VE Day marks the end of one of the most devastating conflicts in modern history and the end of World War Two in Europe. Many people now, say, in their 80s and 90s, would have been children or teenagers at the time the official end of the conflict on the Western Front was declared on May 8, 1945. With that in mind, the nation’s collective memory of the historic moment becomes ever more distant with each passing year, despite the importance of the victory over Nazi Germany still being as relevant today to many of the freedoms we hold dear, as it was at the time.
This is why BFBS is now asking for people to share as many memories they have of the events of the day in 1945 as they can – to ensure the legacy of that historic moment is cemented and remembered for the momentous occasion that it was, and the impact it still has on all of our lives.
Celebrations to mark the occasion this year had been planned all over the country for the weekend of May 8 – May 10, but, due to the on-going Coronavirus restrictions, plans have had to be altered significantly. Last year, the government announced that the May Day Bank Holiday would be moved back by a week to account for the VE Day 75 celebrations. However, because of COVID-19, almost all of the nationally planned activities have been postponed until August when, instead, it is hoped both VE and VJ Days can be celebrated together. Many of us will still be marking the anniversary in our homes.
Allied forces spent almost 11 months of ferocious fighting through Nazi-occupied Europe following the landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, a date known as D-Day. The Germans were initially pushed out of France, but fighting continued throughout Belgium, the Netherlands and finally ended in Berlin in the Spring of 1945, while other battles took place in Italy.
Europe was eventually liberated and the date became known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day for short.
This year is the 75th anniversary when we will mark the historic moment that Winston Churchill described as a “victory of the great British nation.” Churchill said:
“This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole.
“We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny.”
We are asking you to send us any pictures, memories and experiences that either you, your parents or grandparents may have about this momentous occasion. Those special memories and pictures will help us share what VE Day means to you and will form part of our content across the BFBS network in the build-up to the anniversary on May 8, 2020. The memories in question may come from those who were there at the time to witness the celebrations themselves – street parties were thrown across Britain when communities up and down the country breathed a collective sigh of relief that war was over – or they could be received memories, passed on to younger generations by their parents or grandparents.
Stories shared among families, anecdotes about VE Day celebrations through the years, stories about older generations who were part of the war effort and how they marked the end of the war, or what their lives were like in the years following the end of the war, are all worthy of sharing now, in the 75th anniversary year of VE Day. We do not just want to hear from veterans and those who have memories of the day, or from those who would have been children who remember the street parties, but from others who have letters, diaries, photographs and other memorabilia in their families from the original day in 1945, or subsequent anniversaries.
Everyone has some kind of a story to tell about what VE Day means to them – and we want to hear all of them.
Maybe some younger people would like to get out their smartphones and ask their older relatives to tell them of their VE Day experiences while they film the conversation? Any moving, emotional, poignant or even humorous recollections of the historic events can be added to the memories. Millions of people across Britain and Europe took to the streets to rejoice in the news that Germany had surrendered, collectively relieved that the physical and emotional burden of life dealing with the daily toll of total war had finally come to an end.
There may be old photographs lurking in the family archives that give us a snapshot of the day?
Perhaps there are letters to relatives that families have kept that tell about the atmosphere or the mood of the moment?
Please do share whatever memories or memorabilia with us – by posting on our social media pages as this article is shared, or scanning them in and sending to us via email, so that we can share the stories they tell as part of our coverage of VE Day 75. To share your stories, pictures and memories of VE Day, please send us an email at [email protected] – or, share them on our social media channels when we post our VE Day stories.