World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Clement Attlee announces  the end of WW2 - midnight on 15th August 1945

VJ Day 70
15th August

     VJ Day 70th anniversary

Commemorations will be held to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Victory over Japan Day on Saturday 15 August 2015 in Central London.

VJ Day commemorations are happening on and around 15 August across the country, with HM Government hosting a ceremony for veterans and their families in London.

Veterans, civilian internees and their descendents

Veterans and civilian internees, along with their descendents and families, can attend a special VJ Day commemorative event at Horse Guards Parade on 15 August.

The event will begin in spectacular style with a flypast of three historic aircraft; a Dakota and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Royal Navy Swordfish, together with a current RAF Typhoon.

This will be followed by a drumhead service - a church service conducted “in the field” where no altar is available - a wreath-laying ceremony, and a reading of Rudyard Kipling‘s poem ‘The Road to Mandalay’ by famed actor Charles Dance.

Members of the public

London, Whitehall

Big screens will be made available in and around Whitehall so that members of the public can get involved in the Horse Guards ceremony and, and cheer our VJ Day heroes during the parade.

Military bands will also line the route during the parade and the flypast will pass overhead.

VJ Day route map
VJ Day route map

Staffordshire, National Memorial Arboretum

A service will be held on Saturday 15 August in the Millennium Chapel, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.

On Sunday 16 August the Far East Prisoner of War Building will be rededicated followed by a wreath-laying at the Far Ear Prisoners of War Grove.

Lichfield, Lichfield Cathedral

A Service of Thanksgiving will be held on Saturday 15 August

Manningtree, Manningtree War Memorial

On Saturday 15 August - The Manningtree and District Royal British Legion Branch will hold a ceremony at the Manningtree War Memorial.

Derbyshire, Hayfield Village War Memorial

Hayfield Royal British Legion Branch will hold a Service of Thanksgiving and commemoration at the village War Memorial on Saturday 15 August.

Portslade, Easthill Park War Memorial

A Far East Prisoners of War Service of Remembrance will be held on Sunday 16 August at the Easthill Park War Memorial in Manor Road, Portslade, near Brighton.

Portsmouth, Guildhall Square

Portsmouth City Council will host a service at the Second World War Memorial, next to the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square on Saturday 15 August. The service will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, veterans, representatives from the Armed Forces and community organisations and will feature readings and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Live coverage of the commemorative events being held in London will also be shown on the Big Screen in Guildhall Square.

On Sunday 16 August a Choral Evensong will be held at Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Royal Marine musicians have been practising their manoeuvres for the drumhead service set to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day on 15 August.

A drumhead service in 2010

Members of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Portsmouth will be leading the musical contributions in London on 15 August as the nation gathers for the anniversary of the Victory over Japan in the Second World War.

The band will be performing in London as part of a ceremony at Horse Guards Parade in front of The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and hundreds of veterans of the Far East campaign.

The main focus of the event will be a drumhead service, where Royal Marines buglers and percussionists will pile up their drums to form a ceremonial altar at the centre of the parade.

 Colour Sergeant Bugler Phill Hawkins, the Bugle Major in charge of the Corps of Drums of the Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth, said:

We are very much looking forward to playing our part in the upcoming 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day.

It is important for us as a nation to pay tribute to the veterans of the Second World War and the sacrifices they made so that we might enjoy the freedoms we have today.

I would encourage everyone to show their support for our veterans by marking the anniversary on 15 August.

Drumhead ceremonies were used during times of conflict as a point of worship when no real altar could be used.

Bugler Adam Peers, 23, has just completed his training at the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth, and joins the Portsmouth band this summer. His first major event will be the VJ Day ceremony on Saturday. He said:  I am a little bit nervous but looking forward to joining the band and performing for VJ Day as my first major event.

It is an important part of our nation’s history and I will enjoy being part of the ceremony paying tribute to our veterans.

VJ Day 70

Her Majesty The Queen and members of The Royal Family will attend a series of events on Saturday 15 August 2015 in London to commemorate the 70th anniversary of VJ Day.

Members of the public are being encouraged to support this anniversary by lining Whitehall in Central London to watch a spectacular flypast of historic and modern military aircraft, view the drumhead service taking place in Horse Guards Parade on big screens, and cheer on the veterans as they parade supported by military bands and current personnel in honour of the role they played in the Second World War.

Visit VJ Day 70 for more information about the event and how you can take part. You can also join the conversation online by following #VJDay70.

