In 1945 the news that Germany had surrendered was celebrated on 8th May as VE or Victory in Europe Day. Across Britain the long-awaited end to the war against Germany was marked with street parties and other public celebrations after nearly six years of war. Although, of course, it was not the end of the conflict as the war against Japan would continue for another three months. Nevertheless, huge crowds gathered in London, many congregating in Whitehall to hear Churchill speak, while many more were drawn to Buckingham Palace where King George and his family appeared on the balcony to greet the crowds.
Sadly, due to lockdown, all official events to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day have been cancelled. Nevertheless, lots of people across the country are preparing to mark the occasion from home. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate safely.
The key events that we can all share over the television are: a two minute silence at 11 am, a broadcast of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech at 2.45 pm, and the VE Day People’s Celebration – a musical tribute to the people of the World War 2 Generation – from 8pm, culminating in the Queen’s speech at 9pm. All the events have been organised in a collaboration between the BBC and the Royal British Legion, and will be broadcast on BBC 1.
People are also being encouraged to decorate their homes with bunting and many households are planning to hold parties in their gardens whilst still maintaining social distancing, and including only their own housemates.
Here at Calibre two of our volunteers have spoken of their memories 75 years on, as they remember a day of exuberant celebrations after the terrible loss and deprivations of the time. Jane who was 13 by the end of the war was living in Penarth, near Cardiff, at the time, while Mary who spent the war years in Leicester was 14. I spoke to them over the telephone, which you can listen to here, or wherever you normally listen to your podcasts.