Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Video: VE Day - "We will remember them"

 Churchill announcing the end of World War II in Europe

In Whitehall, an RAF officer and two members of the Women's Royal Air Force and a civilian celebrate on VE Day 1945.
Photograph: Keystone

From the BBC:

1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has officially announced the end of the war with Germany.

In a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 yesterday at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.

Huge crowds, many dressed in red, white and blue, gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London and were cheered as the King, Queen and two Princesses came out onto the balcony.

Earlier tens of thousands of people had listened intently as the King's speech was relayed by loudspeaker to those who had gathered in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.

In it he paid tribute to the men and women who had laid down their lives for victory as well as to all those who had "fought valiantly" on land, sea and in the air...

Much more, with some great links, here.

VE Day: 8th May 1945 as it would have happened

We relive the first VE Day celebrations on 8th May 1945, updating you on events as they unfolded on that historic day

Street parties in Nottinghamshire Picture: NEMPR Picture the Past/Heritage Images/Getty Images and PA

13:00Reports are coming in of a shortage of flags across this now bedecked nation, with some enterprising salesmen cashing in.

A retired guardsman reports that he just went out to buy Allied flags to decorate his house but was only offered a Union flag the size of a handkerchief for six shillings. A larger one was £5 and a Russian flag was £2 10s. He did not dare ask the price of the Stars and Stripes.

But the mood remains buoyant. In Barker’s department store in Kensington one woman says: “I’ve been in so many different queues since the war, it’ll be a change to join a flag queue.”...
Much more and great pictures here.

Meanwhile, in Canada:
VE Day celebrations in Toronto, Ont., May 1945.Photo : National Film Board

On April 30, 1945, Hitler committed suicide.

 On May 5, German forces in North-West Europe surrendered. Victory in Europe, or VE, Day was officially celebrated three days later.

 In Germany, where the Canadian Army fought right to the last day, soldiers were too relieved to celebrate very much. In Paris and London, Canadians joined people in the streets in an outpouring of emotion. In Toronto, thousands danced in the streets while three Mosquito aircraft dropped tickertape overhead.

 Most Canadian cities and towns held religious services of thanksgiving. Frustrations built up after years of wartime controls and rationing led to riots and looting in some places, but nowhere else on the scale of those in Halifax ( see The Halifax VE Day Riots ).

 The war was not yet over - the war with Japan was still underway - but the major threat of Nazi Germany had ended....

 That's from the Canadian War Museum where there are some great archival links.  
"A Good Day" 

Mackenzie King, who was in San Francisco on 7 May attending the founding conference of the United Nations, wrote in his diary: "This has been a good day — a happy day [...] one in which the burden has been greatly lightened from the knowledge that Nazi militarism has, at last, been destroyed."

In a radio address the next day, Mackenzie King told Canadians, "You have helped to rid the world of a great scourge." The celebrating started across North America on 7 May, but subsided when people learned it had not been confirmed. When confirmation did come at 9 a.m. EDT on 8 May, celebrations resumed, in many places even more fervently than the day before.


 Among the first Canadians to celebrate were the sailors on naval and merchant ships on the Atlantic, and soldiers and airmen based in Europe. Their long ordeal would soon be coming to an end, although many would still be tasked with providing security to occupied Germany, and bringing aid to the Netherlands, where the Dutch were desperate for emergency food and medical supplies distributed by Canadian forces. Across the Netherlands, Canadians were cheered and welcomed as heroes.....
Check out the Canadian Encyclopedia for much more.

From the US today, via Military Times, to mark this day in history:

U.S. Capitol flyover marks 70th anniversary of V-E Day
(photo AP)

During the Second World War within just 6 years — the US military progressed from hand-built wooden biplanes, to powerful jet engines to ballistic missiles and the atomic bomb.

​ More than 40 vintage aircraft of World War II will fill the skies over the nation's capital Friday in tribute to the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V-E) Day.

Fifteen flying formations will form up near Leesburg, Virginia, and follow the Potomac River southeast toward Washington.

But unlike the usual "river run" of modern commercial flights into Reagan National Airport, the venerable war birds will bank over the Lincoln Memorial, overflying the National World War II Memorial, head east past the Washington Monument along Independence Avenue, turning south as they pass over the National Air and Space Museum near the Capitol. The first formation is expected to fly just 1,000 feet over the Lincoln Memorial at about 12:10 p.m....

Much more, with a very cool video here.

Previous VE Day columns here:

May 8, 1945:  "This is your Victory"

VE Day 1945:  "Long live the cause of Victory"

"Gave their tomorrows for our today. Don't let their memory fade. We WILL remember them..."

