Today, May 8th 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. VE Day was the day that Britain and its allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany in the Second World War. The acronym, VE, stands for "Victory-in-Europe". The war in Europe had lasted 5 years and 8 months.
By the end of April in 1945 the allies had surrounded Berlin and on the 30th April Hitler committed suicide. Germany's new President sent a delegation to the HQ of British Field Marshal Montgomery to negotiate Germany's surrender. This resulted in the surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands, Denmark and NW Germany. A few days later, on the 7th May at his HQ in Reims, France, General Eisenhower accepted the unconditional surrender of all German forces. This was to come into effect on the 8th May - VE Day. Later that day on the 7th, radios in Britain broadcast-ed the news that everyone had been waiting for - the war in Europe was over. It was declared that the 8th May would be a public holiday so that people could celebrate. On the 8th May celebrations and street parties erupted across the country. People wore red, blue and white, sang, dance and attended church services to give thanks and remember all those who had suffered. VE Day of course was not the end of the war - fighting continued in the Far East and Pacific against Japan. The 15th August is know as VJ Day - "Victory-in-Japan" which marked the end of the Second World War.
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day our traditional Bank Holiday on Monday 4th May was moved to Friday 8th May and events and celebrations across the country were planned. Sadly with the coronavirus many of these have been cancelled however some continue and the public has been invited to mark the day in their houses and have picnics in their front garden. At 11am there will be a 2 minute silence across the nation to remember all those who were affected by the war and at 3pm the speech that Churchill gave to the nation on VE Day will be broadcast once again. The Queen will also make a rare address - marking the exact moment that her father, King George VI, addressed the nation over the radio. She and her sister, Margaret, were allowed to leave the Palace on VE Day and join in the public celebrations anonymously!
I recently met someone who had some of the original newspapers that were published on VE Day in 1945 and he kindly allowed me to take a photo so that I could share it with you. Below you can see the front page of a famous British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, that was sold and read across the country on May 8th in 1945!