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Royal British Legion marks VJ Day 75th anniversary in Bishop's Stortford

Commemoration of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day on Saturday was a subdued and sombre occasion in Bishop’s Stortford.

The town’s branch of the Royal British Legion cancelled a public tribute to service personnel who fought in the Far East and organised a private, socially distanced ceremony at the war memorial in Castle Gardens instead.

Chairman Denise Hudson explained: “Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, it was by invitation only and was not publicised.”

Peter Cullen and wife Jean (40690632)
Peter Cullen and wife Jean (40690632)

The 25 who attended the 75th anniversary on Saturday included armed forces veteran Peter Cullen and his wife Jean. Peter's father served in Burma during the Second World War.

The short service was led by Stortford RBL branch president John Robinson. Standards were lowered during a two-minute silence at 11am by bearers Arthur King, for the branch, and Alison Mitchell, for the women’s section.

Mr Robinson ended by reading the Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

VJ Day commemoration (40690634)
VJ Day commemoration (40690634)

The 11-week Battle of Kohima in north-east India in 1944 was the turning point of the Second World War in the Far East. Often referred to as the "Stalingrad of the East", it forced the Japanese to retreat, and ended on June 22 when British and Indian troops from Kohima and Imphal met at Milestone 109, ending a terrible siege.

After tributes were laid on the memorial, town crier Carole Williams brought proceedings to a close with the VJ 75 Peace Cry.

Victory in Europe

Was on the eighth day of May

Now it’s August fifteenth,

So what of this day?

Japan’s now surrendered,

And told to “lay down its arms.

Go back to your factories,

Offices, and farms.”

But in Singapore, Thailand

And Burma, no less

Our ‘forgotten army’

Still had to clear up the mess

We mustn’t forget

The war in the Far East,

Or the lives which were lost,

Before the battles were ceased.

Three-quarters of a century

Have passed since those days

And life has moved on,

In so many ways.

So August fifteenth

Became a day of celebration

As Japan agreed

To the Potsdam Declaration.

and on September second,

At last, it was done.

The world war was over,

The battle’s been won.

VJ Day,

Is a day to be cherished

When we remember

All those who have perished

Stand proudly my country,

Stand proudly with Britain

Dwell on this cry,

So proudly written

This kingdom never gave up, and it must never forget!

God save the Queen.

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