VJ Day – The 75th Anniversary end WWII
This year / Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, a global conflict which arose as a result of the instability in Europe following the First World War. World War II began with Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 and ended on 15th August 1945 on VJ Day (Victory over Japan).
It is estimated between 50-60 million people worldwide were killed in this conflict making it more devastating than the First World War.
New Zealand played a key role in the war for the Allied forces fighting from Egypt, Greece, Italy, to the Pacific and Japan.
New Zealand suffered the highest number of casualties per head of population when compared with its other Commonwealth counterparts with almost 12,000 New Zealanders paying the ultimate price.
But the impact didn’t end there with many soldiers returning home with physical injuries and psychological trauma which would affect them and their families for the rest of their lives. Both marriages and divorces peaked in 1946 and a record number of births were recorded in the two years following 1945 as people adjusted to life post war.
News of the Japanese surrender arrived at 11am on 15th August 1945. Celebrations and a national ceremony followed and there were two days public holiday with parades, bands, dances, and various other celebrations together with much confetti scattering. Whilst there was jubilation in the streets there was also mixed feelings at the cost.
Join us today in remembering the sacrifice and reflecting on how this conflict impacted and helped shape our nation.
Timeline of some of the key battles
10 April 1941 Greece
20 May 1941 Crete
19 November 1941 Sidi Rezegh
14 July 1942 Ruweisat Ridge
23 October 1942 El Alamein
21 March 1943 Tebaga Gap
7 December 1943 Orsonga
27 February 1944 South Pacific (1942-44) Capture of Green Island
15 March 1944 Cassino