VE Day 75th Anniversary
Friday 8th May 2020
The Day That Marked The End of the War in Europe
Tuesday 8 May, 1945, was an emotional day that millions of people had been waiting for. Many people were extremely happy that the fighting had stopped and there were big celebrations and street parties. Huge crowds - with lots of people dressed in red, white and blue - gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London. They cheered as King George VI and his family, including Princess Elizabeth (the current queen) and Princess Margaret, came out onto the balcony to greet everybody. Princess Elizabeth and her sister were allowed to leave the palace and celebrate with crowds outside, although they had to do it secretly. The future Queen described it as "one of the most memorable nights of my life". Many people also attended church services to thank God for the victory. London's St Paul's Cathedral held 10 services, which were attended by thousands of people.
But VE Day was also a moment of great sadness and reflection, as millions of people had lost their lives or loved ones in the conflict. Recently broadcaster Deutche Welle (DW) wrote: around the world, nations celebrate VE Day as a defeat of Nazi Germany. But in Germany, VE Day is both a day to remember victims of fascism and a moment to celebrate freedom from fascism.
A Day To Remember
The scenes of celebration witnessed in London were repeated around the world, even as the war continued against Japan. In Paris, occupied during the war, there were salvoes of artillery and an address by General Charles de Gaulle. The correspondent for The Times described “beflagged streets filled with cheering people” and said that the partial blackout had finally been lifted. “All public monuments are floodlit, Paris is the City of Light again.” The bells in Vatican City pealed, while in Brussels a final all-clear of the air raid sirens sounded. In Moscow, reported the Associated Press, “Russians swarmed through Red Square shouting ‘Long Live Stalin’ and ‘Hurrah for Victory’.”
Across the Atlantic, New Yorkers gathered en masse in Times Square, dancing, singing and throwing torn up newspapers as a storm of celebratory confetti. Yet the mayor, Fiorello La Guardia – in a more sombre mood – asked people to return to work, saying: “Remain on the job as a token of respect and support for the men dying at this very moment in the Pacific.” Australians similarly felt the burden of the ongoing war, but still celebrated. The country heard of Germany’s surrender on the evening of 7 May, and, reported one newspaper, “those still in the city night clubs and theatres took up the revelry, cheering and yelling”.
Even neutral countries saw scenes of jubilation, including in Sweden. Stockholm had a “carnival night” as exiled Danes and Norwegians danced on taxis, while in Iraq – the scene of heavy fighting in 1941 – parliament proclaimed five days of holiday to celebrate war’s end.
More than 1 million people celebrated in the streets of cities, towns and villages in the UK.
Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall, waiting for Winston Churchill, the wartime Prime Minister, and King George VI to make an appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
In the United States, Harry Truman, the President, dedicated the victory and celebrations to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died just a month before victory in Europe was achieved. Celebrations took place in many US cities, including Chicago, Miami, LA and New York.
VE Day did not mark the end to all of the fighting associated with World War 2. Japan didn’t surrender until 15th August 1945 (or 14th August, depending on time zones). Japan officially signed surrender documents on 2nd September 1945, effectively bringing World War 2 to a close. This is celebrated as V-J Day (Victory over Japan).
The harsh reality of WW2
World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. An estimated total of 70–85 million people perished, which was about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion).
Deaths directly caused by the war (including military and civilians killed) are estimated at 50–56 million people, while there were an additional estimated 19 -28 million deaths from war-related disease and famine.
This Parish remembers the 27 men that died in WW2:
Charles Henry Ackroyd
Kenneth George Edwards
John P Haigh
William Harold Johnson
George Henry Rylands
John James Stubbs
Frank D Wolsey