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About VJ Day

The Second World War finally came to an end on 15 August 1945, with Prime Minister Clement Atlee's announcement: "The last of our enemies is laid low".

King George VI addressed the nation from a balcony at Buckingham Palace and streets across the nation were filled with people singing, cheering, dancing in scenes which echoed the declaration of peace in Europe three months earlier.

Bonfires were lit, fireworks sent soaring into the sky and historic buildings floodlit as the whole country celebrated the news that their remaining troops would soon be returning home.

The turning point came when an ultimatum issued by Allied forces on 28 July was ignored. Japan's surrender was secured following two devastating atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed more than 100,000 people, and Soviet invasion of Manchuria.

Immediately operations began to repatriate some of the 130,000 Allied prisoners held by Japanese troops in POW camps across the region. The RAF parachuted in 136 teams to negotiate the release of prisoners in Operation Mastiff while Operation Birdcage saw 150 tons of leaflets dropped during 58 sorties. Food and medical supplies were also dropped.

Allied forces were deployed to the Far East when Western Allies, including the US, declared war on Japan in 1941. The move was in response to Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour and British and Dutch territories carried out as part of Japan’s war with China, which had raged since 1931.