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U.K. commemorates 75th anniversary of WW-II end

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London, August 16, 2020 (PTI) Britain’s prince Charles on Saturday led the UK’s commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day – the day World War II ended with Japan’s surrender in 1945.

The 71-year-old heir to the British throne, joined by wife Camilla – Duchess of Cornwall, led a two-minute UK-wide silence from the national memorial arboretum in Staffordshire in the West Midlands region of England as part of a service of remembrance.

It is estimated that there were 71,000 British and Commonwealth, including Indian, casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity.

The fighting in Europe had ended in May 1945, but many British forces were still fighting against Japan in east Asia.

The 75th anniversary of VJ Day – victory over the Japanese which signalled the very end of the Second World War – has been commemorated with a series of events honouring those who fought in the Far East.

A televised remembrance service took place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, where a two-minute silence was led by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at 11am.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson read the Exhortation before the silence, which was followed by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast over the arboretum.

Richard Day, 93, from Boreham Wood, north London, who was involved in the decisive Battle of Kohima in north-east India, which marked a turning point in the Far East land campaign, was among about 40 veterans at the ceremony of remembrance.

Day, of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, served in the forces which relieved Kohima and Imphal and told of how he contracted malaria and dysentery at the same time, while fighting a highly determined enemy. He said: “I think the worse part was crossing rivers at night, it was cold at night – then all night in wet clothes and wet equipment, still having to move about. They (the Japanese) were very determined for their emperor. It was a glory for them to die for their emperor. They didn’t appear to have any fear at all.”

Charles and the duchess laid poppy posies and wreathes at the Kwai Railway Memorial, while veterans looked on from benches dotted around the memorial, to maintain social distancing.

The prince’s wreath read: “In everlasting remembrance, Charles”, while the duchess’s poppy posy read: “In everlasting remembrance of your service and sacrifice.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has meant tributes to mark the landmark anniversary have been organised online and in television, with the Duke of Cambridge to appear on screens across the country in VJ Day 75: The Nation’s Tribute, a pre-recorded BBC programme filmed at Horse Guards Parade.

Developed with the Ministry of Defence and involving 300 members of Armed Forces personnel, the programme scheduled to broadcast at 8.30pm promises a host of famous faces reading tributes, military bands and dramatic visual projection, with the duke to give a special address thanking veterans and the wartime generation.

In a video to be published online, the Prince of Wales reads an extract from the diary of his grandfather, King George VI, written on August 15th 1945, when thousands watched him and the Queen drive down the Mall in an open carriage.

He reads: “By 10am there were already large crowds outside Buckingham Palace and we drove in procession in a state landau with an escort to Westminster where I opened the first Peace time Parliament since 1938.

“The Crown was carried in the full procession but no robes were worn. My speech took 16 minutes to read, in which I mentioned the surrender of Japan.”

In a separate video, the Duke of Gloucester reads an extract from the speech delivered by King George VI on VJ Day, which forms part of an online service of commemoration from Leicester Cathedral.

In a special message, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh – who himself was aboard HMS Whelp in Tokyo Bay as the Japanese signed the surrender aboard USS Missouri on August 15, 1945 – gave “grateful thanks” to all those who fought for the Allied nations.

In a statement, the Queen said: “Prince Philip and I join many around the world in sending our grateful thanks to the men and women from across the Commonwealth, and Allied nations, who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today.”

The Duke of Edinburgh, 99, featured alongside other veterans on a number of large screens across the UK, including the Piccadilly Curve, in a photo-montage showing veterans today and when they served.

In a letter addressed to the veterans of the Far East Campaign, Johnson showed his gratitude to the 50,000 British and Commonwealth service personnel who laid down their lives in the war against Japan, half of whom died in prison camps.

 

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Foreign qualified medical students protest

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A group of foreign medical degree holders protested opposite the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23) requesting that tangible measures be taken to conduct the Examination for Registration to Practice Medicine (ERPM) without further delay.

They alleged that over 1,500 students had been deprived of the opportunity to sit the examination due to the fault of the Sri Lanka Medical Council, which is now under investigation by a committee, appointed by Health Minister Pavitra Wanniarachchi.

Photo: A section of the protesting students (pic by Thushara Atapattu)

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SJB insists referendum necessary besides 2/3 majority in Parliament

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Supreme Court moved against 20A

By Chitra Weerarathne

General Secretary of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya Ranjith Madduma Bandara, MP, yesterday (23) filed a petition in the Supreme Court stating that the proposed 20th Amendment (20A) to the Constitution was inconsistent with the Constitution. It requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament and approval by people at a referendum for passage, the SJV has argued.

The SJB says 20A violates people’s sovereignty and franchise enshrined in Article (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

The petitioner has argued that the provisions in clause 55 of the Bill are inconsistent with the public trust doctrine and the principle of checks and balances and would prejudicially affect public finance.

 The clause 54 of the Bill seeks to repeal Article 156 A of the Constitution, which provides constitutional recognition to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or corruption, the petition says.

 The petition says 20A seeks to repeal the prohibition on dual citizens being elected to Parliament and to the post of President.

The power of the Auditor General to audit the state institutions has been curtailed, the petition says, arguing that it could be detrimental to the economy.

It will be detrimental to the country if the Constitutional Council is replaced by a Parliamentary Council, the SJB General Secretary’s has contended in his petition.

Clause 20 (2) of the proposed 20A has restricted the powers of the Election Commission as regards the conduct of elections, the petitioner has argued.

The 20A states that an omission by the President could no longer be challenged through a fundamental rights violation petitions in the Supreme Court, the petitioner has said, adding that the Bill seeks to further enhance the powers of the President by allowing him to unilaterally remove the Prime Minister. The President would not be accountable to Parliament, the petition says.

The 20A would repeal Article 70/ (1) of the Constitution and enable the President to dissolve Parliament even immediately after a general election, the SJB General Secretary argues.

The respondent to the petition is the Attorney General.

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Lawyer Hijaz’s foundation received funds from banned foreign outfit – CID tells court

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By A.J.A.A beynayake and Kasuni Rebecca

The CID yesterday informed the Colombo Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage that Save the Pearls Trust run by lawyer Hijaz Hisbullah, now in custody for allegedly aiding and abetting one of the Easter Sunday bombers, had received Rs.13 million from a banned organisation named the Caliphate of Qatar.

The CID told court that according to the bank accounts of the trust the money had been received by it during the last few years and the police had launched an investigation to ascertain whether the funds had been used for terrorist activities.

The CID told court the investigation had been launched under the Money Laundering Act and a psychologist’s opinion had been sought on the book titled “Navarasam” found in a madrasa (school teaching Islam) run by Save the Pearls Trust in Puttalam.

The Magistrate order the CID to submit to court a Sinhala translation of the book and examine whether the contents of the book promoted terrorism.

The case will be taken up again on October 7.

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