VJ 75 Celebration 

Obviously, HMS Leigh is a project based around Victory in Europe Day and we are proud to be commemorating this important date in World War 2 on Southend Pier.  However, thanks to the extension of the project into 2021 our team has been able to listen and learn more.  One of the messages that we have received from the many kind people who have shared memories of WW2 and that the we think is essential to address is the importance of Victory over Japan Day. 

VE Day was a huge relief, a great release for people who had been fighting for their very survival, but it was not the end of the war or the fighting.  Victory over Japan Day (V-J Day) is the day on which Imperial Japan finally surrendered in WW2.  We have been told stories of women who wept on VE Day as they waved goodbye to their loved ones to go to war in the Pacific.  It is hard not to realise that history about real people is never simple or straightforward.

VE Day was critical for marking the end of the war in Europe in May 1945, but the war continued to be bitterly fought in the Far East.  Victory over Japan would come at a huge cost and the term is applied to both of the days on which the initial announcement of the Japan’s surrender was made – August 15th, 1945 in Japan and because of time zone differences August 14th in the US and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands.

The date when the surrender document was signed on September 2, 1945 which is the official end of WW2.  In the UK, August 15th is the official VJ Day commemoration, while the official US commemoration is September 2nd.  On September 2nd 1945 a formal surrender ceremony was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan aboard the USS Missouri.  The Japanese mark this as their memorial day for the end of World War 2.

When did the war end? By Luke Luka and Charlie

VE and VJ Day Interview Fred Feather

Having lived through 6 years of war, the children of Leigh-on-Sea Old Town were photographed here on the eve of the final day of the war. This shot from the Leigh Society shows the boys and girls of Old Leigh in best clothes on the evening of the 14th August 1945, the next day would be Victory Over Japan Day. Were you in this photograph? Or do you know anyone who was? We would love to hear from you at stories@hmsleigh.org.uk or Click the button to get to our story call form.

In 1945 most people in Britain would have used up all of their spare rations and party resources on their VE-Dy Street Party on the 8th May 1945, but some communities did celebrate the end of the war on Victory Over Japan Day, the 15th August. This photograph was taken in Leighville Grove, Leigh-on-Sea on the 15th August 1945 and shows local children dressed in their Sunday Best, with a few party hats and mostly flowers rather than food decorating the table. Many thanks to the Leigh Society for allowing us to share this image. http://www.leighsociety.com/

A recollection of an incident in Southend on V.J. Evening

“I was on holiday in Southend with my parents. I was 17 years old but can remember what happened as if was yesterday. We had been out most of the day and everywhere we went we met people who were very happy and friendly. After our meal at 6 P.M we decided to go out again and this time we made our way to the Pier. On the road outside the Pier entrance a big bonfire had been made. It was alight and getting quite big and people were dancing and singing and generally getting very excited and we joined in the fun.

Eventually the fire was getting low and fuel was getting scarce. All of a sudden someone arrived with some chairs and threw them on the bonfire. After a while we realized where this furniture was coming from, as more kept arriving. People were breaking into the flats above the shops which had been left empty during the war but the furniture was still in them. By this time everyone was so excited that I remember my mum saying why aren’t the police doing something about it, as there were some there, and my dad said that he thought that there would be a riot if the police interfered.

The furniture was being thrown out of windows and breaking on impact on reaching the ground. I can remember a lot of the furniture looked very nice. By this time my dad thought it better to move away in case the situation turned ugly so I did not see the end of this incident much to my disgust at the time.

I have often wondered over the years what the people did when they came back to their flats to find most of their furniture missing.

Little Did I know that on the 50th anniversary of this incident I would be living near the area.” Helen Forrester, Tiptree, Essex.

This is how Southend celebrated V.J Day in 1945, how are you celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War 2?

Main image courtesy of Dean Trotter

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