THE Mayor of Worcester will lead a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day today (Saturday) – the day on which the Second World War finally came to an end
Coun Jo Hodges will open the event at 11am at the Guildhall in High Street. It will include prayers, poetry and a minute’s silence.
Social distancing requirements mean there will only be 15 official attendees in the Guildhall courtyard, but members of the public are welcome to watch from outside the railings.
Among those in attendance will be the High Sheriff of Worcestershire, Mark Jackson OBE; David Waldron, Royal British Legion Worcestershire Chairman; Jean Waldron, Royal British Legion Worcester Chairman; Major Lee Dandy of the Royal Artillery 214 Battery; the Leader and Deputy Leader of Worcester City Council, Cllrs Marc Bayliss and Adrian Gregson; representatives of Worcestershire County Council and the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire; and a Royal British Legion standard bearer.
The Mayor said: “Many people think the Second World War ended on 8 May 1945 on VE Day, but the reality is that many thousands of Armed Forces personnel were still involved in bitter fighting in the Far East until August.
“Britain and the Commonwealth’s principle fighting force in the Far East, the Fourteenth Army, was one of the most diverse in history – over 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 in Worcester and across the UK, and one of the many important aspects of VJ Day is the commemoration of that lasting legacy.”
The ceremony will include a welcome and speech by the Mayor, readings of the Kohima Epitaph and a verse from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, prayers by the Mayor’s Chaplain and the minute’s silence.
Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Lt Col Patrick Holcroft LVO OBE, paid tribute on the eve of VJ Day’s 75th anniversary marking peace in Japan and the end of the Second World War.
He said: “The 75th anniversary of the formal surrender of Japan, and with it the ending of the Second World War, will fall on Saturday August 15, 2020.
“After six years of intense global struggle, Britain was finally at peace and the forces which had threatened the nation’s existence, values and way of life had finally been defeated–with the significant help and sacrifice of our allies.
Earlier this year, we remembered the 75th Anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on VE Day. But even though by May 1945 the war in Europe was over, the struggle in the Far East was to continue for another four months.
Since December 1941, British and Empire forces had been involved in a long and costly struggle against a remorseless and implacable foe.
Those service personnel captured by the Japanese early in the war in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore suffered unimaginable hardships in captivity.
After early Japanese successes, British and Empire forces serving in the British XIV Army regrouped and fought back in mountainous, jungle-clad terrain in extreme conditions of heat and monsoon to inflict a comprehensive defeat on the Japanese in Burma.
This victory altered the course of the war and within all ranks of XIV Army, it set an example of multi-racial comradeship and cooperation which has particular resonance for us today.
Amongst those involved in this campaign were men and women from Worcestershire and a certain Colonel Sir Tom Moore, whose incredible fortitude surprised us all this summer and whose fundraising for NHS Charities was recently recognised by Her Majesty The Queen.”
The Prince of Wales, accompanied by Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, will lead the UK in a national moment of remembrance and thanksgiving for all those who served in the Far East at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire as part of a special televised service.
There will be a two minute silence at 11am.