On Saturday 15th August 2020, Bridport commemorated the 75th anniversary of VJ day (Victory over Japan) and the end of the Second World War by the following ……….
Flying the Union Flag on the Town Hall and the Town Council’s Mountfield office and flying commemorative bunting across the town centre streets,
An address by the Mayor of Bridport was published online on the morning of 15 August on the Town Council’s website and can be viewed below.
A video tribute produced by Rev Pete Stone of Bridport Team Ministry was published online on the morning of 15 August on the Town Council’s website and can be viewed below.
The Town Crier, John Collingwood, made a proclamation in Bucky Doo Square just before 11am.
The West Bay Discovery Centre has published some images showing the VJ celebrations for the children in West Bay in 1945 on social media and the pictures are also available to view at the Discovery Centre.
An interview with the Mayor about VJ Day in Bridport was broadcast on Wessex FM.
A socially distanced gathering of invited dignitaries and veterans took place at 4pm, for the laying of wreaths and the Act of Remembrance beside the Burma Star Memorial at St Mary’s Church.
VJ Day marks both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War. The years of carnage and destruction had come to an end and people once again took to the streets to celebrate peace, mourn their loved ones and to hope for the future.
Fighting in the Asia-Pacific region took place from Hawaii to North East India. Britain and the Commonwealth’s principle fighting force, the Fourteenth Army, was one of the most diverse in history – more than 40 languages were spoken, and all the world’s major religions were represented.
Here are three examples from Bridport of those who served on that front:
Joseph William Henry Silvester – who lived in South Street, fought as a ‘chindit‘ in the Burma campaign and is commemorated at Taukkyan War memorial for soldiers who died.
David William John Llewelyn Loving – who served as an Electrical Artificer on HMS Repulse. He was killed in action and is commemorated in Kranji cemetery Singapore.
Frederick John Fooks – who lived in East Street, served as a Sapper with the Royal Engineers. He was among the 50,000 allied troops captured by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore. He is buried in the Commonwealth War graves cemetery in Yokohama.
As a town we had planned to come together to celebrate this historic moment, and to remember the lives lost in battle on the Asia-Pacific front. Sadly the situation we now find ourselves in means the events that had been planned, could not take place. I hope everyone reading this will take a few moments to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through that dark and terrifying period. This is also an opportunity to look back on the great celebrations of 75 years ago, and to remind ourselves that Bridport will, in time, emerge from the current crisis and celebrate the end of another battle, one of a very different kind.
I am hesitant about making too many very direct comparisons between the nation’s experiences of the war, and the situation we now find ourselves in with the Coronavirus outbreak. What I would say, however, is that we can be proud that as a community we are showing that we still stand strong in the face of a crisis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who are supporting the most vulnerable in Bridport – our NHS and other key workers, volunteers, community groups, local businesses and good neighbours. The response has been extraordinary and heart-warming.