Earlier this year communities across East Sussex celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day – the day the war ended in Europe. But whilst VE Day marked the end of the war on the home front, many thousands of armed forces personnel were still engaged in bitter fighting in the Far East. They included members of the Royal Sussex Regiment.
The war there involved some of the most fierce fighting amongst some of the most difficult conditions. Victory over Japan would come at a very heavy cost. VJ Day (Victory over Japan) on Saturday (August 15) marks the day Japan surrendered and the Second World War finally came to an end.
The Shiny Ninth
Fighting in the Far East took place from Hawaii to North East India and Britain’s main fighting force, was the Fourteenth Army. According to the Royal British Legion, this was one of the most diverse in history – more than 40 languages were spoken. Members of the “Shiny Ninth” 9th battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment were among them – fighting in Burma (now Myanmar).
These forces are often referred to as the “Forgotten Army” because its operations in the Burma Campaign were often overlooked by the contemporary press. It attracted less attention than events which had taken place closer to home in Europe.
Two minutes silence
But on Saturday (August 15) we all have the chance to pause, reflect and commemorate the sacrifices those military personnel made in the Far East. Veterans of the Far East campaign will be at the heart of the 75th anniversary commemorations as the nation thanks them for their service and sacrifice.
In East Sussex, as well as up and down the country, a two minute silence will be held at 11 am on Saturday. Events will also pay tribute to the tens of thousands of service personnel from across the UK and the Commonwealth who fought and died in the war against Japan, including all those who were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese.
For more information on VJ Day and how it is being remembered visit https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/remembrance-events/vj-day
The Royal Sussex Regiment was formed in 1881 and continued through until 1966 when it became part of the Queens Regiment. As well as Burma, its soldiers also saw action in France, North Africa, Italy, Arnhem, Persia (now Iran) and Iraq in the second world war. For more information about the regiment visit: https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/royal-sussex-regiment
There’s also a Facebook page dedicated to the members of the 9th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment who fought in Burma https://www.facebook.com/theshinyninth/