The Coronavirus pandemic restrictions on public gatherings made it difficult to hold commemorations to mark the end of World War 2 on 15 August, but a small Act of Remembrance Service was held at The War Memorial in Christie Park, Alexandria to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day. The surrender of Japan (Victory over Japan), three months after Victory in Europe, marked the end of all fighting in WW2.
A service of remembrance was held at the memorial in Christie Park attended by Maurice Corry TD MSP, a veteran himself having served as a Major in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and NATO seeing active service in Bosnia and Croatia and in support in Afghanistan; Lt Cdr Garth Atkinson RN representing the serving Armed Forces, Councillor Sally Page representing the West Dunbartonshire Council and Civilians and Hugh Spencer DL. The pipes were played by Mark Morrison who was piping at his first remembrance event.
The Commemoration Party were piped in to the Memorial to ‘Glengarry’s Lament’ and formed up facing the memorial. The Kohima Epitaph was read by Maurice Corry – ‘When you go home, Tell them of us and say, For your tomorrow, We gave our today’. Two minutes silence followed before Mark played ‘When the Battles O’er’ and Lt Cdr Garth Atkinson, Royal Navy read the Exhortation ‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them’. Maurice then laid the wreath as Mark played ‘Highland Laddie’ before the party saluted the memorial and marched out to ‘Dark Island’.
Maurice Corry TD MSP said “ The war in the Far East was brutal with millions of casualties and the ultimate sacrifice was made by hundreds of thousands of British and Allied forces, not to mention the suffering of those held in Japanese Prisoner of War and labour camps. It was enormously important that while a large gathering is impossible under the current circumstances we were able to hold a small ceremony today on behalf of the people of Alexandria, Balloch and the Vale of Leven to honour and remember those who fought and died for our freedom.”
Councillor Sally Page said, ‘Under the current circumstances I am glad we were able to still hold a small and very moving ceremony to honour the war dead. Mark Morrison played beautifully and we are very grateful to him for being the Piper. ‘
Throughout the day many local people came to pay their respects. Piper Colin Lawrie had played ’Heroes of Kohima’ at the War Memorials earlier in the day throughout the area. Colin’s father Ian Lawrie was the Remembrance Day Piper during the 1950s and 1960s and Colin himself fulfilled the role between 1962-1968.
Individual Acts of Remembrance was made at war memorials throughout the area. One of these was in Helensburgh in memory of Captain Thomas Somerville Burnet, who died on Malaya on 18 January 1942 aged 32 and is buried in Kranji Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Singapore. He served with the Royal Engineers and was attached to the 13th Field Company of Queen Victoria’s Own Madras Miners and Sappers.