FLICKERING candles were floated down a canal as people from the Woking area remembered the hundreds of thousands who died when atomic bombs were used for the first time in war.

Members of Woking Action for Peace were commemorating the anniversary of nuclear weapons being used to destroy the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945.

As dusk fell, tealights in half grapefruit and orange skins were launched on the Wey Navigation at Send, at a time when similar events were being held in Japan and around the world.

Floating candles is a traditional Japanese ceremony used to commemorate the between 129,000 and 226,000 people, mainly civilians, killed when two bombs were dropped.

The ceremony on the towpath by the New Inn pub at Send is co-ordinated annually by the Woking Debates committee. Woking Action for Peace is the local branch of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which is involved in organising the debates.

“This year’s ceremony was particularly topical because the recently-released biopic film Oppenheimer suggests that dropping the atomic bombs was necessary to end the Second World War,” said Woking Debates chairman Keith Scott. “That’s not true, as pointed out by CND general secretary Kate Hudson.

“Her latest blog reveals that, by the time the first bomb was ready for use, Japan was looking for ways to surrender. Even prominent military commanders like General Dwight Eisenhower said ‘it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing’.

“The then British prime minister Winston Churchill said defeat of Japan was certain before the first bomb fell.”

Around 25 people, including Knaphill county and borough councillor Saj Hussain, the current chairman of Surrey County Council, attended this year's ceremony. 

There were readings of Kate’s blog and poetry before the tealights were launched on the canal.

“With Putin’s threat that he could use atomic bombs in Ukraine, and because the thousands of weapons that exist today are many times more powerful than the bombs that fell on Japan, we feel it’s important to continue reminding people of the horrors of nuclear weapons,” said Keith.