VJ Day

While the war in Europe ended in early May 1945 it continued in the Far East. The Japanese finally surrendered on 14 August 1945 following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The next day, Wednesday 15 August 1945 was celebrated as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day.

Saturday 15 August 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of VJ Day. The Legion, in conjunction with the MoD, held a Drumhead service on Horse Guards followed by a reception for 1,250 veterans at Westminster Abbey Gardens. A selection of images from the day's commemorations appears in the gallery below.

About VJ Day

While Britain was awash with street parties and bonfires to celebrate VE Day in May 1945, thousands of miles away, British and Commonwealth Armed Forces were still fighting in Burma, Singapore and Thailand.

The British and Commonwealth campaign in the Far East was the longest campaign of the war. Continuous fighting raged for three full years. The British Forces over there, unlike their comrades fighting in Europe, had no leave during which they could go home, even if it was for just a few days. They were there for the duration; their only hope of seeing England was in victory.

For the allied Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW) life was extremely hard. The prison camps became infamous for the harsh treatment administered to their in-mates. Torture and even executions were commonplace. Food was strictly rationed – all that many men had was a little rice and boiled river water. All the prisoners suffered with diseases such as malaria, beri beri and dysentery.

Despite their weakened state the men were put to work as forced labour. The construction of the 258 mile Thailand-Burma railway, also known as the Death Railway, was the most notorious. Around 16,000 allied POWs died from overwork and malnutrition.

Around 300,000 soldiers in the Far East became POWs; only 200,000 would survive to see victory over Japan. The enemy finally surrendered on 15 August 1945 - VJ Day.

The Second World War - the war that had stopped the world in its tracks - was finally over. Our troops would, at last, be taking the long journey home to their loved ones.

"The surrender of Japan has brought to an end six years of warfare which has caused untold loss and misery to the world." King George VI

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