On May 8, around the country, as usual and very properly, we remember VE Day. But what about VJ Day on 15 August? This was the true end of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of our troops had fought and many had died in one of the bitterest and most inhospitable theatres of the war. The words of remembrance that are now used at most remembrance ceremonies come from that theatre. “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today” is the inscription on the memorial of the unbelievably grim but crucial Battle of Kohima.
In Winchelsea nothing is planned for VJ Day. And that will be true of most towns and villages. What is odd is that most street parties in 1945 took place on VJ Day, as people knew it was coming, whereas VE Day was a bit of a surprise and there was little time for organising celebrations.
But now we just pass over this key event in our national calendar. I hesitate to use the word “disgrace” but I am very perplexed. The Forgotten Fourteenth Army, it seems, is still forgotten. Yet many people, including me, have relatives who fought in the Far East. And Winchelsea lost one of its sons out there, Harry Willeard, who went missing on patrol in the Burmese jungle in May 1943.
So, let’s pay our respects. Leave a wreath. Light a candle. Say a prayer. But let’s not forget.
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