Tributes paid to veterans on 75th anniversary of VJ Day

The Queen has led the UK’s commemorations on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, paying tribute to those ‘who fought so valiantly’ to end World War Two.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh – himself a WW2 veteran – remembered the ‘jubilant scenes’ and ‘overwhelming sense of relief’ when Japan surrendered to Allied forces on August 15, 1945.

VJ Day, or Victory over Japan Day, ended WW2 and a terrible chapter in British military history, during which tens of thousands of servicemen were held captive in prisoner of war camps, many of whom died there.

In a statement, the Queen paid tribute to bravery and sacrifice of Allied soldiers over the world: ‘Those of us who remember the conclusion of the Far East campaign, whether on active service overseas, or waiting for news at home, will never forget the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief.

‘Amongst the joy at the end of the conflict, we also remembered, as we do today, the terrible devastation that it brought, and the cost borne by so many.

‘Prince Philip and I join so many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.’

In Friendship of Nations video with other world leaders, Boris Johnson remembered the ‘immeasurable sacrifice’ of the ‘heroes’ who fought in Asia.

He said: ‘Unable to celebrate the victory in Europe, and among the last to return home, today we recognise the bravery and ingenuity of those who, in the face of adversity, restored peace and prosperity to the world.

‘Their immeasurable sacrifice changed the course of history and at today’s commemorations, we take the opportunity to say what should be said every day – thank you.’

In a letter to veterans, the PM wrote: ‘You were the last to come home but your achievements are written in the lights of the glittering capitals of the dynamic region we see today.’

As guns were laid down in Europe, British and Commonwealth soldiers were still fighting in the Far East, of which there were an estimated 71,000 casualties of the war against Japan. More than 12,000 soldiers died in prisoner of war camps.

The war was brought to a swift end when the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan on August 6 and August 9.

Japan surrounded six days later.

Dawn services were held around the world this morning, including India, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal.

In the UK, the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall led a two-minute silence at 11am.

Prince Philip will feature alongside other veterans on large screens across the UK, including the Piccadilly Curve.

Red Arrow aerial tributes will be held in Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London.

Finally, the Duke of Cambridge will honour veterans ahead of a special programme, called VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, which will be broadcast on the BBC at 8.30pm tonight.

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