VJ Day 70th anniversary: War planes to fly over London as part of national commemoration

Veterans of the Far East campaign will take part in events in the capital

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The Independent Online

Second World War planes will fly over central London on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of VJ Day, with commemoration events across the country.

The Queen, other members of the Royal Family and David Cameron will the join events in London, with hundreds of veterans of the Far East campaign expected to take part. Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prime Minister will attend a service at St Martin-in-the-Fields church alongside veterans and former prisoners of war at 11am.

Veterans, civilian internees, and their families and descendants will be invited to Horse Guards Parade to take part in an event supported by military bands and soldiers. The Government event will begin with a flypast of four historic aircraft: a Spitfire, a Hurricane, a Dakota and a Royal Navy Swordfish. They will fly with a current RAF Typhoon.

There will also be a wreath-laying, and actor Charles Dance will read Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Mandalay”.

Big screens will be put up in and around Whitehall for the public to see the VJ Day veterans’ ceremony and then a parade, as they head to a reception at Westminster Abbey.

David Murray, chief executive of the UK’s oldest military charity SSAFA, said: “VJ Day marks one of the most significant moments in our military history.”

The event will be shown on a big screen in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square, where there will also be a service. In Staffordshire a service and wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the National Memorial Arboretum, while Lichfield Cathedral will hold a thanksgiving service. Other commemoration events will be held in Essex, Derbyshire and Sussex.

The Japanese surrendered on 14 August 1945 after atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The following day was celebrated as Victory over Japan Day. Nearly 30,000 British soldiers died in the Far East campaign, 12,500 of whom were prisoners of war.

The charity Children of Far East Prisoners of War said membership has risen by 10 per cent in the run up to the VJ Day commemorations, as more relatives of those imprisoned during the war join to honour their relatives.