The Queen and members of The Royal Family will attend a series of events on Saturday 15 August to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day).
In the morning, The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh will attend a service to mark the 70th anniversary, together with veterans, former prisoners of war and civilian internees at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, organised by National FEPOW (Far East Prisoners of War) Fellowship Welfare Remembrance Association. Among the congregation will be representatives of all Regiments that made up the 18th Infantry Division of 1942 who were deployed to the Far East and representatives from Commonwealth nations who also served.
At 1400, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will join further veterans and their families, tri-Service bands and pipes and drums, and current members of the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force at a special commemorative event hosted by Her Majesty’s Government and The Royal British Legion on Horse Guards Parade. Senior military and political representatives will also be in attendance.
The event at Horse Guards will begin in spectacular style with a flypast of four historic aircraft, a Spitfire, Dakota and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Royal Navy Swordfish, together with a current RAF Typhoon. The event will also include a drumhead service and wreath-laying ceremony, special readings, and hymns sung by the Gwalia Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.
A highlight of the event will be famed actor Charles Dance reading the poem ‘The Road to Mandalay’ by Rudyard Kipling. The poem was famously set to music and was a favourite marching tune for many in the 14th Army in Burma, commanded by Field Marshal Lord Slim during the campaign.
After the event, veterans, civilian internees, their descendants and families along with current personnel will be led by pipes and drums down Whitehall and through Parliament Square to Westminster Abbey – passing the statue of Field Marshal Slim – in a special 70th anniversary parade. Along the route they will be supported by military bands, and the final part of the route will be lined by current military personnel in tribute. A reception will then take place in the grounds of Westminster Abbey, hosted by The Royal British Legion.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
It is important that we take this opportunity to pay tribute to the courage and fortitude of all those whose actions led to the final victory of Allied Forces in the Second World War.
This major anniversary is a time to recognise the sacrifices made by those who lost their lives, the veterans who fought, and the prisoners of war and civilian internees who suffered for their country. I would urge the nation to attend the many events up and down the country 70 years on from the victory in Japan.
Victor Knibb, 90, of Hampton in Surrey, is the Vice-Chairman of the Burma Star Association and served with the 4th Battalion The Royal West Kent Regiment. He said:
VJ Day means a lot to me. Around 97,000 British and Commonwealth troops died out there and more than 120,000 Japanese died in that war.
To me, VJ Day is for the memory of those men who didn’t come back. Without them we wouldn’t have had 70 years of peace and comfort.
Read more of Vic Knibb’s story here.
Speaking of his role at the event, Charles Dance said:
It is an absolute honour to be involved in the national commemorative events for the 70th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day. I would encourage everyone to attend the parade on Whitehall to show their gratitude to this extraordinary generation of individuals.
When the Second World War ended in Europe in May 1945 British and Commonwealth military personnel and civilians in the Far East were still at war, still on the frontline and still in prisoner of war camps. VJ Day 70 on 15 August presents an opportunity for us to publicly recognise the sacrifices of the veterans, internees and their descendants, and the conditions they endured during the dark years of the Second World War.
The public is being urged to support this anniversary by lining the street of Whitehall to view the national service on big screens, watch the aircraft flypast, and cheer on the veterans as they parade supported by military bands and current serving personnel. Events are also being held across the country to mark the anniversary of the victory over Japan, which brought about the end of the Second World War.
Veterans and civilian internees, along with their descendants and families, are encouraged to attend the event on Horse Guards Parade on 15 August. Those interested in attending should register their interest by contacting their association or The Royal British Legion on 0203 053 7015 or by email at VJDAY70@britishlegion.org.uk. The deadline for applications is Friday 24 July. Members of the public are also invited to come to London to view the event on big screens along Whitehall, and cheer these heroes during the parade.
For further information, please visit the VJ Day 70 homepage
Notes to Editors
The Ministry of Defence, in collaboration with The Royal British Legion, is leading commemorations this summer to mark VJ Day 70. Personnel from all three Services will provide ceremonial support to the commemorations and will assist veterans, former prisoners of war, civilian internees, and their families as they mark this historic anniversary commemorating the end of the Second World War. Funding support is available to enable veterans and their guests to attend the commemorations.
The service at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, being held in Trafalgar Square at 1100, is organised by the National FEPOW (Far East Prisoners of War) Fellowship Welfare Remembrance. All tickets for this event have now been allocated. The service is for all those involved in the war in the Far East. Among senior guests will be the National Chairman of The Royal British Legion, Viscount Slim, and the Chair of the Burma Star Association. The Right Reverend Nigel Stock, Bishop of Lambeth and Bishop to HM Armed Forces will preach at the service.
A video of veteran Vic Knibb, who was involved in the surrender ceremony between the Allied Forces and the Japanese at the end of the conflict, is available at gov.uk/vjday70. People can follow the conversation online using #VJDay70.
A Drumhead Service is traditionally a church service conducted “in the field” during armed conflict, often near the battlefront. Lacking a church altar to attend, the military command would instead use its drums, piled neatly and draped with appropriate colours such as regimental or national flags. Drumhead services are now used in ceremonial events, often those taking place in the open air, or in buildings that lack an altar.
Other events will be taking place around the country to mark VJ Day, including:
STAFFORDSHIRE, National Memorial Arboretum
- 1200 on Saturday 15 August – a service will be held in the Millennium Chapel, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony.
- 1200 on Sunday 16 August - The Far East Prisoner of War Building will be rededicated followed by a wreath-laying at the Far Ear Prisoners of War Grove.
LICHFIELD, Lichfield Cathedral
- Saturday 15 August - a Service of Thanksgiving.
MANNINGTREE, Manningtree War Memorial
- 1100 on Saturday 15 August - The Manningtree and District Royal British Legion Branch will hold a ceremony at the Manningtree War Memorial.
DERBYSHIRE, Hayfield Village War Memorial
- Saturday 15 August - Hayfield Royal British Legion Branch will hold a Service of Thanksgiving and commemoration at the village War Memorial.
PORTSLADE, Easthill Park War Memorial
- 1430 on Sunday 16 August - A Far East Prisoners of War Service of Remembrance will be held at the Easthill Park War Memorial in Manor Road, Portslade, near Brighton.
PORTSMOUTH, Guildhall Square
- 1100 on Saturday August 15 - Portsmouth City Council will host a service at the Second World War Memorial, next to the Cenotaph in Guildhall Square. The service will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, veterans, representatives from the Armed Forces and community organisations and will feature readings and a wreath-laying ceremony. Live coverage of the commemorative events being held in London will also be shown on the Big Screen in Guildhall Square.
- 1800 on Sunday 16 August - A Choral Evensong at Portsmouth Cathedral, High Street, Old Portsmouth to mark the anniversary.