At 11am on Saturday 15 August, a small group gathered at the Kohima War Memorial at County Hall in Dorchester to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Japan (VJ) Day and remember all those who died in the Second World War in Asia. A minute silence was observed.
Councillor Pauline Batstone, chairman of the council, Lord Lieutenant Angus Campbell and High Sheriff George Streatfield attended the socially distanced service and laid wreaths to remember the fallen, and for the Queen and the people of Dorset.
Although the Second World War ended in Europe on 8 July (VE Day), war did not end until finally the Japanese were forced to surrender as a consequence of the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Those who fought in Burma, the Pacific and the far east were known as “the forgotten army”.
The Second Battalion of the Dorset Regiment, which had fought so hard and decisively at Kohima, and in the continuing battle which drove the Japanese out of Burma, was the first British Battalion to be given the responsibility to enter Tokyo, and to take part, with the Americans, in the occupation of Japan. The battle at Kohima was a turning point in the war and at one point the armies were fighting across a tennis court.
Councillor Batstone said: ‘As Chairman of the Council I am honoured to represent the staff and councillors of Dorset Council in laying the second wreath at the memorial.
‘I chose to lay a wreath of evergreens, dried palms, some real flowers and bright silk poppies because Burma and Singapore make me think of more exotic blooms whereas the usual red poppies of Flanders to me represent the two wars in Europe.’
The regimental flag of the Dorset Regiment flew over County Hall over the weekend, kindly loaned by The Keep Museum.