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VJ Day 75 plans for Swaffham

Plans are in place to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) in Swaffham this weekend.

Barrie Thorp, chairman of the Swaffham branch of the Royal British Legion will be meeting the mayor Jill Skinner to lay a wreath on behalf of the town at the war memorial on Saturday morning.

A two minute silence will also be observed at the memorial at 11am with social distancing in place.

The Town Crier will deliver a special VJ Day Cry at Swaffham's Buttercross on Saturday
The Town Crier will deliver a special VJ Day Cry at Swaffham's Buttercross on Saturday

Mr Thorp said: “I feel it’s important for it to be marked in the town. I understand from Legion reunions that they do not keep it official beyond 75 years simply because of the age of people taking part.”

Just like the celebrations for Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) in May, households will be encouraged to have a street party from the safety of their gardens.

Mr Thorp said the event has not had much publicity on the orders of the Royal British legion due to the coronavirus.

VJ Day 2020. Picture: IWM
VJ Day 2020. Picture: IWM

He added: “On the Saturday, there will be people around who may have a look at what is happening but we have not publicised it due to social distancing.”

The town council's commemoration plans start at 11am on Saturday in which an auction bell will announce the start of a two minute silence.

After the silence, the Town Crier will deliver a special VJ Day Cry at the Buttercross in the Market Place at 11.05am.

Following this, the mayor and Mr Thorp will walk to the war memorial to lay the wreath beside the Far East Prisoners of War plaque.

A town councillor added: “The arrangements, which I have heard will include a memorial tree planting and a memorial seat, which are being dealt with by the markets committee.”

The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Edinburgh and Duke of Cambridge will lead the nation's commemorations marking 75 years since the end of the Second World War on Saturday.

The Prince of Wales, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, will lead the UK in a national moment of remembrance and thanksgiving for all those who served in the Far East. The Duchess will lead a two minute silence at 11am at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire as part of a special televised service.

A number of veterans, including 93 year-old Albert Wills who served in the Royal Navy aboard HMS Indefatigable, will be present at the service to pay their respects to their fallen comrades and will represent the surviving veterans of the war in the Far East still alive in the UK today.

Music at the service will be provided by the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment, and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will take part in a flypast following the two minute silence.

The Duke of Cambridge will feature in ‘VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute,’ a special programme filmed at Horse Guards Parade that will be broadcast on BBC One. Alongside veteran testimony, the Duke will honour and give thanks to all those who sacrificed so much during the Second World War.

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 poignant photo montage showcasing living Second World War veterans.

The Red Arrows will also conduct a UK wide flypast tribute over Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and London with its path including the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home to three Burma Star recipients.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: "We must never forget the bravery and sacrifice of our greatest generation. On August 15 we will come together as a nation to remember, give thanks and pay tribute to the endurance of those who served around the world and finally secured peace for us. These commemorations will inspire a new generation to learn about them and ensure their stories of heroism and sacrifice live on.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace added: "VJ Day is sometimes seen as the forgotten victory, but this year, on its 75th anniversary, our celebrations are rightly focused on paying special tribute to the Greatest Generation and their service and sacrifice in the Far East. I will be thinking of the unique hardships faced by those who served, and thanking them for all they did for us.

"The partnerships forged during the Far East campaign continue to thrive today. It’s a unique honour for me as defence secretary to meet Second World War veterans in person at important commemorations such as these. As a former army officer, I understand just how much today’s troops are inspired by those who came before them.

"I am proud we have put together such a full programme of events and look forward to paying tribute to our amazing Asia pacific war veterans."

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