LONDON — As relatives of the fallen dabbed tears from their eyes, Queen Elizabeth II led ceremonies Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan during World War II, recalling the triumph and the pain of Britain's experience in Asia.
The monarch and other members of the royal family commemorated the event at a church service at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, and were joined by veterans of the conflict and former prisoners of war.
Many in the crowd wore war medals earned by their fathers and grandfathers — a proud show of remembrance from some who feel the war in Asia was largely overlooked by a country that focused on the Nazis in nearby Germany.
"I think it's very important to the veterans because they feel that they've been treated as the forgotten army," said Pauline Simpson, one of the organizers. "Their comrades that fought in Europe came home in May 1945 and they came back to a huge welcome and celebration.
"And for many people in the nation it was the end of the war. But in actual fact for all of the men still in the Far East in captivity, many of them didn't even know that the war had ended. And they didn't start returning home until three or four months later."
Classic British hymns such as "Abide with Me" rang out at the Horse Guards parade ground in London later in the afternoon as marines, sailors and soldiers remembered British operations in the Far East.
Veterans and internees — many of them now infirm — were joining members of the British military for a parade through central London toward Westminster Abbey. Hundreds of spectators were expected to cheer them on.