VJ Day

VJ Day: Royals Lead Commemorations As UK Marks 75th Anniversary

Second World War veterans also attended the ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The 75th anniversary of VJ Day – which effectively ended the Second World War – has been commemorated with a series of events honouring those who fought in the Far East.

A televised remembrance service took place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, where a two-minute silence was led by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at 11am.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson read the Exhortation before the silence, which was followed by a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast over the arboretum.

Richard Day, 93, from north London, who was involved in the decisive Battle of Kohima in north-east India which marked a turning point in the Far East land campaign, was among about 40 veterans at the ceremony of remembrance.

Mr Day, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, served in the forces which relieved Kohima and Imphal.

He told of how he contracted malaria and dysentery at the same time, while fighting a highly determined enemy.

He said: "I think the worse part was crossing rivers at night, it was cold at night – then all night in wet clothes and wet equipment, still having to move about.

"They (the Japanese) were very determined for their emperor.

"It was a glory for them to die for their emperor. They didn’t appear to have any fear at all."

Charles and the duchess laid poppy posies and wreathes at the Kwai Railway Memorial, while veterans looked on from benches dotted around the memorial, to maintain social distancing.

Prince Charles and Camilla led the nation's two-minute silence at 11am (Picture: PA).

Earlier, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in a special message gave "grateful thanks" to all those who fought for the Allied nations.

Prince Philip, 99, a Royal Navy officer during the war, also featured alongside other veterans on a number of large screens across the UK, including the Piccadilly Curve, in a photo-montage showing veterans today and when they served.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant tributes to mark the landmark anniversary have been organised online and in television.

The Duke of Cambridge is to appear on screens across the country in VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, a pre-recorded BBC programme filmed at Horse Guards Parade.

Developed with the Ministry of Defence, and involving 300 Armed Forces personnel, the scheduled programme will be broadcast at 8.30pm.

WATCH: "To all who served, we thank you": World leaders pay tribute to those who fought in the Second World War.

Speaking ahead of the ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum, Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, told Forces News: "The priority for the last three years of the war was very much about the defeat of Germany, and we stepped through VE Day back in May this year. 

"But the Far East was important and it's still important."

Small poignant ceremonies took place across London to begin the day, including a piper playing Battle’s Over at the Imperial War Museum’s HMS Belfast at sunrise, as part of a tribute entitled Waking Up To Peace.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was joined by military chiefs as he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, on Saturday morning.

In a first since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, the RAF’s Red Arrows had scheduled a UK-wide tour with flypasts to take place over the four nation’s capital cities.

However, the flypasts over London, Edinburgh and Cardiff were cancelled due to poor weather, the Ministry of Defence said.

The Red Arrows flew over Glasgow Prestwick Airport, where the aircraft landed to greet three Second World War veterans, and the scheduled flight over Belfast city centre took place at 2pm.

Cover image: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall lay flowers during the national service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum (Picture: PA).