Seventy-five years ago, on August 15, 1945, World War II was finally over, and VP Day was gazetted.
The day, "Victory in the Pacific Day", commemorates Japan's unconditional surrender as Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms.
The 75th anniversary will mean a lot to so many Australians, in towns and cities right across the country.
Twenty-five years ago, the Manning River Times produced a series of features marking the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. Here's a glimpse of what we did.
How peace news was received in Taree
SCENES IN THE STREETS
Taree received first news of Japan's surrender when a broadcast by Mr Attlee (Prime Minister of Britain) came over the wireless at 9am.
At the primary school Mr H B Lloyd-Owen (headmaster) had the children assembled in a hollow square on the playground and the school loud speaker was brought out so that they might hear the speech of the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr J B Chifley) announce the triumph. After that they were dismissed until next Monday morning. There was a somewhat similar procedure at the high school, where Mr F J Gallagher (principal) had charge of proceedings. There, too, the students were allowed a holiday for the remainder of the week.
In the Church of England Rev W Latham conducted a special service of thanksgiving in the morning, prior to attending the general service in the Boomerang Theatre at noon.
News quickly spread through the town. Within a few minutes of Mr Attlee's broadcast excited and cheering children, on the way to school, were eagerly anticipating a respite from lessons. In the town work was suspended for the day and places of business in which duty had been begun less than an hour before were bereft of assistants and were closed. But before the closure flags and other tokens of victory were placed in windows and in front of shops and staff bore national colours of Britain, Australia, the United States, or Greece. Certainly central Victoria Street looked gay and set the tone for the celebrants who quickly got to work.
Young people on beflagged bicycles careered hither and thither, singing, bantering and cheering, and one girl rode along ringing a dinner bell to show her jubilation. Behind some bicycles pieces of tin or iron were dragged to add to the noise, and to many motor cars there were trailers of kerosene tins filled with stones. A few motor cars and lorries carried impromptu bands, which discoursed familiar airs in more or less tuneful fashion. But who cared about the harmony? All was in keeping with the spirit of revelry, which lasted until near midday. Hotels were closed all day.
In the evening there was community singing, arranged by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League, in the business portion of Victoria Street, which had been closed to traffic. A chocolate wheel was in operation for the purpose of separating the venturous from their cash. Later there was an adjournment to Belmore Hall, where a Diggers' dance had been arranged.
Taking it all around, Taree maintained its reputation for not losing its head, no matter how extraordinary the occasion. The police had no difficulty in keeping control and did not once have to exercise the tact for which they are known.
TAREE GIVES THANKS
Service in Boomerang Theatre
Serious happiness was the mood of the large number of people who attended the service of thanksgiving which the Ministers' Association arranged in the Boomerang Theatre at noon on Wednesday.
Stories we wrote for the 50th anniversary special edition of the Manning River Times
Dry celebration for working boys
Ray Gillogly, who fought in New Guinea during WWII, had to postpone his victory celebrations.
He didn't get home until 1946. His battalion was given the job of destroying army equipment in New Guinea.
"There were celebrations," he told the Manning River Times in 1995. "But we didn't have much to celebrate with. There was the odd bottle of beer, if you scrounged around long enough."
It was a testing time for Ray. "The end of the war was a lonely time for us. We didn't really know when we'd be getting home. Everyone just wanted to get home after such a hell of a time."
Ray was 70 years old in 1995.
And while the end of the war was a lonely time for him, it didn't compare with his brother Leo's experience. Leo was sent to Hiroshima after they dropped the bomb.
Ray didn't want to recount what Leo saw during the ally occupation.
"It was so cruel... it was unexplainable."
Ray was posted to the biggest airbase on the island. The most vivid of his memories was the sound of American liberation bombers taking off as the war drew to an end.
"You could not image the sheer magnitude of the final bombing efforts," he told the Times. "Hundreds of planes. The Americans would start taking off a daylight. A plane a minute for the whole day, if the weather was good."
Ray finally got home, to the later benefit of the Manning. He served on Manning Shire Council from 1962 to 1983 and spent a three year term as shire president.
Message that finally came
"Cancel all operations against the enemy forthwith including missions now airborne. Report by immediate signal time and date of last operational mission. Acknowledge."
This was the message received at Eastern Area's Headquarters at Point Piper, Sydney. Molly Corliss was a sergeant with the Women's Australian Auxiliary Air Force and it was her job to "final check it' and make sure all the appropriate people received this very important message - the message which marked Victory in the Pacific on August 15, 1945.
Molly and her husband Ted Sutton later retired to Old Bar and on the 50th anniversary of VP Day in 1995, Molly told her story to the Manning River Times.
Molly enlisted with the WAAAF on May 2, 1942 from her home town, the railway town of Binnaway in the Central West of NSW. She did her 'rookies' in Sydney, then went to Robertson on the South Coast, then Richmond and Point Piper. She spent the rest of her service at Point Piper with the exception of about 10 days in Bankstown.
The day the message came through marking the end of hostilities in the Pacific, the girls in the signal office knew something was in the wind. "We 'smelled a rat', as they say," Molly said.
The message came at about midday but Molly and her workmates had to finish their shift before they could join the celebrations in Martin Place.
Molly told the Times her first thought at the news was "Ahh, it's over."
"Then I wondered what it will be like in civilian life." Thoughts of what to wear were a problem. Her civilian clothes would no longer fit and coupons were needed to buy new clothes.
War was over, but still the radar boys worked
If the"'Balikpapan Table Tops" was a paid newspaper, it would have sold out on August 15, 1945.
Former Wingham High agriculture teacher and Cundletown resident, Warren Deards, posted in New Guinea during WWII, read the military-issue daily and was overjoyed. "It's All Over," it said. "Japan has surrendered."
Page 2 described the scenes back home.
"A mighty storm of joy swept Australia when the Jap (sic) surrender was announced. Surging throngs danced, sang and shouted in every city centre. Every small town and outlying area celebrated."
While the folks back home were celebrating, Warren and his 51 mates of the RAAF 322 radar station were still at their posts in the Tanah Merah jungles.
322 had the job of detecting Japanese bombers and relaying information to ally air bases so counter attacks could be launched.
The Japanese had established 60 landing strips in the islands above Australia and were planning a full-scale invasion.
Records show the Japanese regarded the capture of Tanah Merah, Merauke and Port Moresby as imperative before the invasion.
Warren and the rest of the 322 boys didn't let this happen. At the time, however, he wasn't aware of just how important his radar station was.
"It was a vital role, but we didn't realise at the time," Warren told the Manning River Times in the lead up to the 50th anniversary of VP Day.
"We were so damn young. I was never fearful. Probably because I didn't realise how close we were to the need to be fearful."
Warren was plucked from teachers college in 1943 and sent into some of the most inhospitable places on earth.
"Tanah Merah was the place the Dutch (who at the time controlled half of New Guinea) sent its political prisoners. They couldn't get out because of the boggy marshes. But anyone who went there was going to get malaria anyway."
Radar was in its infancy, so Warren spent more time battling the demands of the RAAF hierarchy than the enemy.
Maybe the troops of 322 weren't fully aware of how vital they were to the war but, according the Warren, there weren't too many Australians who even knew the troops were there.
Warren never met the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. The bombings were enough.
To go to war is to change your view of life forever, he told the Times.
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