What is Victory in Europe (VE) Day?
VE Day falls on the 8th May and marks the time the fighting against Nazi Germany in Europe came to an end in World War II. This year in 2020 we are marking the 75th anniversary since the guns fell silent.
On 8th May 1945, the Prime Minister Winston Churchill made an announcement on the radio at 3pm to declare that the war in Europe had come to an end, as Germany had surrendered the day before.
Although the war in Europe had come to an end we cannot forgot those who were still in conflict until the 15th August 1945, when Japan had then surrendered to the Allies, finally ending Word War II (know as Victory in Japan Day, or VJ Day).
Why do we celebrate VE Day?
VE Day celebrations will place this year during 8th – 10th May. The 75th anniversary will provide the opportunity for our nation and those around the world to reflect and remember the sacrifice, courage and determination of everyone who fought or helped to support the war effort.
It was not just the Armed Forces and Merchant Navy from many countries who gave their lives or returned home injured in body and mind. There was also a huge effort on our home-front from the nation stepping up to help the country; women and men who operated the factories, farms, mines, and shipyards, ARP wardens, local defence volunteers, the home guard, police officers, doctors, nurses, fireman and many others.
During the war times were hard as people lost their loved ones and friends, or were separated from them for lengthy times. Many citizens took on different jobs to support the home front and rationing made for difficult times.
Once VE Day was announced in 1945 it was a chance for the country to celebrate the end of their hardship. Huge crowds turned out in London and across the UK to celebrate, with street parties taking place locally in many communities.
How can I celebrate VE Day in 2020?
Due to the unprecedented situation with Covid-19 many of the original national celebrations over the Bank Holiday weekend have been cancelled. However there are still many ways you can join in and celebrate from the safety and comfort of your own home! These include:
- Decorating your home with themed bunting, posters, pictures and flags. There’s some great templates and resources here: BBC’s Great British Bunting, VE Day Resources, Reading Museum Party Pack, RBL Activity and Learning Pack, NMITE Bunting and Resources
- Doing a doorstep salute at 8am – many military personnel and veterans are taking part (Reservists, cadets, RFCA staff – send us your photos!)
- Take part in the national two minutes silence at 11am – whether this is from your doorstep, living room or garden, it’s a chance to reflect and remember.
- Hold a virtual street party or tea party in your home (in-line with social distancing!). Some great free party packs/resources can be downloaded here: Bletchley Park Party Activity Pack, English Heritage Party Pack, Combat Stress Party Pack
- A reminder of virtual ways to commemorate VE Day 75: SSAFA Art Competition, RBL VE Day Singalong and livestream, Imperial War Museum resources, RAF Museum virtual VE Day and English Heritage celebrations
- The Royal British Legion also have a great programme of events you can watch or get involved with during the day
Stay safe, have fun and take a moment to reflect!