Saddleworth’s generations pay tributes to mark 75th anniversary of VJ Day

FROM a 94-year-old RAF veteran to community-minded young people, generations across Saddleworth marked the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan (VJ) Day.

August 15, 1945 saw Imperial Japan surrender and effectively bring the end of World War 2, following Victory in Europe (VE) Day a week earlier.

Street parties and celebrations planned for this year’s special anniversaries have been impacted by the coronavirus lockdown but the occasions have still been marked where possible.

On August 15, there was a short VJ Day service of remembrance at the memorial in St Chad’s Gardens, Uppermill led by Rev John Rosedale from Saddleworth Churches.

Pictures thanks to Jackie Clowes

John Whittle from Uppermill Band played the Last Post and Reveille, either side of a two-minute silence. He drew the service to a close with the National Anthem.

Marcus Emms, Shaw and Crompton Town Crier, performed the National Cry for Peace, written for the occasion by Bruno Peek, Pageant Master for VJ Day.

A wreath was laid on behalf of Saddleworth Branch RBL by vice chairman Alison Clowes.

She said: “It was pleasing to see a small number of the public pause to observe the service as they were passing through the park, all ensuring that appropriate social distancing regulations were observed.”

Meanwhile, a small group gathered, observing social distancing, at Lees memorial for a short service.

Thomas Kimblin, a 94-year-old RAF Veteran from Lees, laid flowers in memory of his friends and colleagues in Bengal, Singapore, Java, Sumatra and Malaya.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of Lees, Springhead and Grotton by St. Thomas’ Leesfield Church Harvest Queen Annie Jakeman, 10, and Lucas Exton, 8, and his sister Evie, 5, from 16th Oldham St. Edwards Scouts.

Pictures thanks to Pictureful of Memories

Annie’s great-grandad Snowden was an RAF pilot who flew Dakotas from India and dropped supplies to troops in Burma and her great-grandad Walker went to repatriate prisoners of war so she was very honoured to lay the wreath.

Marcus Emms, Shaw and Crompton Town Crier, read the National Cry of Peace.

Across, Lees, Springhead and Grotton, flags and bunting were flying high on businesses and homes, organised by the LSG Business hub.

Saddleworth Parish Councillor Max Woodvine paid his respects, particularly with his great-grandfather in mind.

He explained: “My great-grandfather was on active service overseas while his family waited for news at home so we must remember the Far East campaign and never forget the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief.

“We must also remember the terrible devastation that it brought. Amongst the joy there was cost and sacrifice.

“I send my grateful thanks to the men and women who fought so valiantly to secure the freedoms we cherish today. The memory of their bravery will remain with us always.”

Max Woodvine at the Lees memorial

The RBL had asked for any musicians who were able and willing to play the Last Post at 10.58am and/or sunset from their homes to do so and to share their videos.

Versions from local players can be viewed on the RBL Saddleworth Facebook page:

Meanwhile, a VJ Day exhibition of residents’ photographs, nostalgia and artwork has been created by Oldham Council to commemorate VJ Day.

In addition, young people have submitted posters and drawings based on a World War II or VJ Day theme.

The exhibition opened at Tommyfield Market on Friday, August 14 and will be in place for a month.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, annual remembrance services may not take place in November and the annual Poppy Appeal looks set to take on a different format.

The Saddleworth branch of the Royal British Legion is still waiting for more information of what will be allowed to take place, according to RBL and government guidance.

Currently, they will be allowed to proceed with a limited distribution of Poppy Appeal tins and poppies.

Wreaths are still available and organisations and any members of the public should request them through their local branch as soon as possible so orders can be placed.

If anyone wishes to order a wreath or crosses, please email Saddleworth branch vice chairman, Alison Clowes on for an order form.

Plain wreaths or wreaths with different organisations badges are available to order.

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