70th Anniversary of VJ-Day

Peter Eastick

Gabriola Veterans’ Association

Tuesday, October 27 2015

After the war in Europe ended, the first Canadian force to make itself felt in the Far East was the Royal Canadian Navy who sent the cruiser HMCS UGANDA to join the British Pacific Fleet. A small number of Canadians were serving with the Fleet and on August 9, Lieutenant Robert Gray of Nelson, BC flew his Corsair dive-bomber off the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE. 

His mission was to attack Japanese shipping near the Home Islands. He spotted a Japanese destroyer in Onagawa Bay and dove to attack. His bombs struck the ship amidships and it quickly sank. However Gray’s aircraft had been repeatedly hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the ocean. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. 

More than 10,000 Canadians had or were serving in the Far East and this included two Royal Canadian Air Force Transport Squadrons supplying supplies to the Allied troops fighting in the jungles of Burma (now Myanmar). On August 6 the first Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and three days later another on Nagasaki. On August 11 Emperor Hirohito asked for Peace talks. His wish was realized on August 15 and the formal surrender was officially signed on September 2. Peace could finally be celebrated in the knowledge that no more Canadians would have to die in one of the most terrible wars in history.

2015 marks the 75th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain as well as the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

As well, the members of the Gabriola Island Veterans Association will be celebrating their 20th anniversary.

In recognition of this, ahead of the November 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies, the Sounder will be printing articles written by Peter Eastick and submitted by Judith Anne Henderson recounting the events of 75 years ago.