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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 August 2005, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Prince marks VJ Day at Cenotaph
Prince Charles
The Prince of Wales joined veterans at the Cenotaph
Prince Charles has led national commemorations marking the defeat of Japan in World War II 60 years ago.

Tokyo surrendered to Allied forces on 15 August 1945 after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic bombs.

Prince Charles and government members laid wreaths at London's Cenotaph and have attended a service to remember those who died fighting.

The events form part of the final national commemoration of VJ Day and the end of the war.

The Burma Star is most grateful that they and all who fought and suffered in the Far East have been recognised and remembered
Viscount Slim
President of the Burma Star Association

The prince paid tribute to the "special generation" of veterans and survivors of the Far East campaign in a service at Westminster Hall.

Addressing the packed gathering he said: "Yours is such a special generation: stoical, loyal, indefatigable and dutiful.

"You have been the bedrock of this country for all these years and it will not be the same without you. So we salute you with all our hearts," Prince Charles continued.

He also spoke of the "Japanese tyranny" British forces fought against and the frustration of so few people being aware of the battle in the Far East because of the focus on Europe.

Cenotaph silence

The day began in the sunshine with a procession of veterans from the Burma Star Association carrying 30 standards to the Cenotaph.

A service of remembrance was conducted at the memorial by Burma Star veteran the Reverend Roy Day.

Cenotaph
I know that these events have encouraged veterans to talk about their wartime experience
Adam Ingram, Armed Forces minister

Prince Charles laid a wreath of red poppies at the Cenotaph watched by hundreds of veterans, many accompanied by their children and grandchildren.

Wreaths were also laid by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Armed Forces minister Adam Ingram, General Sir Michael Walker, the Chief of Defence Staff, and Commonwealth representatives.

As the Last Post sounded, the crowd fell silent for two minutes in memory of those who did not return.

Some of the veterans gathered by the Centoaph after the ceremony to pay their own respects to fallen comrades.

Sacrifices acknowledged

There were earlier wreath laying ceremonies at the nearby Memorial to Earl Mountbatten on Foreign Office Green and the Memorial to Field Marshal Slim at Raleigh Green.

Viscount Slim, President of the Burma Star Association, laid the wreath at his father's memorial.

He said: "The Burma Star is most grateful that they and all who fought and suffered in the Far East have been recognised and remembered."

The Duke of Edinburgh, who served with the British Pacific Fleet and was a witness to the final surrender of the Japanese, attended a service in Aberdeen.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said: "This year's commemorative events have enabled us to demonstrate to those who lived through the war at home and abroad that the sacrifices their generation made and the hardships they endured are still acknowledged, valued and appreciated.

"I know that these events have encouraged veterans to talk about their wartime experience, some for the first time, and pass on their own family's story to younger generations giving them the opportunity to keep these memories alive."

On Monday, commemorative events were held across the UK to mark Japan's defeat.

The formal surrender was signed on 2 September 1945.




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Archive footage of the end of the Second World War



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