Wartime Allies Honor VJ-Day Veterans on 75th Anniversary

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Wartime allies Britain and Canada both paid tribute on Saturday to veterans of the multinational World War II campaign against Japan, which officially ended 75 years ago about three months later. defeat it from Nazi Germany in Europe.In an open letter for the anniversary of VJ-Day (Victory over Japan) published on Saturday and addressed to “veterans of the Far East campaign”, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the courage of those who fought in Asia and the Pacific.

The six-year campaign claimed the lives of some 50,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers, nearly half of whom perished in brutal prison camps.

“You were the last to return home, but your accomplishments are inscribed in the lights of the glittering capitals of the vibrant region we see today,” Johnson said.

After the surrender of the Nazis on May 8, 1945, Victory Day, Allied troops continued to fight the Japanese until an armistice was declared on August 15, 1945. Japan officially surrendered on September 2, 1945 , but many Pacific War veterans felt their efforts were not fully recognized and called themselves “the forgotten army.”

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, speak with Johnson and Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace during a memorial service marking the 75th anniversary of VJ-Day at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, England on Saturday. (Peter Byrne / WPA Pool / Getty Images)

“We stop to pay tribute to the more than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served in World War II, including those who aided our allies in the war in Asia and the Pacific,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement released on Saturday.

“More than 10,000 Canadian servicemen fought bravely in Asia, and tens of thousands more volunteered to join forces in the Pacific in the latest Allied push to victory. These plans were never implemented. Instead, the world has been rocked by mass destruction. caused by atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945 effectively ended World War II.

Trudeau also said the anniversary was the time to recognize a “shameful episode” in Canadian history: the internment of Japanese Canadians after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“More than 20,000 Canadian citizens and residents have been separated from their homes and families, forced to end up in internment camps. Today we remind ourselves of the need to always fight against the spread of intolerance and racism, where and when they occur, ”he said.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay was in Halifax on Saturday to lay a wreath at a ceremony to mark the anniversary and congratulate those who fought.

“It doesn’t matter if they served on the home front or if they loaded the beaches on D-Day; whether they dodged boats on a convoy across the Atlantic or took off in North Africa; or if they survived the most terrible. the circumstances you can imagine in a POW camp, ”MacAulay said.

“They take pride in their service. They often say they did it for us, for the world that we can enjoy today. “

Johnson honors the ‘formidable’ 14th Army

Britain, which had been a colonial power in much of the region, arguably suffered its greatest military defeat by Japanese forces in the early years of World War II. The overwhelmed troops had to withdraw from Malaysia, Singapore and Burma under some of the most inhospitable conditions imaginable.

“These beatings were so violent that many feared it would break your will to continue,” Johnson said in his tribute letter. “But you survived the longest retreat in British history, traveling nearly 1,000 miles from Burma to India, then regrouped and reformed. ”

The British Prime Minister also highlighted the creation of the “formidable” 14th Army, a fighting force made up of nearly a million troops, including from India and Africa, which has helped “transform defeat in victory ”.

Queen Elizabeth paid her own tribute, sending a message in which she congratulated the Allied troops for their sacrifice during the war. She said she offered her “grateful thanks to the men and women across the Commonwealth and allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.”

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