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15 August 1945
Volume 413

Prime Minister's Announcement

4.5 p.m.

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Mr. Speaker, at midnight last night the terms of the Japanese surrender were announced to the world. The House will, I trust, bear with me while I repeat them, for I feel that it is fit and proper that they should be for ever on record in the annals of this ancient and honourable House. They are as follow:

"With reference to the announcement of 10th August, regarding the acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration and the reply of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China, sent by Secretary of State Byrnes on the date of 11thAugust, the Japanese Government has the honour to communicate to the Governments of the four Powers as follows:
  • '(1) His Majesty the Emperor has issued an Imperial rescript regarding Japan's acceptance of the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration.
  • (2) His Majesty the Emperor is prepared to authorise and assure the signature by his Government and the Imperial General Headquarters, of the necessary terms for carrying out the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration.
  • (3) His Majesty is also prepared to issue his command to all military, naval, and air authorities of Japan and all the forces under their control, wherever located, to cease active operations, to surrender arms, and to issue such other orders as may be required by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces for the execution of the above-mentioned terms.'—(Signed) Togo."
  • Thus the long, grievous war is at an end, and peace on earth has been restored. To each of us at this time there will come many memories and thoughts; to each of us at this time there will also come the wish to pay our tributes to those who have, in a lesser or greater degree, contributed to this final and complete victory. There will be time and occasion for these, but one feeling, I am sure, predominates in all our hearts, the feeling of gratitude to Almighty God for this great mercy. I think, therefore, that the House will wish forthwith to go to the Church of St. Margaret's to render thanks, and I propose to submit to the House a Motion to this effect a little later.

    But this departure from our time-honoured procedure involves certain alterations of Business. Instead of taking into consideration the Gracious Speech from the Throne to-day, I suggest that we should, on returning, after Mr. Speaker has read the Gracious Speech, consider an Address of Congratulation to His Majesty which I will propose. Following that, we shall ask the House to consider a Motion to alter the hours of sitting so that we may meet to-morrow at 2.15 p.m. I may say that for the present we propose to continue the arrangements which were in operation towards the end of last Session. To-morrow, after the Sessional Orders have been read and passed, the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech will be moved and seconded, and Debate will arise.

    I must also inform the House that it is the intention of the Government to propose a Motion to take the whole time of the House for Government Business, and to provide for the presentation of Government Bills only. We suggest that the Debate on the Address be adjourned about 6 p.m. to-morrow in order to consider this Motion which, but for the alteration of the arrangements, would ordinarily have been taken as the first Order that day.

    I beg to move,
    "That this House do now attend at the Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, to give humble and reverent thanks to Almighty God on the victorious conclusion of the war."

    Question put, and agreed to nemine contradicente.

    4.15 p.m.

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    I propose to proceed at once to St. Margaret's and I invite the House to follow. I will go first with the Mace; then I invite Privy Councillors to follow in fours, as far as may be, in order of precedence, and then the rest of the House will fall in behind. After the Service, the House will return to the Chamber in the same order of procession, and by the same route.

    I should like to mention to the House a strange coincidence. We met to-day, 15th August, in St. Stephen's Hall. Curiously enough, the last time the House of Commons sat in St. Stephen's Hall, was on 15th August, in years ago exactly.

    Service Of Thanksgiving

    Whereupon Mr. Speaker and the Members proceeded to the Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, and attended a Service of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.

    Order Of Service

    The Speaker of the, House of Commons, preceded by the Serjeant at Arms bearing the Mace, entered the Church in procession by the West door.

    The congregation being assembled, there was sung:

    The National Anthem

    Then the Speaker's Chaplain (Rev. Canon Don, D.D.), moved the congregation to Thanksgiving and Dedication, in the words following:

    "Brethren, it is with full hearts that we gather here to-day to give thanks for the victorious ending of the war.

    As is meet and right, we lift up our hearts in thanksgiving to God, saying, 'The Lord hath done great things for us whereof we rejoice.'

