Queen Elizabeth II has led commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day, which signalled the end of World War Two.
Britain’s monarch said in a statement released on Saturday: “Today we mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, which brought victory for the Allies and finally marked the end of the Second World War.
“Those of us who remember the conclusion of the Far East campaign, whether on active service overseas, or waiting for news at home, will never forget the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief. Amongst the joy at the end of the conflict, we also remembered, as we do today, the terrible devastation that it brought, and the cost borne by so many.
— Exeter City Council (@ExeterCouncil) August 15, 2020
“Prince Philip and I 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. May the memory of their sacrifice and bravery remain with us always.”
The Duke of Edinburgh, now 99, was a young Royal Navy officer aboard HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay, when he watched through binoculars as Japan formally surrendered on the 15th of August, 1945. He is one of many veterans from the UK and Commonwealth alive today to feature in a tribute to mark the anniversary called “then and now”.
75 years ago, brave men and women from many nations stood together in the Far East to bring an end to the Second World War. They fought for freedom, won the war and secured the peace.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 15, 2020
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier in the day: “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.”
The Queen and prime minister led commemorations this morning, with a bagpiper playing “Battle’s Over” at sunrise aboard HMS Belfast, part of the Imperial War Museum in London. The performance was part of the series Waking Up to Peace, with pipers playing at dawn around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and India.
The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, met with veterans of the far-east theatre of war at the National Memorial Arboretum, a site of national remembrance for the British armed services in Staffordshire. At 11 am, they led the two-minute silence.
'We were fighting for the Globe. For peace and democracy.' #VJDay marks the Japanese surrender at the end of World War Two. These veterans were in Burma when the news broke. ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/RS4D5P0yOu
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) August 15, 2020
In the war against Japan, 71,000 British and Commonwealth troops were killed, including 12,000 who died in prisoner of war camps.
Rajinder Singh Datt, a Burma veteran, told the BBC why he volunteered: “In my mind, it was not only that we were Indian, and only for India that we were fighting. But we were fighting for the globe. For peace and democracy which we are enjoying today.”