Chairman urges county residents to commemorate ‘forgotten war’

This story was published 10 August 2020

People across North Yorkshire are being encouraged to remember the sacrifices of many armed services personnel and civilians as the country commemorates the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, Victory in Japan Day and the end of the Second World War.

Cllr Jim Clark

North Yorkshire County Council chairman Cllr Jim Clark asks people to take time on Saturday, 15 August, to remember the events of 75 years ago in whatever way they feel appropriate. He recognises that over the years VJ Day has not had the resonance of VE Day, Victory in Europe Day, in May.

“I have often wondered why we have not celebrated VJ Day as enthusiastically as VE Day, considering it was the end of World War II,” he said.

“Perhaps it is that so many people were so relieved that the war in Europe was over they just wanted to look forward to a better future and tended to overlook the continuing hellish war in Asia and the Far East against Japan and how many servicemen were fighting on to victory and to win us the freedoms we enjoy today.

“Over the years, many relatives of those who were still fighting told me how upset and hurt they were that their loved ones were still fighting in dreadful conditions until August in what was a largely forgotten war.

“It may be because the fighting came to an end shortly after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and people were unsure how to react to the use of this terrible new weapon.”

The fact that VJ Day falls in the middle of the holiday season could also have made it difficult get people together as many were on vacation and schools were closed.

Cllr Clark said: “Whatever the reason for perhaps not marking it in the past, for this 75th anniversary I would like each and every one of us to take time to remember the events of 75 years ago in whatever way you feel appropriate.

“Remember all the brave service men and women who made great sacrifices, some the ultimate sacrifice, including those of our great county, so that we enjoy the freedoms we value so much today. Remember also the large number of innocent civilians, including many children, who died because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Finally, I would like to thank all of you who have gone the extra mile over the last few months, both paid staff and volunteers. It has been North Yorkshire communities at their best and once again I invite you to stand together in remembrance and thanksgiving; against hate and prejudice; and to build stronger communities.

“This will allow us all to face an uncertain future with hope and confidence.”

Nationally, the Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, will lead a two-minute silence to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire as part of a televised service at 11am on 15 August.

The Duke of Cambridge will feature in VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, a programme that will be broadcast on BBC One, and the Duke of Edinburgh, who was present on board HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese surrender, will feature on large screens in locations across the country in a photo montage showcasing living Second World War veterans. The Red Arrows will conduct a UK-wide flypast tribute over Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London.

Meanwhile, Cllr Clark is determined that events that he had been involved in to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May this year will go ahead next year.

He said: “I spent many hours with many of you preparing for concerts and events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Many of these had to cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions, which was a great disappointment to so many.

“On the day I was able to participate in a virtual Ripon Cathedral service which was led by the Dean of Ripon, the Archbishop of York and the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire and certainly helped to make up for not being able to have the planned service.

“I hope many of the events that were postponed in May due the virus will now take place next year.”