UK marks 75th anniversary of VJ Day

UK marks 75th anniversary of VJ Day

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Media captionThe Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended a service of remembrance for VJ Day

The Royal Family is leading the UK’s commemorations on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day – the day World War Two ended with Japan’s surrender.

The Prince of Wales led a two-minute silence at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, as part of a service of remembrance.

The Duke of Edinburgh is also featuring in commemorations, appearing in a photo montage with other veterans.

And a message from the Queen thanked those “who fought so valiantly”.

She said: “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.”

The Prince of Wales attended the event at the arboretum with the Duchess of Cornwall.

He laid a wreath at the Kwai Railway Memorial, as a small number of veterans and their relatives sat on benches dotted around the garden, to maintain social distancing.

A Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast also commemorated those who fought.

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In a speech, Prince Charles said the veterans’ service “will echo through the ages.”

He referred to the description of them as the Forgotten Army, noting how many soldiers, nurses and other personnel felt aggrieved at the way some of the public associated the end of World War Two with the victory in Europe in May 1945.

“Let us affirm, they and serving veterans are not forgotten, rather you are respected, thanked and cherished with all our hearts and for all time,” he said.

The prime minister, who also attended and read the poem The Exhortation before the silence, thanked those who had fought for restoring “peace and prosperity”.

Earlier in the morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was joined by military chiefs as he placed a wreath at the Cenotaph in London.

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The Duchess of Cornwall speaks with a veteran

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Boris Johnson laid a wreath and read the war poem Exhortation – saying “they shall grow not old”

The Red Arrows – who were due to carry out a flypast over the capital cities of all four nations of the UK – were forced to cancel flights over Edinburgh, Cardiff and London due to poor weather conditions.

They were at least able to fly over Belfast, and pilots met three veterans during a stop at Prestwick, near Glasgow.

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The Red Arrows flew over the Titanic slipway and the Titanic Museum in Belfast

Throughout the day, large screens in locations across the country are featuring a photo montage of veterans – each pictured with an image of themselves from their time in service.

The montage is also a rare appearance for Prince Philip, 99, who has only been seen a handful of times in public since retiring in 2017 – most recently for a military event at Windsor Castle.

Prince Philip was a young Royal Navy officer aboard a warship in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered.

On Saturday evening, the BBC will air a pre-recorded programme from 20:30 called VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, which will tell the story of those who served in the Far East and include a message from Prince William.

Prisoners of war

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.

The fighting in Europe had ended in M

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