Leeds nostalgia: VJ Day celebrations in Leeds remembered

Leeds: 15th August 1945. An excited group of merry-makers celebrate VJ Day on Albion Street.
Leeds: 15th August 1945. An excited group of merry-makers celebrate VJ Day on Albion Street.
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Here’s a picture which might (just about) stir some memories.

It’s from August 1945 and it’s part of the VJ (Victory in Japan) Day celebrations which gripped not only the city of Leeds but the whole country.

The image was taken on August 15. It shows an excited group of merry-makers making their way down Albion Street. Elsewhere in the city, thousands thronged in the streets to celebrate the end of hostilities and the dawn of a new era, after six long years of bitter fighting.

On the left is a NAAFI Club (Navy,Army and Air Forces Institute), and judging by the number of people in uniform, it’s fair to say they may have come straight from there.

The clock on the wall in the centre is part of Leeds Industrial Co-op stores and of course, the Yorkshire Post and Evening Post had its old headquarters here. The building was right on the corner but the offices themselves snaked back like a warren into the buildings on either side, a maze of interlinking corridors and doorways.

It rained heavily for part of the day but this did not seem to dampen people’s spirits. The VJ Day celebrations went on into the small hours of the next morning, as people celebrated the outbreak of peace.

It came a few months after VE Day when the Second World War ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.

British Prime Minister Clement Atlee confirmed the news in a broadcast saying, “The last of our enemies is laid low.”

He expressed gratitude to Britain’s allies, in Australia and New Zealand, India, Burma, all countries occupied by Japan and to the USSR. But special thanks went to the United States “without whose prodigious efforts the war in the East would still have many years to run”.

Do you have memories of celebrating either VE or VJ day in Leeds? If so, please let us know by getting in touch at the usual address.