Victory In Europe Day VE Day Celebrations Black And White Flags Waving Union Jack Credit © IWM (HU 41808)

Credit © IWM (HU 41808)

WWII

How You Can Take Part In Celebrations For VE Day 75

The 75th anniversary of VE Day is on May 8, 2020, and here’s how you can get involved

Victory In Europe Day VE Day Celebrations Black And White Flags Waving Union Jack Credit © IWM (HU 41808)

Credit © IWM (HU 41808)

Although the official plans for the 75th anniversary of VE Day have had to be altered significantly due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are still lots and lots of events and activities planned for the occasion.  

The anniversary marks the day that Europe was liberated from Nazi Germany by Allied Forces in 1945.

The Allies had fought their way through Northern Europe engaging in ferocious battles with Hitler's forces for 11 months, following the D-Day Landings of June 6, 1944. 

The victory came about after the German Army were defeated and Hitler committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin. The following day, his successor signed Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allied Forces.

That day became known as Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day. 

The name 'VE Day' was actually planned in advance of the victory, with personalities including Winston Churchill openly referring to the event in the year building up to the momentous occasion. 

In the days following VE Day, more than a million people celebrated on the streets of Great Britain, including the future Queen, the young Princess Elizabeth, who famously sneaked out of Buckingham Palace with her sister, Princess Margaret, to join in with the rapturous celebrations at Trafalgar Square. 

Celebrations were held elsewhere around the world, too, including at Times Square in New York. 

Last year, the government announced that the May Day Bank Holiday would be pushed back by one week so that it could fall on the same weekend as the planned VE Day 75 celebrations.

Unfortunately, most official celebrations – including those with fireworks – have now been postponed.

Instead, organisers are hoping to hold those events in August when both VE and VJ (Victory over Japan) Days can be celebrated together.

But, there are still lots of things happening on Friday, May 8.

Here’s all you need to know, including some ideas from us on how you can mark the occasion in your homes …

HM The Queen

The BBC has announced that the Queen will address the nation on the day of the 75th anniversary. This special broadcast will coincide with the exact moment her father, King George VI, spoke to the country and Commonwealth three quarters of a century earlier, on the day victory was won in Europe. In 1945, the King opened his address by saying:

"Speaking from our Empire's oldest capital city, war battered but never for a moment daunted or dismayed. Speaking from London, I ask you to join with me in that act of thanksgiving. Germany, and the enemy who drove all of Europe into war, has been finally overcome." 

Her Majesty's address will broadcast on BBC One at 9pm on Friday, May 8, and be followed by the National Singalong.

The National Singalong To ‘We’ll Meet Again’

Immediately following the Queen's address, The Royal British Legion is holding a nationwide singalong to Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, which will also be broadcasted on BBC1.

The song We’ll Meet Again was written in 1939 and is considered one of the most recognisable songs of the Second World War.

It was a firm favourite among British soldiers deployed around the world on operations, and on the day of Victory in Europe in 1945, millions of people sung the song while jubilantly celebrating on the streets of Britain.

You can find the lyrics to the song on the RBL website.

Two-Minute Silence

A two-minute silence will be held across the country at 11am on the morning of VE Day 75. 

This national moment of remembrance will pay tribute to heroes of the past and present. Television coverage of the two-minute silence will be provided by BBC One. 

VE Day on BFBS

Across the BFBS Network, there is a wealth of entertainment and factual programmes planned to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Highlights of the Forces TV VE Day schedule include a Forces News Special and the 2020 Mountbatten Festival of Music. And on Monday, May 11, Forces TV will provide coverage of the American celebrations for VE Day, happening across the pond in the USA. 

To find out more, see the BFBS VE Day lineup here

The National Toast

The National Toast was intended to be held at pubs across the country following the government’s decision to extend licensing hours especially for VE Day 75.

Instead, we are being encouraged to take part in the event from our own homes.

The toast is intended to mark the moment guns fell silent across the European continent in 1945.

To take part in The National Toast, pour yourself a drink, or make a cup of tea, and raise it in honour of all those who brought about Victory in Europe, at 3pm on Friday, May 8.  

Listen To Sir Winston Churchill

As you prepare for the National Toast at 3pm, BBC One is broadcasting the war time Prime Minister's speech from 75 years ago. 

Back then, Sir Winston roused the nation's pride by speaking on the radio from the rooms of Downing Street. He said:

"Our gratitude to all our splendid allies goes forth from all our hearts in this island and throughout the British Empire."

The eight minute speech will be played in full at 3pm, the precise moment it was aired 75 years ago, with build-up from 2.45pm. 

Sir Winston Churchill V Sign 1954 CREDIT PA
Sir Winston Churchill led the British through the dark years of World War II. Credit: PA.

Leave An Online Tribute

Thanks to the Royal British Legion, you can leave an online message in tribute to those who brought about Victory in Europe 75 years ago.

Perhaps it’s a message to somebody in your family who is sadly no longer here, or maybe you just want to say thank you to all those lost in World War Two. Leaving a message for the world to see is a fitting and easy-to-do tribute that you can do from the comfort of your own home.

You can also read other tributes left by people from all over the world.

To leave yours, visit the RBL website.

Cook-up A 1940s Recipe In Your Kitchen

Like other organisations, English Heritage has had to postpone or call off many of their planned activities. But, they are still offering a downloadable pack to help you celebrate VE Day 75 at home in full-on 1940s style.

The pack includes dance moves to practice with partners or friends, and a Spotify playlist with music from the period, too.

For those who like to rustle up some magic in the kitchen, English Heritage have also included authentic 1940s recipes in the downloadable pack for you to experiment with and enjoy.

So, get cooking!

Download your pack from the English Heritage website.

Decorate Your Living Room With Bunting And Zoom

Video-conferencing with friends and family has become the norm during these coronavirus times. So, why not organisise a specially themed VE Day video call using Zoom on Friday, May 8?

To make your video call extra special, why not decorate your living room, or even just the space in front of your camera, with patriotic decorations? 

Union Jack bunting can be bought online from as little as £1.99, and VE Day themed posters are available at many online locations, ranging from £7 to £12 - if you can have it delivered in time. If not, you could make your own bunting perhaps?

Don't Forget To Send Us Your VE Day Memories

We are asking our audience to share with us any family memories you have of that momentous occasion 75 years ago, or of any VE Day celebrations you might have held since.

In 1995, the country marked the 50th anniversary by holding nationwide street parties and other commemorative events. Perhaps you have photographs from then?

Others might recall stories handed down from older generations of what it was like to be alive in 1945, as victory was secured. Please, get in touch and share those with us too. 

If you have anything to share, photos, memories, stories or experiences, please email them to [email protected]