Churches Play their Part in Celebrating VJ Day

Special services were held on Sunday and are continuing Monday across the England to commemorate VJ Day and the end of World War II.

Sixty years ago on Monday, Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending almost six years of war.

Commemorations are continuing on from the weekend, including numerous parades and services by Far East veterans, as well as a national commemoration held at the Imperial War Museum in London, attended by 1,400 servicemen and former Far East prisoners of war.

Services held at Cardiff, Newport and Porthcawl were attended by hundreds of parading veterans.

First Minister Rhodri paid respect to the men and women who fought and died in the Far East, bringing attention to a chapter in WWII he feels many overlook.

"Battles in the Far East were fought in particularly brutal and harsh circumstances," he said. "So many in the services lost their lives and British prisoners of war and our allies faced intolerable conditions. Allied civilians caught up in the conflict faced no better.

"It is important to remember those who lost their lives, and pay tribute to the veterans who are still with us today and the families of those who sadly are not."

The commemorations in Porthcawl saw around 500 veterans with 40 British Legion standard-bearers take part in a parade through the town.

Special remembrance services were also held at St John Church in Cardiff, with a drumhead service held at Tredegar House in Newport by the Gwent branch of the Royal British Legion.

A window epitaph in St John's Church commemorates the British servicemen who fell at the battle of Kohima, the turning point in the fight against the Japanese in Burma.

One veteran who attended the St John's service, Norman Davies, was a 22-year-old flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force at the time of joining the Burma campaign. He said the service offered the chance for him to remember the many friends he lost.

"I thought the service was very moving. It brought back sad and happy memories," he said. "We fought together, suffered together and laughed together."

Arabella Wagenaar, who also attended the St John's service, was taken as a prisoner of war in Singapore when she was seven and freed four years later. She said that being a Christian had taught her to forgive despite her experiences.

"Hatred doesn't hurt your enemy. It only destroys oneself and I am a Christian – Jesus said to forgive and I have," she said.

"I think we have to say, it is over, forget it, don't think about it, don't talk about it, only look ahead.

"Face the future and try and remember that every other human being on earth is a human being like you and view them as having your own feelings and fears and loves and enjoyment and I think we must do that."

London will also pay tribute to former servicemen and prisoners of war today with the opening of a memorial outside All Hallows church by the Duke of Edinburgh.

Part of the Scotland celebrations includes a short play, "Time Wives", to be shown at St Marks Church, Edinburgh, as part of the Fringe. The play, which received £1,000 funding, depicts the life on the Scottish home front as experienced by women in the 1940s