was finally over.


What happened in the lead up to VJ Day, and why is it important to remember it?


The fighting in Europe ended in May 1945, but many soldiers, sailors and airmen from the Allies were still fighting the Japanese in the Far East.

An estimated 71,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth died in the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

Fighting in the Asia-Pacific took place from Hawaii, Singapore, and Thailand 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. Veterans of the Far East campaign will be at the heart of the commemorations as the nation thanks them for their service and sacrifice. Many have suffered in silence throughout their lives most likely with undiagnosed Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorders. Today support services such as Outside the Wire, The Matthew Project exist to ensure that veterans of all ages can access the bespoke specialist services they require.


There is one photo which has been iconic to VJ day and that is the Kiss between a Sailor and a Nurse taken in Times Square, New York as celebrations for the end of WW2 ensued. (See above.)



VETERANS STORY


Reverend Captain Charles Ernest Alcock (later Howell) who volunteered for the Army the day war broke out. He was appointed chaplain to the 4th NORFOLKS and sent to Singapore. As the troops landed, many were killed outright and survivors marched to Changi jail.

Sent to work on the Thai Burma ‘Death’ Railway, he was responsible for the spiritual welfare and support of his men. He was one of few allowed to travel between camps, and was therefore able to transport forbidden radio parts hidden in his Holy Communion case. Many of Charles’s men died on the Railway from disease, starvation or punishment, and Charles held funerals for them. He noted down in a book and on maps meticulous personal details and the exact place of burial of each one. The book is on display at Alrewas Changi Hut and the maps at TBRC in Thailand.

Charles was awarded the MBE for his tireless work in the service of his fellow men.


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Written by Justin Smith Senior Recovery Practitioner and Karen Miller Recovery Practitioner

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