As VJ Day 75th anniversary takes place in Southport it's time to recognise the courage and sacrifice of those who served

Southport author Jacquelyn Frith (lerft) and Far East POW Jack Frith (right)
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Damien Moore MP is urging people to join in the 75th anniversary celebrations of VJ Day, which marks the end of the Second World War. 

VE Day - Victory In Europe Day - was widely celebrated in May, 75 years after the Allies defeated Adolf Hitler and his Nazi troops. The Holocaust alone saw over six million people murdered. 

While Hitler’s downfall was rightly a cause for celebration on 8 May, 1945, many more people would fight and die in brutal conditions in the Far East, with defeat for Emperor Hirohito and his Japanese armies not coming until three months later, on 15 August 1945. 

VJ Day - Victory in Japan Day - marks the official end of the Second World War. 

Southport author Jacquelyn Frith, whose great uncle was brutally murdered by his Japanese captors during World War Two, was upset to see the lack of people marking the anniversary in Southport and across the UK last year. Now Southport MP Damien Moore is joining her in calling for the landmark anniversary to be properly recognised. 

Mr Moore said: “August 15 marks 75 years since the end of World War Two. But it is also a time to recognise the immense courage, bravery and sacrifice of so many men and women from Southport and around the world who faced horrendous conditions in the Far East. 

“At the end of the conflict, VE Day was celebrated widely, but VJ Day less so, despite it marking the official end of the war. 

“Allied Prisoners Of War were told not to speak of their experiences when they returned home. 

“Many who served in the fight against Japan referred to themselves as ‘The Forgotten Army’. 

“They must be ‘forgotten’ no longer. This year, on Saturday, August 15, I would encourage as many people as possible to pay their respects to The Fallen at Southport Monument.

“I understand the Coronavirus is with us and people are socially distancing. So perhaps on that date people can hold two minutes’ silence wherever you are. 

“I would like to congratulate Jacquelyn on her campaign to raise awareness of the Far East veterans and Prisoners Of War. 

“This year, we will remember them.” 

Jacquelyn Frith was shocked to discover how her great uncle after whom she was named, Jack Frith, was murdered by his Japanese captors while he was a PoW during World War Two. He was just 23 years old. 

Now she is urging others to back a growing campaign to establish a commemorative annual event to mark VJ Day in recognition of the suffering and sacrifice of Far East PoWs and others who served in the harrowing conflict.

Jacquelyn said: “It was an awful experience for them. 

“My great uncle Jack Frith was taken prisoner on the Dutch surrender of Java. 

“He was held and was forced to build airstrips on the remote island of Ambon in readiness for the planned Japanese invasion of Australia. 

“Jack was killed by the Japanese after suffering nearly two years of barbaric treatment in three different PoW camps. 

“He was killed after the transport ship he was on, the Suez Maru, was torpedoed and sunk on November 29, 1943.

“There were 548 PoWs aboard and some 250 survived the sinking, only to be shot whilst treading water, by the Japanese who had been rescued by their escort ship.” 

Jacquelyn, like her parents, grew up in Southport. She has just completed a book about the atrocity in which Jack was killed, and about his life, called Unwritten Letters to Spring Street, which has just been published. 

Jacquelyn said: “The VJ Day campaign is to ask for an official day of recognition for the Forgotten Army of the Far East.

“VE Day anniversaries make so many headlines that many people think that marked the end of World War Two – not until August 15 was the war officially over.

“We are pushing hard to raise awareness of their sacrifice.

“Those of us with family lost and damaged by their PoW experiences feel a responsibility to make sure they are not forgotten, despite being ‘the Forgotten Army’, and that they should be recognised even at this late hour, for their sacrifices.”

There will be  a VJ commemoration with standard bearers and veterans at the Cenotaph on Lord Street in Southport for 10:30am last post at 11am.They will then move to the gardens for a short service, while asking people to maintain social distancing.People attending are being asked to wear a face cover / mask.The standards that are attending are the Burma Star, Southport Branch RBL, SSAFA Sefton.