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Royal Navy Prepares for the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

hms prince of wales
Admiral Sir Bruce Fraser signs the Japanese surrender document for Great Britain on board USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945 (Royal Navy)

By Royal Navy News 08-14-2020 10:44:29

The new Royal Navy carrier HMS Prince of Wales will help lead the UK's national commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of victory over Japan.

The previous HMS Prince of Wales was among the war’s first victims, sunk on December 10, 1941 as she and battle-cruiser HMS Repulse attempted to stop Japanese landings on the Malay peninsula. They were pounced upon by enemy bombers, and without air cover the two capital ships succumbed to the aerial assault in under 90 minutes, taking 840 men with them.

Prince of Wales and Repulse under attack by Japanese bombers

The crew of the new carrier will represent the Navy at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, alongside veterans, families and descendants of those who strove to put an end to Japanese militarism. As with VE Day commemorations earlier in the year, plans have been scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the public will not be able to attend the principal event at the arboretum. However, it will still be broadcast by the BBC.

Commemorations will begin Saturday at 0600 with performance by pipers around the world, including aboard the museum ship HMS Belfast (which was due to take part in operations against Japan in 1945 only for Tokyo to surrender), followed by a wreath laying at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

Mid-morning, the focus shifts to the arboretum where the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall will be guests of honor, joining veterans such as former HMS Indefatigable crewman Albert ‘Les’ Wills, families and military personnel from units associated with the war against Japan.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will perform a flypast over the ceremony. Eyes will remain fixed on the skies for much of the day as the Royal Air Force's aerobatic team stages a four-hour-long flyby over the four capitals of the UK, ending over the Royal Hospital Chelsea around 1730 hours.

Kamikaze attack on HMS Formidable, May 1945

In the UK, the war in the Far East is generally overshadowed by the conflict against Nazi Germany in Europe, North Africa and the Atlantic. It nevertheless accounted for 71,000 of the Commonwealth’s war dead, 12,000 of them casualties of Japanese prison camps.

By the beginning of 1945, the Royal Navy had massed the greatest force in its history, the British Pacific Fleet (also known as "The Forgotten Fleet") for the final onslaught against the heart of the Japanese empire: four battleships, over 20 carriers, 11 cruisers, 35 destroyers, 31 submarines, more than a dozen frigates and scores of minesweepers, sloops, auxiliaries and escorts.

This story appears courtesy of Royal Navy News and may be found in its original form here.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.