VJ Day 15th Aug 2020 – The War in Japan Part 1

Today we remember the atrocities of the war in Japan in a three part series.

The War in Japan Part 1 – 75th Anniversary

VJ Day – or Victory over Japan Day – on 15 August 1945 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. It is estimated that there were 71,000 British and Commonwealth casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity. More than 2.5 million Japanese military personnel and civilians are believed to have died over the course of the conflict.

Prisoners at Changi Jail.

Many prisoners of the Japanese had been forced to build the infamous Burma railway, often called the Death Railway and carry out other punishing work on rations of just a bowl of rice a day.

The railway ran 250 miles between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar), to supply troops and weapons in Japan’s Burma campaign.

The fighting in Europe had ended in May 1945, but many Allied servicemen were still fighting against Japan in east Asia.

Japan rejected an ultimatum for peace, and the US believed that dropping a nuclear bomb would force them to surrender.

Four months after VE Day the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The first on Hiroshima, the second on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 214,000 people.

Two weeks later Japan surrendered.

Today commemorations began at sunrise, with a piper playing Battle’s Over at the Imperial War Museum’s HMS Belfast in London.

P/Sgt Neil Esslemont- RAF Halton Pipes & Drums on board HMS Belfast at Tower Bridge, London. The ship was part of the Pacific Fleet during the war on Japan.

Military pipers were also playing at dawn in India, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal. In Japan, national memorial services have been held in Tokyo.

Clr Sgt Lil Bahadur Gurung piping at the VJ Day 75th commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire. The Ghurka’s played a major role in the War on Japan.

Capt Sir Tom Moore, who served in the Burma campaign has previously described VJ Day as “the most special day”.

“It was VJ Day when the pain of war could finally start to fall away as peace was declared on all fronts,” said Sir Tom – who raised millions of pounds for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden during lockdown.

“I respectfully ask Britain to stop whatever it is doing and take some time to remember.”

“We must all take the time to stop, think and be thankful that were it not for the ultimate sacrifices made all those years ago by such a brave band of men and women, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today, even in these current difficult times.”