West Cheshire commemorates Victory in Japan with a two minute silence

10 August 2020

To mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day on 15 August Chester Town Hall will once again be lit red, white and blue and decorated with union flags. There will be a two minute silence led by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Mark Williams at 11am.

VJ Day marks both the surrender of Japan and the end of the Second World War. The day will start at 6am with a lone piper playing Battle's O'er from Chester Cathedral that will be live streamed on the Lord Mayor’s Facebook page.

The Lord Mayor, military colleagues and local people have come together to record a virtual service that will be shared at 10am. Participants will reflect on the significance of the ending of the Second World War and the historic pen linking Chester to the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.

Chester Military Museum holds one of the pens used at the Japanese surrender. On September 2, 1945, in a formal ceremony aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, Japan, representatives of the Japanese government signed the Instrument of Surrender, officially ending World War II.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander in the Southwest Pacific, signed for the United States and accepted the surrender in his capacity as the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers. 

The pen was gifted by General MacArthur to Lt General Arthur Percival, a former forces commander. Lt General Percival was in charge of forces in Malaysia and was held in a Japanese prisoner of war camp after it fell to the Japanese in 1942. After Japan’s surrender, MacArthur secured Percival’s release and brought him on board the USS Missouri to witness the Japanese signing the surrender. MacArthur then presented the pen to Percival. He, in turn, donated it to the Cheshire Regiment before his death in 1966. 

There will be a ticketed service held at Chester Cathedral, due to limited numbers permitted in the Cathedral the service will be live streamed at 10.30am on Chester Cathedral’s YouTube channel, followed by an Act of Remembrance at 10.55am and The Last Post played followed by the two minute’s silence at 11am.  The two-minute silence will be ended with playing of Reveille. 

The Lord Mayor of Chester, Councillor Mark Williams said: “Once again our plans have been changed due to Coronavirus but the Internet will provide the means to share our commemoration services. Please join me virtually to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day
“We will remember the contribution of all Commonwealth and Allied Forces, without whom victory and the freedoms and the way of life we enjoy today would not have been possible.  We will also remember those who sadly lost their lives as a result of the attacks."

Councillor Bob Rudd, Chairman of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Whilst we must remember and commemorate those who were gravely wounded or died during years of war, the 75th Anniversary of victory in Japan is also an opportunity to celebrate the peace that came to us all at the end of World War II.  Veterans and families involved with the battles in Asia have always felt they were the 'forgotten army' so here in Cheshire West we have arranged that a virtual civic service and a physical one takes place so we can let them know,  that they are not and never will be forgotten.

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