By Anne Tsang.
Like any major city and town in Australia, Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day has been commemorated in the City of Parramatta since 1945 marking the end of the Second World War. On 15 August 2020, to commemorate the 75th anniversary, the City of Parramatta Council is conducting a research and commemorative project to mark this significant day in history.
The following is a chronological account of VP Day being commemorated in Parramatta:
1945 - Inaugural Victory Celebration in Parramatta
The first official VP day celebrations in Parramatta commenced on the second day of the proclaimed holiday by the Prime Minister Ben Chiefly. As promoted in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate (15 August 1945, page 1), victory celebrations were to be scheduled on 16 August 1945, starting at 11am with a Thanksgiving service at the Parramatta Town Hall.
This was to be followed at 2pm with a procession march across the city from Campbell Street to the Cumberland Oval via Church and Ross Streets. Bishop Hilliard gave an opening address and events for the children and family were planned for.
Soon the boys and girls were to be welcomed home.
1946 – Official Victory Celebrations
Victory Celebrations marking the defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan in World War Two for the British Commonwealth, Empire and Allied victory celebrations took place from 8 June 1946 in London. For Parramatta Council, at the request of the ex-servicemen and women, plans were scheduled for the Victory Celebrations from Saturday 8 to Monday 10 June, with business premises asked to decorate and use neon lighting to promote the Victory weekend event.
A Victory Fair was held at Parramatta Park on Monday with Bishop Hilliard kicking off the event on Sunday delivering a thanksgiving service address to about 200 people in attendance. Many wreaths were laid on the War Memorials in commemoration and respect. Novelty and vaudeville events, as well as catering which included 12,000 cakes, 8,000 pieces of fruit and 750 pounds of mixed sweets was organised at the carnival for the local children and their family.
At Rydalmere Oval, a procession march and sports programme was organised on the Sunday. The marchers included Ermington-Rydalmere R.S.L. and Women’s Auxiliary, Ermington-Rydalmere Parents and Citizens Association, Ermington-Rydalmere Progress Association, the Boys’ Club on a novelty float, the Girls’ Clubs, the local Fire Brigade, Ermington-Rydalmere Council and children from Ermington and Rydalmere Schools. The children also received Victory medallions. A ball was also organised where ex-servicemen and ex-servicewomen were presented with honor scrolls by Ermington and Rydalmere Council.
1948 - Third Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
On Sunday 15 August 1948, the Parramatta Sub-branch of the Legion of Ex-Servicemen arranged for the biggest VP day commemoration in the district. This was due to the general belief that there should be a special day to remember the fallen of the Second Great War and secondly to the growth of the Legion in Parramatta. A VP social event was held on Thursday 12 August with tickets.
1949 - Fourth Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
On 15 August 1949, Parramatta Legion sub-branch held a VP Day ceremony at the Parramatta Cenotaph. Members of the Legion and Parramatta Regiment first assembled at the Lancer Barracks before the marching procession was led by Mr Howard Beale, M.P. to the Cenotaph. A brief service was conducted by the Reverend C. T. Judd followed by Mr Beale's oration:
"We are gathered here today to celebrate the victory which crowned our arms in the Pacific theatre of war four years ago, and to commemorate the brave men and women who gave their lives during the war. We sometimes forget that the war itself started in September, 1939. It is to Australia's eternal honour that she entered the conflict then, side by side with Great Britain, and that her sailors, soldiers, and airmen fought with gallantry and distinction in Europe and Africa. The battles fought in those early days form a glorious part in our growing national story. When Japan struck in the Pacific it was natural that we should thereafter be primarily concerned with the struggle in that area, and it was therefore in the Pacific that Australia's greatest effort was made. It was an honourable and magnificent contribution to the successful issue of the conflict, and the deeds of those who fought and wrought in Malaya, Timor, New Guinea, and in the air and on the season those regions; also become part of our national tradition. For those who fought and did not return, the task is over and all the trumpets have sounded for them on the other side, but for us who remain another task remains we must bend ourselves with our utmost energy to the task of preserving the free and democratic way of life which is our heritage, and for which our comrades died. History shows us that liberty is never secure; it must be constantly struggled for. All of us here must play our 'full part' in, preserving our free institutions and developing the spirit of tolerance and fair play. Unless we do this, we will have won the war and lost the peace."
1957 - 12th Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
On Thursday night 15 August 1957, a Victory in the Pacific Ball was held in Parramatta City Hall. It was organised by the Parramatta State Conference of the Liberal Party to commemorate the day of cessation of hostilities in the Pacific war and raised £70 for Legacy. The Ball was officially opened by Brigadier F. G. Galleghan, former C.O. of the 2/30th Battalion which served in the Malayan campaign.
1995 - 50th Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
On the 50th anniversary of VP Day, the government of Prime Minister Paul Keating decreed that from 15 August 1995, shall be known as V-P Day (for Victory in the Pacific). For years, Australians, like Americans, have called the anniversary V-J Day (for Victory over Japan).
