Chelsea Pensioners represented the veteran community at national Victory over Japan Day 70th anniversary commemorations on 15th August.
The commemorations, organised by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion, took place in Central London with HRH The Queen in attendance along with other members of the Royal Family.
There was a march past the Cenotaph and a Remembrance Service at Westminster Abbey to pay tribute to all those who played a part in securing the end of the war in the Pacific in August 1945.
Attending the service at Westminster Abbey was Chelsea Pensioner Douglas Hassall (97), who was a Prisoner of War captured by the Japanese Army in February 1941. He initially worked on the searchlights but then got sent to Singapore. He was a Prisoner of War for three and a half years working at the docks in Saigon.
He remembers VJ Day vividly as the American Forces dropped leaflets over their camps to let them know the war had ended. He said: “We had an idea that it might be over about a week before; the Japanese were preparing to shoot us. We were starting to dig our own graves. They dropped the second bomb and the Japanese Commander, wisely, had a change of heart. I was quite fortunate as a Japanese Prisoner of War, I was with my friends. We were all in there together which made it easier.”
“I have made my peace with the Japanese I believe in forgiving and forgetting.”
Colonel Rupert Lucas, Captain of Invalids at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, said: “It is an honour to be taking part in the parade alongside veterans, civilians and former Prisoners of War. Both my grandfathers’ fought in Burma and so it means a great deal to me to be here today. The veterans who served in the Far East were still fighting for three months after Victory in Europe Day was celebrated. These veterans have often been overlooked and fought bravely under horrifically challenging circumstances. These national commemorations give us the rare opportunity to honour the men and women who continued to fight to bring the Second World War to an end.”
For more information on Chelsea Pensioners who fought in World War Two please click here.
First soldier to receive VC from Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully on 20th June at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, surrounded by his family.
The Chelsea Pensioners and Royal Hospital staff enjoyed another fantastic year of Live at Chelsea including headline performances by Kaiser Chiefs & James Blunt.