VJ Day at 75: Spitfires, Hurricanes and Red Arrows soar over Britain

15 August 2020, 11:35

The Red Arrows soared over Belfast this afternoon
The Red Arrows soared over Belfast this afternoon. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Spitfires, Hurricanes and Red Arrows have soared over Britain to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day - Japan's surrender to the Allies in 1945 which ended the Second World War.

The historic milestone is being commemorated with a series of events honouring those who fought in the Far East, beginning with a televised remembrance service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, this morning.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led a two-minute silence 11am, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reading the Exhortation, which was followed by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast over the arboretum.

Three Spitfires, a Hurricane and a Lancaster bomber roared above the ceremony as veterans watched on.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight crossed the VJ Day remembrance service in Staffordshire
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight crossed the VJ Day remembrance service in Staffordshire. Picture: PA

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows have also begun their tour of Britain to mark the occasion, the first such flight since the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

They were planned to cross all four UK capital cities, starting with Edinburgh at 11.30am, Belfast at 2pm, Cardiff at 2.45pm and London at 5.30pm.

However, the planned fly overs in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London were cancelled due to poor weather, with the Scottish leg redirected to Glasgow.

On the London leg the iconic jets will fly directly above the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home to three Burma Star recipients, with Chelsea Pensioners to gather in front of the hospital to watch.

Read more: VJ Day flypast: Where and when can I see the Red Arrows?

Read more: VJ Day 75th anniversary events: From the minute's silence to the Red Arrows flypast

Veterans watched on as the Red Arrows performed on VJ Day at 75
Veterans watched on as the Red Arrows performed on VJ Day at 75. Picture: PA

Richard Day, 93, from Boreham Wood, north London, who was involved in the decisive Battle of Kohima in north-east India, was among about 40 veterans at the arboretum ceremony.

Mr Day, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, served in the forces which relieved Kohima and Imphal and told of how he contracted malaria and dysentery at the same time, while fighting a highly determined enemy.

He said: "I think the worse part was crossing rivers at night, it was cold at night - then all night in wet clothes and wet equipment, still having to move about.

"They (the Japanese) were very determined for their emperor. It was a glory for them to die for their emperor. They didn't appear to have any fear at all."

Three Spitfires, a Hurricane and a Lancaster bomber took part
Three Spitfires, a Hurricane and a Lancaster bomber took part. Picture: PA
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight saluted veterans this morning
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight saluted veterans this morning. Picture: PA
Boris Johnson attended the remembrance service
Boris Johnson attended the remembrance service. Picture: PA
Charles and Camilla paid tribute to the fallen on VJ Day at 75
Charles and Camilla paid tribute to the fallen on VJ Day at 75. Picture: PA

In a statement, the Queen said: "Prince Philip and I join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant tributes to mark the landmark anniversary have been organised online and in television, with the Duke of Cambridge to appear on screens across the country tonight.

Developed with the Ministry of Defence and involving 300 members of Armed Forces personnel, the programme scheduled to broadcast at 8.30pm promises a host of famous faces reading tributes, military bands and dramatic visual projection, with the duke to give a special address thanking veterans and the wartime generation.

The day began with a piper playing Battle's Over at the Imperial War Museum's HMS Belfast in London at sunrise, as part of a tribute entitled Waking Up To Peace.

Military pipers also played at dawn in India, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal.Defence Secretary Ben Wallace was joined by military chiefs as he laid a wreath at the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London, on Saturday morning.

Tonight Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, will lead a pre-recorded televised tribute service.

Comments

Loading...