2005 - 60th Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
The Regiment, Museum and Association hosted two free special celebrations in Parramatta funded by the Department of Veteran's Affairs and open to the community.
On Sunday 14 August 2005, a special Museum open day with a Pacific War Exhibition, featuring vehicles open for inspection, and guided tours of the Lancer Barracks, the Museum and the Vehicle collection from 10am to 4pm. The Regimental Band will give a concert at midday, with tea and scones. Invitations have been issued to the local schools, and advertisements placed in local newspapers. Veterans are invited to be present.
On the evening of VP Day Monday 15 August, the 60th anniversary of the day Japan accepted surrender terms, there will be a wreath laying ceremony at Lancer Barracks followed by drinks in the Officers' and Sergeants' messes. All local veterans are invited, those who saw service in the Pacific Campaign will be presented with 60th Anniversary Medallions (those to receive a medal will have received a letter from the local member's office). The service will commence at 18:00 and should take about an hour.
2020 - 75th Anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta
To mark the 75th anniversary of VP Day in Parramatta, the City of Parramatta Council is seeking community members who have a significant historical account, story or historical items relating to VP Day. If you, your family members or friends are interested in participating in the project, please contact Civic Events at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rice, R. & Australian War Memorial. (n.d.). Men of Second Army Headquarters taking part in a Victory Loan March through the streets of Parramatta. Identified personnel: Lieutenant Colonel T. A. Goyne, Assistant Adjutant General (1); Captain D. B. Hunter (2); Major W. L. Christie (3); Nx18002 Captain D. Humphreys (6), 125470 [image]. Retrieved from https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/125470/?image=1
- Parramatta's victory celebrations (1945, August 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106131599 ; Tentative plans for victory celebration (1945, August 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106131591 ; Victory welcome home to service men (1945, August 22). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106129319 ; Victory celebrations in local districts : scenes of revelry and reverence : P'matta arrangements inadequate (1945, August 22). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page10009322 ; Girls now want to train for nursing (1945, September 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106133670 ; "Ban on all Japs." (1945, September 26). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article106134189 ; Combined religious service cut out this time. P'matta council's decision on victory celebrations. Would only "split the people" (1946, May 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105739560
- Plans for victory day at P'matta (1946, May 29). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105736402 ; Catering for kiddies on victory day (1946, June 5). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105741441 ; "Are salt of the earth" : Bishop lauds British people : Few attended victory service (1946, June 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105733407 ; V. day—kiddies' day (1946, June 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105733409 ; And some congratulations (1946, June 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105733400
- Big day at Rydalmere (1946, June 12). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105733408 ; Victory celebrations (1946, May 15). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105739656
- Legion news (1948, May 26). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105740676 ; Legion news (1948, June 23). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article105742926
- Beale Sounds Warning At V.P. Day Ceremony (1949, August 24). The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111529067
- Legacy helping : Pacific victory ball. (1957, August 14). The Cumberland Argus, p. 10. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132132695 ; Victory ball helps Legacy (1957, August 21). The Cumberland Argus, p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132130220
- Meisler, Stanley (1995, August 14). Australia Marks 50th Anniversary of WWII Victory : Remembrance: Debate flares over Japan’s refusal to give an unconditional apology for aggression, Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1995-08-14-mn-35038-story.html
- Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 17 August 2005, pp. 187-188 (Julie Owens, M.P). (Austl.). Retrieved from https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;db=CHAMBER;id=chamber/hansardr/2005-08-17/0220;query=Id:%22chamber/hansardr/2005-08-17/0000%22 or https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/genpdf/chamber/hansardr/2005-08-17/0220/hansard_frag.pdf;fileType=application%2Fpdf ; New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum (2005). Lancers' Despatch : Bi Annual Journal of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association and The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated, no. 9, August 2005, pp. 5-6. Retrieved from https://www.lancers.org.au/site/Lancers_Despatch_Aug_2005.php#vp ; Blackberry, John (2005). The Victory in Pacific March in Sydney Saturday, 13 Aug 2005, Lancers' Despatch : Bi Annual Journal of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association and The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated, no. 10, February 2006, pp. 5-6. Retrieved from http://www.lancers.org.au/documents/Newsletters/feb_06/Newsletter.pdf ; Howells, John (ed.) (2006). Victory in the Pacific Celebrations Parramatta, Lancers' Despatch : Bi Annual Journal of the Royal New South Wales Lancers Association and The New South Wales Lancers Memorial Museum Incorporated, no. 10, February 2006, pp. 5-6. Retrieved from http://www.lancers.org.au/documents/Newsletters/feb_06/Newsletter.pdf
- City of Parramatta (2020). 75th Anniversary of VP Day Commemoration Project. Retrieved from https://www.cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/vp