Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks, buildings and events from bygone days with today.

There’s a poignant story behind our main image of VJ Day celebrations in Birch Road, Crumpsall, on Wednesday August 15th 1945.

The woman in the white coat had just heard the overwhelming news that her son, believed to be missing in action in Japan, was alive and safe.

We’re not sure of the woman’s name, but her son was called James. The joy and relief on her face is clearly echoed right round the table.

Behind one side of the brick walls were the massive air-raid shelters used by the residents of Birch Road during the bombing raids of World War II.

News of Japan’s surrender actually broke on Tuesday August 14th, but most parties were held around Manchester and the rest of the country on the Wednesday.

Crowds cheered and sung in the rain in Albert Square as the Manchester City Police band played to mark the end of six years of conflict.

The VJ Day celebrations were mirrored across Europe as allied soldiers formed a conga line in London’s Regent Street and American and French troops paraded down the Champs Elysees.

The official surrender document was signed on September 2nd aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Our modern image, taken half a century later at the 50th commemoration of VJ Day, shows campaign medals proudly worn on the chest of a Japan veteran.

*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester on sale now at £14.99. Order your copy at inostalgia.co.uk or ring the order hotline on 01928 503777.

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