VE and VJ Day 75th Anniversary commemorations have been vastly different to those originally envisaged. On 15 August 2020 there will be national events to mark the occasion, including a two-minute silence at 11am. Listen out for St Michael’s Church bells after the silence. Many of us will remember relatives or friends who died; and those who carried, or will carry, the effects of physical and mental suffering for the rest of their lives.
This is a huge and emotive subject to explore, and I hope that anyone reading this who would like to add to the stories told here, will contact me via the comments box at the end of this article. Once again I must say thank you to the folk who have helped me to tell these few stories. One of the trips I was hoping to make this summer was to the National Memorial Arboretum but instead Ive found their VJ Day activity pack, virtual guided walks and on-line exhibition really useful. These resources can be found at http://www.thenma.org.uk/events-at-the-arboretum/vj-day-75/
I’ve taken as my guide some articles from The Dabchick magazine in 1991 and 1995. Firstly, an account by Barbara Sowerby of her experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese – please click on the small image to open the full article.
Broadcast for the 70th anniversary of VJ Day
Rouse Voisey, RAF veteran, worked on the Sumatra railway as a prisoner-of-war. Barbara Sowerby was a civilian internee at Stanley prison camp. Follow the link to listen: BBC Radio 4 Today – 15 August 2015
Thanks to Ian Warrington for posting his family photo on my Aldbourne Archive Facebook page.
VJ Day 1945 – “A very happy day for my Mother. Dad would be coming home after 4 years in India. When Dad was called up it meant that Mum was left alone in London with a new baby (Chris) and she did not see Dad for the 4 years as there was no home leave all the way from India.”
Thanks to Ishbel and Annie for access to Andrew Sewell’s vast and fascinating collection of photos, diary notes and artefacts. In February 1940, and his 19th birthday, Andrew was in Scotland helping the Lanarkshire Yeomany ‘convert from horses to guns’. A year later the regiment travelled to India, which provided all the arms and equipment needed to move to Malaya in the late summer. Andrew was wounded in ‘a typical engagement between a battalion just landed at Singapore, a highly professional Indian Army unit and the Japanese’. In February 1942, Alexandra hospital was over-run by the Japanese, patients were killed and captured – Andrew’s diary is not comfortable reading and I can’t do justice to such a full and informative account here. Shortly after the capitulation by the Emperor, Russian forces entered Mukden. Andrew travelled first to Sian in South China, then to India in a USA bomber. Eventually arriving at Liverpool in early September 1945 in good time for his 25th birthday.
It is my privilege to bring the stories full circle, and return to the exhibition and coffee morning held in August 1995. The photos tell the story, and aren’t we fortunate to have them to help us remember the past.
Cyril Ernest Painter (1923 – 2017) https://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/15001651.cyril-painter/
Rear Admiral Anthony Davies (1912 – 2003) https://www.gazetteandherald.co.uk/news/7324670.naval-officer-dies-at-age-91/