Brisbane celebrates Victory in the Pacific

The morning of August 15, 1945, saw scenes of wild celebration in Brisbane after Japan surrendered to the Allies. The Brisbane Telegraph┬ánewspaper reported that in the CBD “confetti showers from buildings started in earnest, car horns sounded, people hugged each other in the street and many stores immediately shut their doors”.

Rejoicing in Brisbane with the news of the Japanese surrender. 15 July 1945. Brisbane Telegraph

Rejoicing in Brisbane with the news of the Japanese surrender. 15 July 1945. Brisbane Telegraph

Newsboys were overwhelmed as people grabbed copies of the special edition as souvenirs, or used the paper as a convenient source of confetti. Some climbed out onto awnings and danced, while thousands spilled onto Queen St as traffic was diverted. At Roma St, “yelling youths” commandeered two trucks filled with fruit and started a fruit fight.

Cartoon published in The Courier Mail, 17 August 1945.

Cartoon published in The Courier Mail, 17 August 1945.

Acting premier Ned Hanlon announced “peace celebration holidays” would commence immediately. The following day a “Victory March” paraded through the city with more than 9,000 service personnel marching and an estimated 60,000 onlookers, some of whom climbed posts and traffic lights while others balanced on window ledges to get a better view. The governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, took the salute as the parade passed City Hall. A civic thanksgiving, arranged by Brisbane lord mayor John Beals Chandler, was held in King George Square that evening with thousands in attendance, entertained by fireworks and music from the Salvation Army’s Brisbane City Temple Band.
When the celebrations were over, the City Council had the daunting task of cleaning the streets. The Courier-Mail reported that more than “15 tons of torn-up paper were swept up” after the first day and that “another 12 tons is expected as a result of yesterday’s peace celebrations”.

Crowd gathers to celebrate on VJ Day in Brisbane, 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201315

Victory Parade in Brisbane, 16 August 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201315

Army band leads a procession of soldiers on VJ Day in Brisbane 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201317

Army band leads a procession of soldiers for the Victory Parade in Brisbane, 16 August 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201317

Soldiers march by the crowd on VJ Day in Brisbane 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201316

Soldiers march in Victory Parade, Brisbane, 16 August 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201316

Soldiers scaling a wall on VJ Day in Brisbane 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201318

Soldiers scaling a wall during the Victory Parade, 16 August 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201318

Young men attempt to reach a higher vantage point on VJ Day, Brisbane 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201319

Young men attempt to reach a higher vantage point, Brisbane 16 August 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 201319

Group of soldiers three men and two women celebrating V.J. Day Victory in Japan in the Botanic Gardens Brisbane. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 34286

Group of soldiers three men and two women celebrating V.J. Day Victory in Japan in the Botanic Gardens Brisbane. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 34286

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland