Date issued: 15 August 2020
Standing separate but together, Essex’s civic and military dignitaries marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War.
Fighting in the Far East against Japanese forces continued after the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8th May 1945, and Victory over Japan Day on 15th August 1945 marked the end of the war. To commemorate the suffering and sacrifice of all who served and celebrate the ultimate victory, a socially distanced ceremony was held at Merville Barracks in Colchester today (Sat 15 Aug).
The Lord-Lieutenant of Essex Jennifer Tolhurst, Her Majesty The Queen’s representative in the county; Chair of Essex County Council Cllr John Jowers; The Mayor of Colchester Cllr Nick Cope; and the Bishop of Colchester The Right Reverend Roger Morris joined senior officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade and Colchester Garrison for the service. Representatives of Colchester’s Sikh and Nepali community reflected the vital contribution to victory made by soldiers from the Commonwealth and our allies.
After observing the two-minute national silence at 11am, wreaths were laid at the barrack’s Dakota aircraft.
For Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade, the involvement of airborne soldiers serving in the British Indian Army was particularly remembered. The actions of 44th (Indian) Airborne Division during the Burma campaign helped to set the standard of bravery and commitment expected of today’s airborne soldiers, with both serving under the same Pegasus emblem.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Caldwell said: “VJ Day marked the final end of the Second World War and it is important to bring Essex’s military and civilian communities together to mark the 75th anniversary. The war in the Far East was a long way from home, unlike the fighting in Europe, and is often overlooked. Soldiers, sailors and airmen from Britain, the Commonwealth and our allies fought bravely in a tough environment against a committed enemy to achieve the ultimate victory. We remember the shared endeavour and sacrifices, celebrate the hard-fought victory, and draw inspiration as we face up to current challenges.”
Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, said: On behalf of the people of Colchester, I would like to pay tribute to the two-and-a-half million brave members of the armed forces who served in the Far East during the dark years of the Second World War.
“The campaigns fought in Asia were the longest of the war and those involved – on both sides – saw arguably the most severe deprivation and hardship.
“Our forces have been referred to as the forgotten army. Well, today, on this 75th Anniversary, they are not forgotten. We remember them all, give thanks for their bravery and sacrifice, and will ensure the memory of their contribution lives on.”