The first POW relief flight to Sumatra saw the RAF’s 8 Squadron begin a series of vital mercy missions, writes Andrew Thomas

Japan’s surrender was welcome news for Allied POWs, but they still faced weeks, if not months, of hardship

The men might have fancied some much-needed downtime or at least looked forward to a reduction in duties and lengthy sorties. However, the unexpected Japanese surrender in August 1945 actually resulted in a marked increase in activity for the RAF’s long-range Special Duties squadrons.

The fighting was officially over, Japan coerced into submission by the destruction of two of its cities by the dropping of the atomic bombs. Yet there was much territory to reoccupy, hundreds of thousands of Japanese troops to disarm and repatriate, and, of course, the question of the many Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen – plus civilian internees – who had endured the hardships and privations of Japanese incarceration.

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