The Japanese representatives aboard the USS Missouri at the Surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945
Victory over Japan Day (also known as Victory in the Pacific Day, V-J Day, or V-P Day) is a name chosen for the day on which Japan surrendered, effectively ending World War II, and subsequent anniversaries of that event. The term has been applied to both of the days on which the initial announcement of Japan's surrender was made – to the afternoon of August 15, 1945, in Japan, and, because of time zone differences, to August 14, 1945 (when it was announced in the United States and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands) – as well as to September 2, 1945, when the signing of the surrender document occurred, officially ending World War II.

August 15 is the official V-J Day for the UK while the official US commemoration is September 2. The name, V-J Day, had been selected by the Allies after they named V-E Day for the victory in Europe.
On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. In Japan, August 15 usually is known as the "memorial day for the end of the war" (終戦記念日 Shūsen-kinenbi?); the official name for the day, however, is "the day for mourning of war dead and praying for peace" (戦歿者を追悼し平和を祈念する日 Senbotsusha wo tsuitōshi heiwa wo kinensuru hi?). This official name was adopted in 1982 by an ordinance issued by the Japanese government.

Events before V-J Day
On 6 and 9 August 1945, the United States dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively. On 9 August, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan. The Japanese government on 10 August communicated its intention to surrender under the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, but with too many conditions for the offer to be acceptable to the Allies.

The news of the Japanese offer, however, was enough to begin early celebrations around the world. Allied soldiers in London danced in a conga line on Regent Street. Americans and Frenchmen in Paris paraded on the Champs-Elysées singing "Don't Fence Me In". American soldiers in Berlin shouted "It's over in the Pacific", and hoped that they would now not be transferred there to fight the Japanese. Germans stated that the Japanese were wise enough to—unlike themselves—give up in a hopeless situation, but were grateful that the atomic bomb was not ready in time to be used against them. Moscow newspapers briefly reported on the atomic bombings with no commentary of any kind. While "Russians and foreigners alike could hardly talk about anything else", the Soviet government refused to make any statements on the bombs' implication for politics or science.

In Chungking, Chinese fired firecrackers and "almost buried [Americans] in gratitude". In Manila, residents sang "God Bless America". On Okinawa, six men were killed and dozens were wounded as American soldiers "took every weapon within reach and started firing into the sky" to celebrate; ships sounded general quarters and fired anti-aircraft guns as their crews believed that a Kamikaze attack was occurring. On Tinian island, B-29 crews preparing for their next mission over Japan were told that it was cancelled, but that they could not celebrate because it might be rescheduled.

Japan accepts the Potsdam Declaration
A little after noon in Japan Standard Time on August 15, 1945, Emperor Hirohito's announcement of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people over the radio. Earlier the same day, the Japanese government had broadcast an announcement over Radio Tokyo that "acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation  coming soon," and had advised the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to U.S. President Harry S Truman via the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C. A nation-wide broadcast by President Truman was aired at seven o'clock p.m. (daylight time in Washington, D.C.) on August 14 announcing the communication and that the formal event was scheduled for September 2. In his announcement of Japan's surrender on August 14, President Truman said that "the proclamation of V-J Day must wait upon the formal signing of the surrender terms by Japan".

Since the European Axis Powers had surrendered three months earlier (V-E Day), V-J Day would be the official end of World War II. In Australia and most other allied nations, the name V-P Day was used from the outset. The Canberra Times of August 14, 1945, refers to VP Day celebrations, and a public holiday for VP Day was gazetted by the government in that year according to the Australian War Memorial.

 Public celebrations

After news of the Japanese acceptance and before Truman's announcement, Americans began celebrating "as if joy had been rationed and saved up for the three years, eight months and seven days since Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941", as Life magazine later reported. In Washington, D.C. a crowd attempted to break into the White House grounds as they shouted "We want Harry!" In San Francisco two women jumped naked into a pond at the Civic Center to soldiers' cheers. More seriously, rioting sailors looted city stores, overturned automobiles, and attacked women, leaving 11 dead and 1,000 injured. The largest crowd in the history of New York City's Times Square gathered to celebrate. The victory itself was announced by a headline on the "zipper" news ticker at One Times Square, which read "*** OFFICIAL TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***"; the six asterisks represented the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In the Garment District, workers threw out cloth scraps and ticker tape, leaving a pile five inches deep on the streets. A "coast-to-coast frenzy of [servicemen] kissing" occurred, with Life publishing photographs of such kisses in Washington, Kansas City, Los Angeles, and Miami.

Celebrating in Times Square