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Last Updated: Friday, 5 August 2005, 05:10 GMT 06:10 UK
VJ memories
VJ day in London
This Press Association picture captures the mood in London
It was only when the allies secured Victory over Japan, that World War II was to finally come to an end.

Celebrations took place all over the world on 15 August 1945.

Our picture, by the Press Association shows just one of the scenes from London, with two airmen displaying a newspaper headline which simply read: "Japan Surrenders".

As the 60th anniversary approaches, Breakfast looks at the events through the eyes of the veterans who were there.

  • Breakfast's series of special films ran from Monday August 8 to Friday August 12.

    Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, we can no longer make these films available on the internet.

    But you can still read historical accounts of the end of World War II from BBC News Interactive's 'On this Day' pages

    Monday 8 August: Burma campaign veterans

    Masao Hirakubo OBE and Major General Sir Ian Lyall Grant
    Veterans Major General Sir Ian Lyall Grant and Masao Hirakubo OBE

    In the first of our reports, we hear from a British and Japanese veteran of the Burma campaign who fought at the battles of Kohima and Imphal.

    Both soldiers have worked tirelessly for reconciliation.

    They met 15 years ago and have taken veterans back to Japan to meet up with their former combatants.

    Major General Sir Ian Lyall Grant is a veteran of the Burma campaign. And, Lieutenant Masao Hirakubo is now a British citizen, who's been awarded an OBE for his work on post-war reconciliation.

    We brought the two veterans together to discuss what happened in Burma.

  • Major-General Sir Ian Lyall Grant MC has written extensively on the Burma campaign - Burma: The Turning Point, published February 2004. And Burma 1942: The Japanese Invasion. Grant, (Ian Lyall) & Tamay Ama (Kazuo) January 1999.

    Tuesday 9 August: British PoWs

    Detail from one of Jack Bridger Chalker's drawings of life as a prisoner of war
    Guards would force PoWs to hold a boulder over their head

    Today we heard from British PoWs held in Changi camp, Singapore, who worked on Burma to Thailand Railway.

    Conditions were appalling - and prisoners of war were immensely badly treated by their Japanese guards.

    They were recorded by the artist Jack Bridger Chalker, who was captured a month after his arrival in Singapore.

    We also heard the experiences of Bombadier Steve Cairns, who was beaten so that he was left unable to have children.

    Sixty years on, neither man is able to forgive the Japanese for what happened:

    "I don't think I could forgive them - I'd be betraying the boys who died," Steve told us. Jack agrees:

    "The brutality was excessive and horrifying - and so unnecessary."

  • Jack Chalker has written a book: The War Drawings of Jack Chalker, Burma Railway Artist: Artist at War in Singapore, Thailand and Burma, 1942-45. Published by: Leo Cooper, 1994

  • Wednesday 10: the Chindit fighters

    Eighty three year old Major Neville Hogan, who's Anglo-Burmese, served as a Burma rifleman and became one of the Chindits - a special force brought together by General Orde Wingate to fight deep behind enemy lines in the Burmese jungle.
    Major Neville Hogan (second row, extreme left) with his fellow Chindits
    Major Neville Hogan took part in the Chindits' 1944 campaign

    The Chindits were British, Scottish Ghurka and Burma platoons - and their job was to cut Japanese communications and supply lines, to prevent their advance north.

    He remembers the Japanese as formidable fighters - but he's unable to forgive the cruelty he witnessed.

  • Thursday 11: the Indian RAF pilot

    Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji DFC was one of only 24 Indians who volunteered for the RAF - only 18 became pilots.

    Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji flew Hurricanes during the war

    He's the only remaining one alive. His first action was over France, then Middle East and then Burma - flying Hurricanes on missions, gaining intelligence and bombing the enemy in the jungle.

    In Burma his job was to fly very low over the jungle to locate army positions - his unit soon became known as "the eyes of the 14th army".

    Squadron Leader Pujji says that he wasn't afraid to fly:

    "I think you can be a good pilot only if you're not scared...I wanted to fly and I didn't care if I died".

  • Friday 12: the British Internees

    We talk to Drina Leeson and Doris Hewitt. Now in their 70s, they were 15 and 13 when they were interned by the Japanese in Sumatra.

    In the days before Singapore fell to the Japanese in February 1942, the women and children of the ex-pat British communities, scrambled onto the last ships to leave the peninsular.

    Two of the ships were bombed and sunk. Drina was on one of them. After days in the water the survivors struggled ashore onto Banka Island - and into the hands of the Japanese. Doris's ship was captured.

    They spent three and a half years in various camps - and have remained friends ever since.

  • BBC Breakfast


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