Leeds nostalgia: As Japan prepares to surrender, how West Yorkshire Regiment came to be in Yorkshire

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Defeated Japan was poised to sign her surrender aboard the US warship Missouri on September 2.

And in an intriguing precursor to the modern age - when seemingly everything under the sun is broadcast instantaneously - it was announced the surrender process would be broadcast on the radio, with President Truman speaking from the warship.

The news came as 20,000 prisoners of war were released from five camps in Singapore, with 6,500 British among them.

Widespread abuse and torture was reported, including cases of stoning to death, being hung by the arms until the use of the limbs was lost, having steel bars put into the mouth and the mouth closed tightly and other atrocities. All were said to have been carried out by the Japanese, mainly on American soldiers.

Meanwhile, back in Leeds, thousands gathered in City Square to see the Lord Mayor, Alderman C V Walker, confer the Freedom of the City on the West Yorkshire Regiment.

Large crowds gathered long before the ceremony even began to get a good position to watch the regiment march with fixed bayonets and drums beating through some of the city’s main streets.

The regiment was raised in 1685 and was later known as the 14th Foot.

In 1782 they became the Bedfordshire Regiment of Foot but in 1782 and according to the Yorkshire Evening Post (Saturday, September 1, 1945): “those responsible realised at last that this regiment must go to the best county in the country and so in that year it became the Prince of Wales Own West Yorkshire Regiment.”

Alderman Walker added: “And with us it has remained ever since.”

Hear, hear.

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