Commemorate VP Day

Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day commemorates Japan’s acceptance of the Allied demand for unconditional surrender, effectively putting an end to World War II, and six years of global devastation.

Saturday 15 August 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of Victory in the Pacific Day for Australians, Join us as we look back on the years of commemorations, cavalcades and camaraderie that underpin the Queensland war experience and recognise those who bravely served our nation.

This year, Queenslanders will commemorate differently than in years past, at home, online and inside the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries, with a variety of resources curated by State Library of Queensland.

Airman embraces his girlfriend, Brisbane, 1946

Image: Airman embraces his girlfriend, Brisbane, 1946
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Watch 75 Years

For Queenslanders, the Allied victory in August 1945 represented the end of a six-year long ordeal, during which loved ones risked their lives for their country, and the threat of foreign invasion was always present in the public’s mind. With the announcement of peace came enormous victory parades, the demobilisation and return of thousands of soldiers and prisoners of war, the release of wartime Interns from camps, the departure of American troops and their fleets of Australian and International war brides, and the relief of a nation weary from war.

Watch as Queenslanders share their experiences of Victory in the Pacific, and the impacts of war and peace upon their lives.

This activity was funded under the Commonwealth Government's Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.
Proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

Childhood at War digital story
Narrated by Ronald Rees and John Carr, who were present as children at the Victory in the Pacific Day celebrations in 1945. Mr Rees and Mr Carr talk about Southport and the Gold Coast during World War Two; General Douglas MacArthur; US servicemen in Brisbane and Victory parades.

Childhood at War: oral history with John Carr
An oral history with John Carr, who was present as a child at the Victory in the Pacific Day celebrations in 1945. Mr Carr shares his reminiscences of Southport on the day victory was announced. His memories of the mail man yelling in the morning 'The war is over! The war is over!' and of singers performing in the open streets, where traffic was brought to a standstill by crowds of ecstatic revelers, evoke a sense of the joy and relief experienced by all war-weary Queenslanders. Carr shares the experience of boarding the USS Clark when it was docked in Queensland. 'I went with my sister,' he recalls, 'and the sailors lifted me aboard and took me on a tour.'

Childhood at War: oral history with Ronald Rees
An oral history with Ronald Rees as he discusses his experiences with the American soldiers at the military base near Slaughter Falls. Mr Rees describes them interacting with the local children, who would walk past the base on their way to school, and giving them rationed and luxury items as gifts. 'I had never tasted chocolate before,' he laughs, 'Never seen anyone smoke a cigar before either.' His interactions with the American soldiers weren’t limited to the Slaughter Falls base. Mr Rees claims to have briefly met General Douglas MacArthur during his time, an event that had a profound impact on him as a child. In the schoolyard, Mr Rees and his friends would practice their aim with slingshots and assure their teachers that they would be 'ready to defend' the school if the Japanese invasion came. Despite many scout masters leaving to serve in the war, the boys in Mr Ree's neighbourhood maintained a makeshift scouts program on their own, with the older children taking care of the younger ones.

World War Two veteran Robert McDermant digital story
Robert McDermant, QX58320, was a nursing orderly with the 7th Field Ambulance. Born in March 1923, he enlisted in 1941 after receiving a letter to meet members of the army at Roma Street Station. Initially placed in infantry, Robert was later transferred into nursing due to significant prior training in first aid. His oral history details his time in Port Moresby, Milne Bay, and Papua New Guinea. Mr McDermant describes in detail the events of a five day journey on a makeshift hospital and POW transport ship filled with sick and wounded Japanese soldiers.

World War Two veteran Douglas Farmer digital story
Douglas Farmer, 76428, was a member of the Royal Australian Air Force. He was initially posted and trained in Maryborough, where he spent significant amounts of time with the RAAF and the WAAAF. Maryborough Airport was an important Queensland RAAF base during World War Two. The airbase was a facilitator of the Empire Air Training Scheme, which was a British-established scheme to deliver the initial training for Commonwealth air forces including Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. At the entry of America into the war, the Empire Air Training Scheme was suspended, but Maryborough remained active in Recruit Training for both RAAF and WAAAF. After completing his training, Mr Farmer was transferred to Sandgate, then later to international service. Mr Farmer completed over 18 months of active service in Papua New Guinea.

War bride Jackie McLaughlin oral history
Jackie McLaughlin, a 97-year-old, British born war bride recalls serving in the British W.A.A.F. during World War Two; living through the London blitz; meeting her Queensland-born husband in a pub during the war; the ending of the war and her personal celebrations of victory in Europe and in the Pacific.

War bride Jackie McLaughlin digital story
Jackie McLaughlin, a 97-year-old, British born war bride recalls serving in the British W.A.A.F. during World War Two; living through the London blitz; meeting her Queensland-born husband in a pub during the war; the ending of the war and her personal celebrations of victory in Europe and in the Pacific.

Onsite

Explore the full extent of Queensland’s involvement in the Second World War inside the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries – a free, digital exhibition located beneath the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane CBD.

Visiting the galleries in person is a great way to explore State Library’s digital collection of stories, letters, photographs and historical artefacts, with our friendly Visitor Services team onsite to enrich your experience.

Ask Anzac Stories

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, you can stop and reflect this Remembrance Day with help from your voice assistant.  

It's simple, just say “Ask Anzac Stories” using Amazon Alexa or your Google Assistant and follow the prompts to schedule a minute's silence on your device.

You can also request a poppy be placed on your behalf inside Anzac Square Memorial Galleries and listen to stories from the armed forces through this award-winning program.

Accessing Anzac Stories is simple. To start:

  • Say ‘Ask Anzac Stories’ using Amazon Alexa or your Google Assistant and follow the prompts to hear a selection of stories from veterans retold from letters and diaries. 
  • Say ‘Place a Poppy’ for the team at Anzac Square Memorial Galleries to place a poppy in an Anzac Square gallery of your choice.
  • Say ‘Listen to the Last Post’ to observe a minute’s silence.

If you don’t already have an Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled device, you can still access the service by downloading the Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant app onto your smart phone.

Young men attempt to reach a higher vantage point on VJ Day, Brisbane, 1945

Image: Young men attempt to reach a higher vantage point on VJ Day, Brisbane, 1945
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Explore

Search through State Library’s exciting new interactive online tool, Explorer where you can view images and film from the Second World War and help document the story of Queensland by tagging and commenting on collection items. You can also upload your own photos from the time.  

Read

State Library has transcribed more than 150 newspaper articles which provide a unique insight into the events that lead to the end of World War II and VP Day celebrations across Queensland. These articles allow you to learn more about community sentiment in 1945 and the joy and relief that was felt when peace was finally announced.  This collection is accessible via Trove.

The Anzac Square team have also curated a list of eBooks, blogs and personal collections relating to WWII. To access these resources simply become a member of the State Library of Queensland. Members have access to countless resources that explore Australia’s unique military history, including WWII.

eBooks, blogs and personal stories relating to WWII can be accessed via One Search.

Women assembling camouflage for the war, Brisbane, ca. 1942

Image: Women assembling camouflage for the war, Brisbane, ca. 1942
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Listen

Listen to Prime Minister Ben Chifley announcing the end of the war against Japan, 15 August 1945. [V-P Announcement: Segment No. 179490 in Prime Ministers of Australia: A Compilation of speeches and interviews. Screensound Australia, National Screen and Sound Collection, Screensound Title No: 214438]

Make

 

Sadako Sasaki was just two years old when her hometown of Hiroshima was blasted by an atomic bomb on 6 August 1945. Like thousands of others, she developed leukaemia attributed to her exposure. During her illness, Sadako embraced the Japanese legend of “a thousand paper cranes”; it was said that anyone who made a thousand of these origami cranes would be granted a wish. After her death, they became a symbol of peace.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in the Pacific, you can download instructions for origami cranes.

Crane paper
Caption

Origami crane, symbol of peace

Image: Origami crane, symbol of peace

Military parade of Australian soldiers in New Guinea
Caption

Military parade of Australian soldiers in New Guinea, ca. 1943-1944

Image: Military parade of Australian soldiers in New Guinea, ca. 1943-1944
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Search

Learn more about your family’s war history by searching for war service records through the National Archives of Australia.

Explore the collections here.

Share

Don't forget to share your VP Day experience with us by using the hashtags #AnzacSquare and #VPDay75 on social media.

You may also be interested in contributing to the Federal Government’s #OneInAMillion social media campaign for VP Day. Find out more.

Wall of respect
Caption

Wall of respect

Image: Courtesy Department of Veterans Affairs, #OneInAMillion: Wall of Respect

Stay in touch

Be the first to know about upcoming commemorative events at Anzac Square by subscribing to our e-newsletter. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest news from Anzac Square by following us on Facebook and Instagram.