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Video: Huron Carol

The Huron Carol has become part of the Brat Christmas. It is usually sung by a native Canadian, Tom Jackson - who has an amazing voice - and I finally found his version here.

The "Huron Carol" (or "'Twas in the Moon of Wintertime") is a Christmas hymn, written in 1643 by Jean de Brébeuf, a Christian missionary at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons in Canada. Brébeuf wrote the lyrics in the native language of the Huron/Wendat people; the song's original Huron title is "Jesous Ahatonhia" ("Jesus, he is born"). The song's melody is a traditional French folk song, "Une Jeune Pucelle" ("A Young Maid"). The well known English lyrics were written in 1926 by Jesse Edgar Middleton.
This version performed by Heather Dale, and sung in Wendat (Huron), French and English....

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Eleanor Roosevelt and Pearl Harbor

[*Yes, this is a repost from a previous year*]


Eleanor Roosevelt had a career on radio that began in the 1920s and expanded while Franklin Roosevelt was president. She had commercial sponsors but gave the money she earned at this time to charity, such as the American Friends Service Committee.

Speaking in a personal, conversational style, with a high pitched voice and clear, upperclass East Coast diction, ER delivered listeners for her sponsors and proved that she was worth large sums to advertisers. She was especially interested in the participation of women in civic life and issues of education and youth. Between 1933 and 1945 Eleanor Roosevelt’s White House broadcasts addressed the challenges that depression and war posed as well as lighter topics and commentary. After 1945 ER continued her radio broadcasts with a focus on human rights, the Cold War, and world peace.

Beginning in October 1941 ER gave 26 Sunday evening broadcasts sponsored by the
Pan-American Coffee Bureau (eight Latin American coffee growing nations), and earned
a total of $28,000. Through these broadcasts she helped to ready the American people
for war. On the fateful Sunday, December 7, she changed her prepared remarks to rally
her listeners behind the administration as the country entered the war.  (source)

For the last year I had been saving a YouTube video of  Eleanor Roosevelt's radio address about Pearl Harbor, only to find this week that it has been removed from the internet, and I can't find it anywhere. However, the transcript of her December 7 radio address still exists.  From the FDR Library, here's an excerpt of the original draft:

  • Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. FDR Library.
    Eleanor Roosevelt Papers. FDR Library.

  • Eleanor Roosevelt also wrote a regular column called "My Day" and on December 8, 1941 she wrote - in part:

    My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

    DECEMBER 8, 1941

    WASHINGTON, Sunday—I was going out in the hall to say goodbye to our cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Adams, and their children, after luncheon, and, as I stepped out of my room, I knew something had happened. All the secretaries were there, two telephones were in use, the senior military aides were on their way with messages. I said nothing because the words I heard over the telephone were quite sufficient to tell me that, finally, the blow had fallen, and we had been attacked.

    Attacked in the Philippines, in Hawaii, and on the ocean between San Francisco and Hawaii. Our people had been killed not suspecting there was an enemy, who attacked in the usual ruthless way which Hitler has prepared us to suspect.

    Because our nation has lived up to the rules of civilization, it will probably take us a few days to catch up with our enemy, but no one in this country will doubt the ultimate outcome. None of us can help but regret the choice which Japan has made, but having made it, she has taken on a coalition of enemies she must underestimate; unless she believes we have sadly deteriorated since our first ships sailed into her harbor.
    The clouds of uncertainty and anxiety have been hanging over us for a long time. Now we know where we are. The work for those who are at home seems to be obvious. First, to do our own job, whatever it is, as well as we can possibly do it. Second, to add to it everything we can do in the way of civilian defense. Now, at last, every community must go to work to build up protections from attack.

    We must build up the best possible community services, so that all of our people may feel secure because they know we are standing together and that whatever problems have to be met, will be met by the community and not one lone individual. There is no weakness and insecurity when once this is understood....

    The rest is here.

    Within two hours, six battleships had been sunk, another 112 vessels sunk or damaged, and 164 aircraft destroyed. Only chance saved three US aircraft carriers, usually stationed at Pearl Harbor but assigned elsewhere on the day.

    The attacks killed fewer than 100 Japanese but more than 2,400 Americans died - 1,000 of those were on the battleship Arizona which was destroyed at her mooring. Another 1,178 US citizens were injured.

    The next day, President Roosevelt called the attack on Pearl Harbor "a day that will live in infamy" and America declared war on Japan ending its policy of isolationism. ...

    That excerpt is part of a column I wrote in 2010: Pearl Harbour: "By 9:55 it was all over. .." and there is included a timeline of the events on that terrible day, plus a first person account.

    Lest We Forget.