VE Day: The End of World War II in Europe

VE Day is a national holiday in many countries. It commemorates the day the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Queen Elizabeth II has delivered a speech on the 75th anniversary of VE Day from Windsor Castle, her second address to the nation during the coronavirus lockdown.

The speech was broadcast at 9pm, the exact time her father, King George VI, made his radio address to the nation in 1945 to announce victory in Europe and the Nazi defeat. In an historic address, Her Majesty assured Britons: ‘Better days will return; we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.’ Prince Charles and Camilla lead the nation from Balmoral Castle, Scotland, with two minutes silence at 11.00 to commerate VE Day’s 75th Anniversary.

On 8 May, many people will turn their minds to the 75th anniversary of VE Day. In the very early hours of May 7, 1945, officials from the Allied high command accepted the surrender of Nazi Germany, marking the end of World War II in Europe. The following day, nations around the continent and the world celebrated the victory and the beginning of hard-won peace after years of war and hardship.

‘We shall never surrender’
Winston Churchill

Allied victory in the Second World War was achieved on the battlefields, but also in farms, shops and kitchens. The Ministry of Food introduced rationing and produced publicity to encourage members of the public to waste less and become more efficient and healthy in the way they cooked at home. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries was making Britain self-sufficient by increasing domestic production.

Victory in Europe Day was named to signify the end of combat operations in Germany, Scandinavia, Italy, Greece, the Balkan states and elsewhere on the continent during World War II.

When was VE Day?

In the aftermath of Adolf Hitler’s suicide on April 30, 1945, and the fall of Berlin on May 2, the end of the war was near and celebrations to coincide with the expected surrender of Nazi Germany had been planned for a while.

UK government cabinet minutes dated April 9, refer to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s request for these festivities to be known as “VE Day” However, the date does not mark the official end of World War II, as Imperial Japan did not surrender until Aug. 15, 1945. This date would become known as Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) or Victory in the Pacific Day.

At 2:41 a.m. local time on May 7, 1945, the US President received the Nazi government’s unconditional surrender which ordered “all forces under German command to cease active operations at 2301 hours Central European time, on 8 May.” This set the official date for VE Day.

How was VE Day celebrated?

Great Britain, the United States and several other countries celebrate Victory in Europe Day. Cities put out flags and banners, rejoicing in the defeat of the Nazis. When news of Germany’s surrender got out it resulted in spontaneous celebration and parties, it was also received with grim reflection on the terrible cost of lives in the war.

By 1945, Britain had struggled through six years of aweful wartime rationing and Nazi bombing, meaning everyone was keen to celebrate the long-awaited victory. The streets became packed with crowds of people wanting to celebrate. Even the Queen celebrated VE Day 75 years ago by dancing through The Ritz Hotel in plain clothes.

Since then, Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day has been celebrated and commemorated each year on May 8, with 2020 marking the 75th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Europe. However, the 75th anniversary of VE Day in 2020 public celebrations were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and The Royal British Legion calls on the nation to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day from home with doorways decorated with bunting and ‘stay at home’ celebrations instead.

Give Me the Money Spent in War

Give me the money that has been spent in war, and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens would be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. Charles Summer

We’ll Meet Again Tribute

Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again rang out across Britain as it marked Victory in Europe Day following The Queen’s broadcast. We’ll Meet Again is considered one of the most poignant and inspiring songs of the Second World War, Dame Vera Lynn would sing it to soldiers as she travelled during the war.

Now 103 years old, Dame Vera was born on March 20, 1917 in London and her singing career was already flourishing when war broke out in 1939. She was awarded the title Forces’ Sweetheart following a poll in the Daily Express, and travelled thousands of miles – often at great personal risk – to entertain the troops.

When the war was over she retired from the stage and microphone to bring up her daughter, at their home in Sussex, but she remained in demand. She toured throughout the world, visiting the US, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

We’ll Meet Again Lyrics

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Til the blue skies
Drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them it won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singin’ this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Never give up, never despair – that was the message of VE Day