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Perpetuating the insult

Posted by Richard Monday, July 11, 2005

Readers might have wondered why we did not join this weekend’s celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Second World War, pictures of which dominate the newspapers this morning, not least the dropping of a million poppies by a Lancaster over Buckingham Palace and the Mall.

The answer, however, is quite simple. The date of 10 July is a wholly artificial construct, picked for administrative convenience (and to save Ministers having to break into their holidays) by a Blair government which seems to have little understanding of history, and cares less.

The 10th July does not mark the end of the Second World War. The official end, marked by VJ-Day, was on 15 August 1945, although the surrender documents were not actually signed by the Japanese government until 2 September.

In the July, men and women were still at war. The British 14th Army, who rightly complained of being the "forgotten Army", were still mopping up in Burma and, in the Pacific, attention was focusing, after the bruising battle of Okinawa, on preparations for a land invasion of Japan. Over 40,000 tons of bombs had yet to be dropped on that country, culminating in the dropping on A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August. And the Russian campaign in Manchuria did not start until 8th August.

By 10th July 1945, hundreds of thousands people were still to die, and much misery was to unfold before the world saw the temporary cessation of hostilities.

To celebrate the end of the Second World War on an arbitrary date, with no historical anchor, is therefore to perpetuate the insult to those people who were still fighting and dying, people who, like the 14th Army, felt they were being forgotten. That is why we did not join in the celebrations. Unlike some others, we have not forgotten.