Sixty years ago, the Second World War ended with Japanese surrender. But while Flight Lieutenant Tony Rieck's squadron celebrated the news at their base in Burma, he himself was oblivious to it because he was flying a mapping mission.

Mr Rieck, 83, of Beech Hill Avenue, Hadley Wood, served for two years in the Far East and won the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) medal.

On Monday, the 60th anniversary of VJ Day, Mr Rieck attended a commemorative ceremony at the Imperial War Museum with Prince Phillip.

Recounting his experience of August 15, 1945, he said: "As soon as we landed, someone came rushing and said, The war's over.' "It was the end of the war that was the great thing."

But Mr Rieck almost did not live to see that day, because on one occasion his plane was nearly brought down by his own commander. In the thick of an attack on the Malay coast, the commander fired a bomb which bounced off an enemy ship and into Mr Rieck's aeroplane.

"We had just managed to get back from a raid with a bit of fuel left. We attacked a ship and our CO commanding officer was attacking from the opposite side, and one of his shells hit the deck and came back and ricocheted into us.

"It was an incendiary cannon shell. Luckily the fuse on it was damaged in hitting the deck of the boat, and so it didn't go off, but it was resting beside our fuel tank."

When asked about the way in which the war was brought to an end, with atomic bombs being dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mr Rieck paused to make a considered response.

"It's a very difficult question," he said.

"I have thought a lot about it. It certainly saved us an awful lot.

"I mean, the thought of trying to invade all those Japanese islands in the Pacific was horrific. I think the losses, particularly among the Americans, would have been horrific.

"We were, in, fact just getting ready to launch an invasion on Malaya, as it was then, and even that wouldn't have been very pleasant.

"It was a wonderful relief to feel the war had come to an end. Although when you look back at the loss in Japan, it's very difficult to totally justify it. I think, in the long-run, it was perhaps the right thing."