15 August, 2020
VP Day Celebrations
Seventy-five years ago at 4 minutes past 9 o’clock, aboard the U.S.S. Missouri Japanese envoys Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu officially signed the Instrument of Surrender. The war against Japan in the Pacific was officially over.
The guns fell silent whilst the celebration grew in size
World War II in Cairns was a time of ration cards, restricted areas, censorship and backyard bomb shelters as the city was at the forefront of the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 and the general Pacific offensive during 1943.
Cairns region hosted a training base for American troops ahead of their deployment to New Guinea, critical oil supplies where stored at the Tanks, and there was even a bombing attack near Mossman.
Anti-aircraft gun emplacements were established along the Cairns foreshore and at False Cape, and every Sunday night police would sound the siren so residents could practice air raid procedures including wearing gas masks.
When the news came on 15 August 1945 that the war in the Pacific was over, Cairns residents joined Australian troops to turn out in their thousands in the city centre as the “town went delirious with joy”, according to The Cairns Post the next day.
For two hours the impromptu procession continued around Shields, Spence, Lake, and Abbott streets, gathering more trucks and vehicles as it went.
An official procession and ceremony was held in Cairns the next day (16 August) which drew one of the biggest crowds ever seen in the city.
Today, Cairns Mayor Bob Manning joined Cairns RSL president Peter Hayton to lay a wreath at the Esplanade Cenotaph to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific.