Victory in the Pacific Day (VP Day): History in Focus

This education resource encourages student inquiry learning and discussion in the classroom. 'Fellow citizens, the war is over.' These words of Prime Minister Ben Chifley, spoken over the wireless on the morning of 15 August 1945, became a defining moment in the 20th century. Use this printable postcard to engage your students.

Series: History in Focus
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'Fellow citizens, the war is over.'

Few words spoken in Australia's history have triggered such spontaneous displays of emotion as these words of Prime Minister Ben Chifley, spoken over the wireless on the morning of 15 August 1945. His was one of many announcements by world leaders declaring an end to World War II. Japan had surrendered.

This was a defining moment in the twentieth century. The war had been the most far-reaching and devastating in history. From its start with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, the war spread across Europe into north Africa, the Middle East and the world's oceans. Then, when Japan entered the war in December 1941, its forces swept across tracts of Asia and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It took the Allied nations until May 1945 to achieve victory in Europe and another three months for victory in the Pacific. By the time the last bombs were dropped, and the last shots were fired, perhaps 50 million men, women and children had lost their lives as a result of the war.

The day on which this conflict ended is most commonly and popularly remembered for its scenes of jubilation in cities and towns around the world. In Allied nations, photographers recorded thousands of people pouring onto the streets, cheering, hugging and kissing, singing and dancing, waving flags, dropping confetti from buildings, and unfurling banners proclaiming the simple messages of VICTORY and PEACE.

The Australian Government further marked the occasion by legislating a one-off public holiday, declaring it Victory in the Pacific Day, or VP Day. Others knew it as Victory over Japan Day, VJ Day. Both terms were acceptable to Australians at the end of that long war - all that mattered was that the war was over.

Jubilant crowds celebrate VP Day in the streets of Sydney, August 1945. (SLV 012975)

Copyright

Department of Veterans' Affairs 2020
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