VJ Day is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered to the allies, effectively bringing an end to World War II.
RAFAC Interim Commandant Group Captain John Lawlor said: “Whilst the soldiers who fought in the Far East during World War II are often referred to as the ‘Forgotten Army’ I would like to think that wasn’t quite so true of the airmen involved.
“From a personal perspective all three of the squadrons that I have served on were involved and I have certainly not forgotten.
“The highest profile of the three being ‘fighter boys’ was probably No 17(F) Squadron who flew Hurricanes and Spitfires out of Burma and Calcutta in the air defence and ground attack roles.
“At the same time, less in the public eye, No 31 Squadron were operating Dakota aircraft between Calcutta and Rangoon, dropping supplies to the ‘Forgotten XIVth Army’.
“No 31 Squadron were to have their day in the sun when flying Tornados, they led the first RAF attacks of the 1991 Gulf War but that’s another story.
“Of my former squadrons in the Far East during World War II, undoubtedly the hardest time was had by No.100 Squadron.
“Operating elderly Vickers Vildebeest torpedo bomber aircraft out of Singapore, many aircraft were lost to much more modern Japanese fighter aircraft with most of the remaining squadron members being captured at the fall of Singapore.
“I would ask you all to join me in observing the two minutes silence at 1100 on Saturday 15 August in recognition of all the British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces who sacrificed so much in the war in the Far East and I personally will have a special additional thought for the captured airmen of No. 100 Sqn.”
Background on VJ Day
Even after Victory over Europe day (VE Day) in May, the war continued in the Asia-Pacific region relentlessly.
On 26 July 1945 – in line with the secret Quebec Agreement, the US, Britain and the Allies issued an ultimatum to Japan, demanding the unconditional surrender of Japanese forces or face “prompt and utter destruction”.
The Japanese government ignored the ultimatum and the deadline passed.
Due to Japan's refusal to end the war, and with Allied consent, the US dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (a city of industrial and military significance) on 6 August 1945 and then on Nagasaki (a large seaport) on 9 August 1945.
On the same day that the bomb fell on Nagasaki, the Soviet Union began their attack on Japan, having only declared war on Japan the day prior.
In total, over 200,000 people were killed by the two bombs – either directly or in the months following, after succumbing to radiation sickness, the effects of burns and other serious injuries.
Six days later, Japan's surrender was made.
Facts and Figures
The war was finally over, but the human cost of the Pacific War was high:
90,332 British troops were casualties in the war against Japan;
12,433 were held as prisoners of war.
Of the Allied forces, the USA suffered the greatest losses with more than 100,000 killed in action.
Estimates put Chinese losses both civilian and military, at approximately 20 million, others suggest the figure could be as high as 50 million.
Over 2.6 million Japanese people lost their lives including a million civilians killed as a result of military action, disease or starvation.
VJ Day is marked on the days of this initial announcement, 15 August 1945 in Japan, as well as when the surrender document was signed by Japan, officially ending World War II on 2 September 1945.
2020 marks the 75th anniversary of this momentous day and we pay tribute to those who fought for our freedoms and the way of life we hold so dear today.
Ken Myers - RAFAC 2020