About this blog

As the author of this blog, Karen L Garner Martin Messick, I am the daughter of an American soldier, Wilbur (Bill) C. Garner, Sr. and Women's Royal English Navy service woman (British Wren) Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins, who met and married during World War II. They lived and loved for over 50 years before Mother passed in 2000. When she did I helped Dad with every day chores when I could. One day I was helping him clear things out and I lifted a plastic bag out of the seat of Mom's piano stool, asking Dad, "Whats in this bag?" to which he replied, "Just some of Mary's old letters." Mary, his older sister, was still alive at the time, residing in an assisted living facility, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. I put the letters back in the piano seat thinking he did not want me to open the letters.
When Dad passed two years later, I inherited Mary's letters.
When I began to read them, I found they were mostly letters from Dad to Mary while he was in World War II ("The War"). I could not put them down. I wished I had opened them the day I first saw them so that Dad and I could have had conversations about them, but that was not to be...so as I read through these "Letters to Mary" I began to get a glimpse into Dad's young years when he met Mom and his time as a soldier. I have researched events during World War II to enhance my understanding of what was happening in the war as each letter came to broaden my understanding of what he might have been experiencing. I knew he landed on the beaches of Normandy, France D-Day plus 1 as he recounted his memory of that day to me when he was dying from Leukemia. It was horrifying. There were also letters from a companion Mary had met while in Minneapolis, he had been deployed overseas. I have entwined them chronologically with Dad's letters as it gives a greater dimension to the war itself. I intend to editorialize as necessary to explain personal relationships and situations as the story unfolds through the "Letters to Mary." I welcome any questions, comments and feedback. As the "Greatest Generation" fades away, I felt compelled to share these letters and story in hopes of continuing the legacy they left for the world. Let us never forget the untold years and lives that were sacrificed for freedom!
If you have stumbled upon this blog I have added a blog archive at the bottom of the blog page. Continue to scroll down to access the Blog Archive. The posts are chronologically listed and to follow the story it is best to start with the first post in December 2013.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VJ Day England 1945 15 August 1945

The United States atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by aircraft-dropped atomic weapons took place on 6 and 9 August 1945 respectively. Two cities were totally devastated by the atomic bomb, killing tens of thousands of people in a matter of seconds within a radius that stretched for more than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers). The number of casualties in the months after the war is estimated to range from 150,000 to over 200,000.

In 1945 the End of World War II was celebrated on Victory in Japan (VJ) Day.
There was much joy and celebration around the world when on 15th August 1945 US President Harry S. Truman declared the day as Victory in Japan Day, at a White House press conference.
President Truman announced that the Japanese Government had agreed to comply in full with the Potsdam Declaration demanding the unconditional surrender of Japan.
To crowds gathered outside the White House, President Truman said: "This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor."
The end of war was to be marked by a two-day holiday in the UK, the USA and Australia.
At midnight, the British Prime Minister Clement Atlee confirmed the news in a broadcast saying, "The last of our enemies is laid low."
Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins Garner (back right) sits in Celebration alongside her mother Kate Hudman Wilkins

Gwendoline Rosa Wilkins Garner smiling (first left side of table)

The Prime Minister expressed gratitude to Britain's allies, in Australia and New Zealand, India, Burma, all countries occupied by Japan and to the USSR. But special thanks went to the United States "without whose prodigious efforts the war in the East would still have many years to run". The following evening King George VI addressed the nation and the Empire in a broadcast from his study at Buckingham Palace.
"Our hearts are full to overflowing, as are your own. Yet there is not one of us who has experienced this terrible war who does not realise that we shall feel it's inevitable consequences long after we have all forgotten our rejoicings today."
Historic buildings all over London were floodlit and people crowded onto the streets of every town and city shouting, singing, dancing, lighting bonfires and letting off fireworks.
But there were no celebrations in Japan - in his first ever radio broadcast, Emperor Hirohito blamed the use of "a new and most cruel bomb" used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki for Japan's surrender.
"Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in the ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation but would lead also to the total extinction of human civilization."

What the Emperor failed to mention however, was that the Allies had delivered Japan an ultimatum to surrender on 28th July 1945.
When this was ignored, the US dropped two atomic bombs on Hiroshima on 6th August and Nagasaki on 9th August, the day that Soviet forces invaded Manchuria.
The Allies celebrated victory over Japan on 15th August 1945, although the Japanese administration under General Koiso Kuniaki did not officially surrender with a signed document until 2nd September.
Both dates are known as VJ Day.
If VJ Day marked the end of World War II, what of the six long years of bitter conflict that would ultimately lead to these celebrations?

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