This year, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Whilst celebrations and parties in the street will obviously not take place this year, the Covid19 pandemic does not stop us taking time out to remember.
VE Day in the UK
In the UK, a national two-minute silence will be held at 11am, and at 3pm, people are invited to raise a glass from their gardens and balconies and cheer the Heroes of World War Two. Picnics and barbecues in gardens, virtual celebrations on skype, FaceTime, Houseparty and zoom are also suggested. Check out www.veday75.org for other ideas and info.
At 9pm, there will be a pre-recorded speech by the Queen, broadcast at the exact moment that her father, King George VI, addressed the nation by radio on May 8 1945.
‘La Fête de la Victoire’ in France
Here in France, VE Day or ‘Victoire 1945’ is a national holiday, usually celebrated with church services, ceremonies and parades. Traditionally, the President lays a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysées. This year, the ceremony will still take place, with a very small group of civil and military representatives, and TV cameras to relay around the country.
Mayors have been told that they can choose to organise the laying of wreaths on local war monuments within the confines of lockdown rules.
On 8 May 1945, prime minister Winston Churchill announced:
Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight tonight, Tuesday the eighth of May….
German armed forces surrendered unconditionally on May 7. Hostilities in Europe ended officially at midnight, May 8. 1945.
Thousands gathered in the streets to celebrate the end of 6 years of war but of course, VE Day marked victory for Europe over Germany, but not the end of World War Two. Churchill continued…..
We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued. The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!
Many allied soldiers, sailors and airmen continued the fight, which continued until 14 August 1945, when two atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August).
The end to WW2 came on 15 August 1945, known as VJ Day, when Japanese leaders signed an official surrender.
World War Two was finally over – and what a cost!