This Saturday marks the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Japan and the final end of WWII. Unfortunately, much as with VE Day earlier in the year, the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic means we can’t mark the date publicly in the way it deserves, but that does not stop us remembering it.
It all-too-often feels as though VJ Day receives far less recognition than VE Day, perhaps due to the theatre of war being so far from home. Yet, it was a part of the war which tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers–of all the many ethnicities in the Empire–lose their lives, where British colonies fell to Axis control, and where prisoners of war faced the worst treatment imaginable. Such suffering and the peace which followed certainly deserves parity of recognition.
When the New Town was built, Crawley became home to many of the heroes who served in the Far East, and to this day there are plaques in St John’s and the Memorial Gardens dedicated to those who fought in the Burma Campaign.
Of course, VJ Day follows two other dates inextricably linked the the occasion, the 75th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, events which helped bring the Second World War to a close but in doing so have left us with the ongoing threat of global nuclear conflict.
Whether or not the war could have ended without the use of atomic weapons or similarly large loss of life through conventional weapons is something historians debate to this day. Yet, at a time when Nationalistic are more common that at any time since the end of the war, both in the UK and overseas, we need to look back on these conflicts not through the rose-tinted glasses of Hollywood but as they really were. War at its heart is pain and loss, every nation emerges from it far poorer–in all respects–than when they entered, and good men and women must always be prepared to stand up to tyrants, war should never cease to be a last resort.