Friday 8th May marks 75 years since Britain and its Allies formally accepted Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender, after almost six years of war. Victory in Europe (VE) Day pays tribute to the service of the armed forces abroad, and those who served on the home front.
On 8th May 1945, Winston Churchill announced on the radio that the war in Europe had come to an end. People across the UK took to the streets to celebrate. However, it was not until August that Japan surrendered. Winston Churchill said, “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.”
Although the coronavirus outbreak means that public events are unable to take place, people are nonetheless being encouraged to commemorate the day from their homes. In a service in Westminster, wreaths will be laid by Sir Lindsay Hoyle and Lord West on behalf of the Commons and the Lords. At 11am, the nation will observe a two-minute silence, and there will be a nationwide singalong to Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’ at 9pm.
Extracts from Churchill’s address to the nation will be broadcast on the BBC at 3pm, just as it was 75 years ago. A televised address from the Queen will also be broadcast on the BBC at 9pm, at the same time that King George VI gave a radio address in 1945. BBC Director General Tony Hall said, “At a time when many are looking for unity and hope, the BBC will bring households together to remember the past, pay tribute to the Second World War generation and honour our heroes both then and now.”
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has produced a VE pack for children, which includes homemade VE Day bunting, recipes, and games.
Armed forces charity, Royal British Legion Industries, have launched a ‘Tommy in the window’ campaign, encouraging people to display images of a World War Two soldier in their windows to show their support for veterans. Money raised from sales of commemorative products will go towards helping veterans into employment.