Saturday (August 15) marks Victory in the Pacific day – the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Also known as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, it commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender on August 14, meaning the Second World War was finally over following Germany’s unconditional surrender months earlier.
While the day in 1945 was celebrated, it was overshadowed by an enormous sense of loss.
Our services fought in campaigns against Germany and Italy in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa, as well as against Japan in south-east Asia and other parts of the Pacific. The Australian mainland came under direct attack for the first time, as Japanese aircraft bombed towns in north-west Australia and Japanese midget submarines attacked Sydney Harbour.
Just on one million Australians served during the Second World War with over 39,000 making the ultimate sacrifice. The country’s population at the time was only seven million.
Approximately 29,000 Australians were taken prisoners of war. Only 14,000 of the 21,467 Australian prisoners taken by the Japanese survived.
More than 12,000 veterans of the Second World War are still with us today. I urge Victorians to take a moment on Saturday to reflect and say thanks for your service to both those remaining and those who have passed.