Victory on Film
To mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific and the end of the Second World War – 15 August 1945 – the Memorial will be sharing stories, photos and information about Australian service. Here is a selection of film and photographs related to VP Day and the Second World War.
Audience with Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and Australian Second World War veteran Les Cook
In the lead up to the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal held a video call with Second World War veteran Mr Les Cook. During the video call, Les regaled Her Royal Highness with his experiences serving as a Corporal in the Australian Army from 1940 and 1947. The backdrop for the zoom call was a Second World War gallery at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
In preparation for Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day), the then Prime Minister Ben Chifley made it known to Federal Cabinet that the celebrations should see, as one newspaper put it, the Australian public “give vent to their jubilation and hold appropriate organised celebrations.” These selected series of photographs, whilst a small collection within the Australian War Memorials Photographic collection, capture a look into this period of both unbridled joy and celebration, coupled with the sombre commemoration which seized Australians, as the nation waved goodbye to The Second World War and welcomed the idea of peace.
On 16 August 1945, a National Thanksgiving Service was held in front of the Australian War Memorial to mark Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day). A reported crowd of 5000 people gathered to witness the ceremony and commemorate the end of the Second World War.
The occasion is well-represented within the collection of the Australia War Memorial. Through photographs, recordings, artworks and ephemera, it is possible to get a glimpse into the events of this significant day – even 75 years later.
Melbourne’s Victory in the Pacific Parade
This home movie of the 20,000 strong parade was shot on 24 August 1945, by Flight Sergeant James Pollitt.
Despite the cold and rainy weather, crowds took up every available vantage point including flights of stairs, window ledges, even the sideboards of parked cars. The parade was, as one local constable said, “possibly the biggest crowd I’ve seen at a march”. Apparently some complaints had been levelled at Melbournians regarding a lack of enthusiasm during previous marches, however The Age of August 25 reported that “the crowds sustained loud and spontaneous cheering throughout the two hours” of the parade.