West Cheshire pays its respects on 75th anniversary of VJ Day

18 August 2020

Residents in west Cheshire marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War on Saturday, 15 August, the anniversary of Japan's surrender to the Allied Forces.

A small service held at Chester Cathedral with 30 invited guests was broadcast live on the internet to give residents the chance to watch it.

Local dignitaries also laid wreaths at the Cathedral War Memorial in remembrance of the thousands of men and women who lost their lives during the Second World War.

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Mark Williams, laid a posy of red, white and blue flowers in honour of all the civilians who lost their lives in the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Act of Remembrance and the two minutes silence took place in the Cathedral Gardens and the speeches were broadcast on loudspeakers for members of the public to hear.

Because of COVID-19, the normal footprint for such a commemoration event had to be changed but the Lord Mayor of Chester and the Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council were still keen to commemorate the anniversary and to give residents chance get involved.

Cllr Williams, the Lord Mayor of Chester, said: "As the sun rose over Chester 75 years after victory in Japan was declared, I was joined outside Chester Town Hall by Alan Gagan, north west bagpiper, who played Battle's O'er.

"It was hoped that large gatherings, military parades and events could have taken place to mark the anniversary but sadly, because of COVID-19 and the current restrictions, we had to have more low-key events and move many of our events online.

"As this anniversary was likely to be the last time that we could come together on a significant anniversary to say our collective thank you to the surviving veterans, I was keen that west Cheshire residents still had opportunities to remember all those who served and gave their lives in the Second World War. I was also particularly keen to also remember all the civilians who also lost their lives."

Before VJ Day, Cllr Williams and Cllr Bob Rudd, the Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council, commissioned two videos to help residents commemorate VJ Day and remember all those involved or impacted by the war in the Far East.

The first is a virtual service in which participants reflect on the significance of the ending of the Second World War and the historic pen linking Chester to the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.

The second shows the pen, which is housed at Chester Military Museum and is one of those used on 2 September 1945 in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan. Representatives of the Japanese government signed the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending the Second World War.

Cllr Rudd, Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: "The virtual services which were commissioned and Chester Cathedral filming and broadcasting the service live on the internet gave residents several opportunities to themselves honour those brave service men and women who kept fighting after VE Day had been declared, in order to win the campaigns in the Far East and finally bring the war to an end.

"Although Victory in Europe was a jubilant event, tens of thousands of British troops continued to fight for another three months, before the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki hastened the Japanese to surrender.

"Often the troops involved in the Far East campaigns feel overlooked, however in west Cheshire we did our best to ensure that they are not the forgotten army." VJ Day 2020

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