Royal Air Force Red Arrows flying over the statue of Sir Winston Churchill on the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 080520 CREDIT MOD
VE Day

UK Falls Silent In Remembrance

The country observed a two-minute silence 75 years after the end of the Second World War in Europe.

Royal Air Force Red Arrows flying over the statue of Sir Winston Churchill on the 75th anniversary of VE Day. 080520 CREDIT MOD

The country was urged to draw on the "same spirit of national endeavour" from wartime as it deals with the coronavirus crisis.

Millions across the country paused at 11:00 on Friday morning to remember those who served in the Second World War and the price so many paid for freedom.

The poignant moment was led by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who each laid a wreath at a memorial near Balmoral.

Veterans and members of the public quietly reflected the commemoration in their own homes as the country continues to be in lockdown because of the coronavirus emergency.

75 years ago VE Day saw Britain and its Allies formally accept Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender after almost six years of war.

The COVID-19 lockdown makes huge gatherings like those of 1945 impossible, commemorations are taking place at home and online across the UK.

The RAF staged flypasts across the country, with the Red Arrows soaring through the sky above Buckingham Palace and the London Eye and Typhoon fighter jets flying over Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The anniversary will also be marked with wreath laying, virtual street parties and a national sing-a-long to Dame Vera Lynn's wartime classic "We'll Meet Again".

In a letter to veterans, the Prime Minister assured them that despite the ongoing lockdown, their efforts to defeat a "ruthless enemy" would not be forgotten.

"On this anniversary, we are engaged in a new struggle against the coronavirus which demands the same spirit of national endeavour that you exemplified 75 years ago," Boris Johnson said.

"We cannot pay our tribute with the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past; your loved ones may be unable to visit in person," he said in the letter.

"But please allow us, your proud compatriots, to be the first to offer our gratitude, our heartfelt thanks and our solemn pledge: you will always be remembered."

General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, told how long-planned ways to celebrate the anniversary had to be adapted due to coronavirus.

"We will do what we can to commemorate it visibly," he said.

"But of course it will be different and I think that’s tough for the veterans and all of those who have lived through the war because they would like to see a parade and they would like to be involved in that.

"So I think we should spare a thought for them having to commemorate and celebrate at home.”

A Spitfire flypast is also planned for a number of locations in the South East, including a veterans’ care home in Worthing, West Sussex and Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead.

At 21:00 the Queen will address the nation in a televised message – the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a speech over the radio three-quarters of a century earlier.

Cover image: The Red Arrows flying over the statue of Sir Winston Churchill on the 75th anniversary of VE Day (Picture: MOD).