Crowd of women and boys on factory trucks in Elizabeth Street; H98.101/304

On 15 August 2020, Australia commemorates the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

While 7 May 1945 marks the German surrender to Allied forces, and the end of the war in Europe, fighting in the Pacific continued.

On 14 August 1945, Japan accepted the Allied forces’ demand for unconditional surrender. For Australians, it meant that the war was finally over. By this time Australians had been at war for over 5 years, almost one million Australian men and women had served in the war effort, and approximately 40,000 lives had been lost.

The following day, Australian Prime Minister Ben Chifley addressed the nation at 9.30am Canberra time:

Fellow citizens, the war is over… Let us remember those whose lives were given that we may enjoy this glorious moment and may we look forward to a peace which they have won for us…Nothing can fully repay the debt we owe them…

August 15 was declared VP Day (Victory in the Pacific), referred to internationally as VJ Day (Victory over Japan).

This was the announcement everyone had been waiting for and two days of celebrations commenced. Melbourne has likely never seen such an outbreak of spontaneous rejoicing and mass celebration, as it did on VP Day.

Everybody hugged and everybody cheered, and everybody was just so important, it didn’t matter what colour, creed, age [you were] it just made no difference, we were all just one big happy family. [1]

These photographs give a sense of the jubilant relief that Victorians felt as they spilled out onto the streets in the thousands – to dance, embrace, sing, cheer, and give thanks – for what must have been one hell of a party.

Crowds in Bourke and Elizabeth Streets; H98.101/306

Woman with hat decorated with VP lettering; H98.101/330

The Herald, 15 August 1945, p.3.

Crowd around and on a Melbourne tram; H98.101/328

Aerial view of large crowd in front of the Shrine; H98.101/322

Women banging pails and ringing bells; H98.101/308

Soldier being kissed on both cheeks; H98.101/323

Crowd on steps of G.P.O.; H98.101/321

School children with flags at V.P. March at Albert Park; H98.101/303

Fireworks over river

Fireworks over river; H98.101/333

[1] Taken from interview featured in Victory in the Pacific YouTube video, Australia War Memorial.

Watch footage of the VP Day festivities on the Australian War Memorial YouTube channel below. Also see this excerpt footage from Movietone Special: Peace: Australia Celebrates (1945).

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This article has 1 comment

  1. Bernadette Renkin

    Learnt lots.

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