EAGLEHAWK resident Pierce Grenfell remembers exactly where he was was when the war with Japan finished 75 years ago this Saturday.
The World War Two veteran was at Bougainville on 15 August 1945 when word reached soldiers that peace had been declared.
Mr Grenfell was part of a 30,000 strong Australian force fighting to reclaim the volcanic island between Papua new Guinea and the Solomon Islands from Japan.
"It was accepted, maybe a 'hip-hip-hooray' from some, but there wasn't a big celebration among the people around me," he said.
It was a markedly different reaction to the war's end than in Bendigo, where people danced in the streets and celebrated well into the evening.
"I just hoped the Japs knew about it, we weren't very far away from them," Mr Grenfell said, referring to enemy soldiers dug in on the other side of the island.
Lines of communication were poor on Bougainville, even for Allied forces.
"We had very little news or contact with the outside world," Mr Grenfell said.
Japanese soldiers on the island surrendered that day.
Australians on the home front had been following world events more closely.
Japan had capitulated after the United States had dropped atomic bombs on two of its empire's cities in a move that effectively forced the end of the war.
Within a week, a war that could have stretched well into 1946 and resulted in huge losses of live as Allied forces invaded Japan's mainland was over.
Mr Grenfell's wife Olga worked at one of the Bendigo businesses completely transformed in the war years.
"We were supposed to be making a lot of garments for women but ended up making a lot of things for soldiers until the war ended," she said.
Many of those who worked there had friends and family serving overseas.
A copy of the Bendigo Advertiser published in the days after the war ended describes how many women, especially, opted for a quiet night with friends, rather than celebrate with the crowds in Bendigo and Eaglehawk.
Many, it noted, wanted to save their rations for the moment people serving in the armed forces returned home.
Bendigo RSL president Peter Swandale thanked the servicemen, servicewomen and civilians who helped their country during World War Two.
He also thanked those Australians taken prisoner during the war, many of whom suffered because of malnutrition and disease.
"Today and every day, we as a nation must continue to support all veterans and their immediate family, particularly those who have suffered due to war or their military service," he said.
Mr Swandale also highlighted the work of current servicemen and women fighting the pandemic alongside nurses, doctors and police.
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