V-J DAY (Europe)
Also known as Victory Over Japan Day, V-J Day is held every year on August 15th in Europe to remember the day Imperial Japan surrendered in WWII. Subsequently, the surrender of Japan brought WWII to an end.
The Allies had warned Japan to surrender on July 28th, 1945 but they refused. Due to their refusal the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, thus ending the war.
The first person to break the news of Japan’s surrender was U.S. President Harry S. Truman. He made the announcement at a press conference at the White House on August 14th, 1945. At midnight the UK’s Prime Minister Clement Atlee confirmed the end of WWII. He stated, “The last of our enemies is laid low.”
In 1945, the number of British soldiers had risen to nearly 3 million. About 340,000 of these British soldiers died. An estimated 71,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth died fighting Japan. This includes more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity. The United Kingdom also endured a high number of civilian casualties, with 70,000 of them killed. Most of them died during the German bombing raids, which was known as the Blitz. Also during the Blitz, 87,000 were seriously injured, many of them women and children. Two million houses were destroyed during the Blitz as well.
The country suffered greatly during WWII. Many people in the United Kingdom and elsewhere celebrated when the war ended. However, they also grieved for the many lives that were lost. This is why this day is an important day of remembrance.
HOW TO OBSERVE #VJDay (Europe)
The United Kingdom holds several remembrance events in observance of the day. In past years, the Royal British Legions has held a commemoration ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum. The event gets broadcast on the BBC and includes testimonies of veterans and music from military musicians. Wreath-laying events are also held across the country.
You can help spread awareness for this day by sharing #VJDay or #VictoryOverJapanDay on social media.
V-J DAY HISTORY
The United Kingdom has recognized August 15th as V-J Day since 1945, when WWII ended. Other countries that celebrate V-J Day on this date include Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea, and South Korea. August 15th was the date of the official announcement that Japan surrendered. Due to time zone differences, the announcement was made in the United States and the rest of the Americas on August 14th. However, the surrender document wasn’t signed until September 2, 1945. This is why the United States celebrates National V-J Day on September 2nd.