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14 July 2020

On Friday 8 May this year, the nation commemorated the 75th Anniversary of VE Day under challenging lockdown conditions and I am writing in the first instance to thank all of those that reacted so positively and at in such short notice to ensure that the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation did not go unmarked within our communities. I also wanted to update you on preparations for the upcoming 75th Anniversary of VJ Day, as well as provide some sense of where we are in terms of planning for this year’s Remembrance Sunday ceremony.

On the 15th August 2020, the nation will commemorate VJ 75 and the recent easing of HMG social distancing restrictions means that we are now able to develop plans for a formal event centred around the Act of Remembrance at 11am. This year’s commemoration will be broadcast on BBC One from the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and will incorporate wreath-laying activity at several of the relevant memorials and artefacts linked to the WW2 campaign in South-East Asia.

In consequence, this will allow for a wider attendance than would normally be the case under extant social distancing restrictions although regrettably, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to allow for mass attendance by members of the public.

That evening on BBC One, there will be a second 90 minute broadcast based on a MoD-led commemorative programme from London.

Whilst the war against Japan was truly Tri-Service, it is worthy of note that the Fourteenth Army in particular, was notable for being the most diverse fighting force raised in modern times with less than 20% of those involved in fighting originating in the British Isles.

The coordinated effort of servicemen and women from over 40 countries very much reflected the diversity of the UK’s modern-day communities and organisations such as the Armed Forces and the Emergency Services and this theme will be integral to this year’s event programme.

The Royal British Legion is therefore asking all organisations and associations, both military and civilian, that share our commitment to remembering the service, suffering and sacrifice of all those involved in that most challenging of environments to either lead or participate in local activity centred on the Two Minute Silence at 11am on Saturday 15th August. The Legion strongly urges all those planning events to adhere to extant HMG and Local Authority guidelines on social distancing and to shape their commemorations in whichever way is most meaningful to their local community.

At this time of year, it would also be usual for the Legion to initiate proceedings in support of The Cenotaph Dispersal, the military veterans’ component of the traditional Remembrance Sunday ceremony on Whitehall. This year is the centenary of the unveiling of the iconic Whitehall war memorial, designed and built by Edwin Lutyens, and the Legion is working closely with all of the relevant HMG agencies to ensure that this year’s event can go ahead in some form.

Mindful that mass events are not permitted under current restrictions, a range of representative options are under consideration by HMG; the Legion will provide the relevant details as soon as we are able. Similar restrictions will also apply to community based remembrance activity and direction for these will be promulgated by the appropriate civil authorities.

Yours Aye,

Bob Gamble OBE Assistant Director of Commemorative Events

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