    And as we humbly acknowledge that it is by his over-ruling providence that our cause has prevailed, so we thank him for all those through whom this mighty deliverance has been wrought. We thank him for the gift of great leaders: for the valour of our sailors, soldiers and airmen: for the devotion of the men of the Royal Merchant Navy: for the gallantry of those engaged in civil defence: for the courage and endurance of our people throughout our Commonwealth and Empire: and for the self-sacrifice of all who have laid down their lives for their friends.

    And inasmuch as we know that the fruits of victory have yet to be gathered in, we would here pledge ourselves afresh to the ordering of the world in righteousness and peace, praying God so to fill us with his spirit that we may be worthy instruments in his hand for the fulfilment of his purposes for our country and for mankind.

    Let us therefore join in giving glory to God, and in dedicating ourselves to his service in the coming years."

    There was then sung, by the whole congregation, "The Old Hundredth":

    "All people that on earth do dwell,
    Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice;
    Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
    Come ye before him, and rejoice.
    O enter then his gates with praise;
    Approach with joy his courts unto;
    Praise, laud, and bless his name always,
    For it is seemly so to do.
    For why, the Lord our God is good:
    His mercy is for ever sure;
    His truth at all times firmly stood,
    And shall from age to age endure.
    To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
    The God whom heaven and earth adore.
    From men and from the angel-host
    Be praise and glory evermore."

    The First Lesson:

    Isaiah Lxi 1–4 And 11

    Then, the congregation remaining seated, was sung by the Choir the Metrical version of Psalm 124, to the tune "Old 124th":

    "Now Israel may say, and that truly,
    If that the Lord had not our cause maintain'd;
    If that the Lord had not our right sustain'd,
    When cruel men against us furiously
    Rose up in wrath, to make of us their prey;
    Then certainly they had devour'd us all,
    And swallow'd quick, for ought that we could deem;
    Such was their rage, as we might well esteem.
    And as fierce floods before them all things drown,
    So had they brought our soul to death quite down.
    The raging streams, with their proud swelling waves,
    Had then our soul overwhelmed in the deep.
    But bless'd be God, who doth us safely keep,
    And hath not giv'n us for a living prey
    Unto their teeth, and bloody cruelty.
    Ev'n as a bird out of the fowler's snare
    Escapes away, so is our soul set free:
    Broke are their nets, and thus escaped we
    Therefore our help is in the Lord's great name.
    Who heaven and earth by his great power did frame."

    The Second Lesson:

    Ephesians Iv 1–6

    The Hymn following was then sung:

    "Lord, while for all mankind we pray
    Of every clime and coast,
    O hear us for our native land,
    The land we love the most.
    O guard our shores from every foe;
    With peace our borders bless;
    With prosperous times our cities crown,
    Our fields with plenteousness.
    Unite us in the sacred love
    Of knowledge, truth, and thee;
    And let our hills and valleys shout
    The songs of liberty.
    Lord of the nations, thus to thee
    Our country we commend;
    Be thou her refuge and her trust,
    Her everlasting friend."

    Then the congregation knelt and joined in saying The General Thanksgiving:

    "Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen."

    After remembrance had been made of those who had laid down their lives, the congregation rose, and sang the Hymn following, to the tune "St. Anne":

    "O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Our shelter from the stormy blast,
    And our eternal home;
    Under the shadow of thy throne
    Thy saints have dwelt secure;
    Sufficient is thine arm alone,
    And our defence is sure.
    Before the hills in order stood,
    Or earth received her frame,
    From everlasting thou art God,
    To endless years the same.
    A thousand ages in thy sight
    Are like an evening gone,
    Short as the watch that ends the night
    Before the rising sun.
    O God, our help in ages past,
    Our hope for years to come,
    Be thou our guard while troubles last,
    And our eternal home."

    The Blessing

    At the conclusion of the Service, The Speaker, preceded by the Serjeant at Arms bearing the Mace, left the Church by the West door.

    Whereupon the bells of St. Margaret's Church were rung, in celebration of Victory.

    The House having returned——