Today three Scottish veterans met the Red Arrows at Glasgow Prestwick Airport to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory Over Japan Day, which effectively ended the Second World War. Veterans Whitson Johnson, Albert Lamond and Barney Roberts greeted the pilots as they stopped to refuel during the Red Arrows’ nationwide tour and exchanged their stories of serving in the Armed Forces three quarters of a century apart.
Commemorations have taken place around the country today to mark the anniversary including a National service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. As part of the commemorations, the Red Arrows conducted a flypast over Glasgow Prestwick Airport before landing to meet with the veterans.
Ninety-six year old Whitson Johnson served in the RAF from 1942 to 1947 deciphering codes in support of the Fourteenth Army in the Far East and spent time in Bombay, Calcutta, Chittagong, Hmawbi and Burma.
“As far as I was concerned, 15 August was when the War ended. That was a great day. I will never forget it. War is a terrible thing. I learned that lesson and I realise there is no point in war. I am glad that the War finished when it did, and the Allies were victorious. I can hardly believe that it has been 75 years since that day.”
Veteran Whitson Johnson
Ninety-four year old Albert Lamond served in the Royal Navy from 1943 to 1947 as a Signalman and was at Sword Beach during the D-Day campaign. He was later attached to the Pacific Fleet that joined with the American Navy under the command of Admiral Halsey of the US Navy in the Far East.
Ninety-three year old Bernard “Barney” Roberts served in the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1947 initially serving on a minelayer to protect the Arctic Convoys from German U-boats before fighting in Italy and later in North Africa.
“On VJ Day I felt great relief and happiness that it was finally over. My message to everyone today and in particular the younger generation is that we are very lucky, very lucky indeed not to be involved in a war like the Second World War. So many of us owe the freedoms we have today to the Second World War generation.”
Veteran Barney Roberts
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack said: “Today on the 75th anniversary of VJ day, my thoughts are with the wartime generation who sacrificed so much for our country’s freedom. It is a day to reflect on the selflessness of so many men and women. It’s thanks to veterans such as those who met up with the Red Arrows at Glasgow Prestwick Airport that we are able to live freely. Today as a nation we honour and remember them all.”
Scottish-born Squadron Leader Martin Pert, Team Leader and Red 1 of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “It is an enormous privilege, as members of the modern day Royal Air Force, to meet these incredible veterans as they continue to provide inspiration to us all, particularly when we reflect on their sacrifice and service.
“Although separated by different generations and circumstances, there is still so much we have in common with these individuals – indeed, the UK’s Armed Forces in 2020 seek to embody the same values, qualities and determination of our forebears.
“The Red Arrows were honoured to play a high-profile role in marking the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, in doing so, both remember those who gave so much to secure victory in the Second World War as well as celebrating this important milestone together as a country.”
CEO of Legion Scotland Dr Claire Armstrong said: “I can think of few better ways of commemorating the end of the Second World War than a dazzling flypast from the world-famous Red Arrows. It really was so fitting that one of the veterans that got to meet the pilots was Whitson Johnson – a man who epitomises the Legion Scotland motto of ‘Service, not Self’ and unquestioningly did what was asked of him to help the War effort. We are proud to highlight the incredible service and sacrifice made by those who fought in the Far East campaign and unite the nation in remembrance of the generation who gave so much.”