Poll suggests almost half of British public do not know about VJ Day

Poll suggests almost half of British public do not know about VJ Day
Events for the 75th anniversary of VJ Day include a remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England, a national two-minute silence, and a Red Arrows flypast.Picture: PA

Nearly half of the British public do not know what Victory in Japan (VJ) Day is,  according to the findings of a poll taken shortly before its 75th anniversary.

On Saturday, Britain will pay tribute to the sacrifices made by those who fought in the Far East to bring about the end of the Second World War.

The conflict against Japan endured three months beyond Victory in Europe (VE) Day on May 8 1945, with brutal fighting only ending with the Japanese surrender on August 15.

But a survey of 2,020 Britons aged over 16 from SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, carried out between July 27 and 29, found that 46% did not know what the VJ acronym stands for.

Of these, just 5% said they would celebrate it every year after discovering what the day marked, the survey found.

Meanwhile, more than half (52%) of those unaware of the significance of the day said they were not likely to do or feel anything towards the anniversary after finding out what it stood for.

SSAFA suggested the findings pointed to VJ Day “slowly being erased from British history”.

It highlighted that due to the earlier conclusion of war in Europe, some veterans returning from the Far East have referred to themselves as the “forgotten army”.

This year’s VJ Day commemorations have had to be adapted to accommodate restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The royal family are due to play a role in events planned on Saturday.

This includes a service of thanksgiving and remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, England, a national two-minute silence, and a Red Arrows flypast.

Gary Coward, chairman of SSAFA, said: “We should all be aware of our national history, especially when associated with an unrelenting campaign and huge sacrifice. VJ Day marks such an event.”

He added: “Many people celebrate Victory in Europe Day, but very few acknowledge or know about Victory over Japan Day.

Thousands of Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen remained incarcerated in horrendous conditions and their many colleagues continued to fight bitter battles for freedom in the Far East well after VE Day.

“Without their supreme sacrifice, life would be very different to what it is now.

“On this 75th anniversary, we ought to take a moment to reflect on this and try to learn the lessons of this key moment in history.

“The huge losses on all sides must not be forgotten.”

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