15 August 2020 marks 75 years since the surrender of Imperial Japan and the effective end of World War Two. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day, we have been scouring the Museum archives for relics of that momentous day and the hard fought but lesser known campaigns in South-East Asia that preceded it. Below is a small selection.

‘Final Victory’ announces this issue of The Burma Star, dated 15 August 1945. The article reads: ‘The Emperor has issued order to all Japanese Forces to lay down their arms and obey orders from the Allies … Mr Attlee announced a general holiday today and tomorrow and he expressed the wish that all who could should relax and enjoy themselves though there would be some who would have to carry on essential work’. E:08.0415.03. © Crown.

14 Section, 16 Base Workshop, Naples on parade for VJ Day. Military and civilian celebrations, both formal and more raucous, erupted all over the world at the news. E:09.0589.007. © Crown.

‘Do not overeat or overmedicate’ this pamphlet, dropped into a POW camp in Malaya warns. For REME personnel stationed in South-East Asia, the surrender marked the end of a series of significant but lesser known campaigns across Burma, Nepal and Singapore and the release of many taken as POWs. A:1963.0554.02. © Crown.

Hand drawn map from a report on REME and IEME involvement in the successful Allied offensive that concluded the Burma campaign in 1945. This diagram charts road to retaking Burma through the southward movement of 4 and 33 Corps – elements of the Fourteenth Army – from Kohima and Imphal, across challenging terrain to Mandalay, Meiktila and, eventually, Rangoon, following the course of the Irrawaddy River. A:2011.5331. © Crown.

Motorcycle trials at 10 Base Workshop, located at Armoured Vehicles and Ammunition Depot of India (AVADI), near Madras, now Chennai, India. The depot had been developed as a massive supply and maintenance base in anticipation of major attacks against the Japanese. Motorbikes were a common sight at the depot and even officers used them to get around. This practical use developed into a sporting pursuit with motorbike trials held from October to December 1945. In this picture a participant has fallen foul of a muddy hazard to the amusement of locals. A:2007.4903.109. © Unknown.

British vehicles abandoned by the Japanese near Shwegyin, Burma. These vehicles were abandoned when British, Indian and Chinese forces were expelled from the region in 1942. By May 1945 the Allies, in cooperation with the Patriotic Burmese Forces, had completely routed Imperial Japanese forces from most of Burma, following country-wide rebellions in March. This photo was taken in December 1944 when allied forces, including #REME, had recaptured the area around Shwegyin. A:1960.0244.14. © Unknown.


Japanese propaganda postcards, 1940s. These fascinating images are part of a set, designed to demonstrate Imperial Japan’s dominance over land, air and sea. They were donated to the Museum by a former member of 44 Anti-Aircraft Regiment Workshop REME, Burma. E:04.0310.06. © Unknown.

Find out more

Enjoy a suite of free talks and articles from the National Army Museum, the Royal Air Force Museum, the National Museum of the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, created to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day.