Wednesday, May 8, 2013

VE Day: 'Let Joy Be Unrefined'

 London Celebrates VE Day, 1945

 Besieged on all fronts, representatives of Nazi
Londoners dance in the streets of Whitehall
VE Day, May 8, 1945
Germany signed the surrender documents ending the greatest conflict ever to envelope Europe on May 7 in the French city of Reims. The fighting was to cease at 11:01 AM the next day. Six years of bloodshed were over.

Word of the anticipated surrender had been circling for days. There were two celebratory false starts – one on April 28, another on the morning of May 7. Finally, the official announcement of the cessation of fighting was broadcast on the evening of May 7 and the world erupted in spontaneous joy.

In London, the following day, the streets were filled with people and street parties. Bands played, flags flew and the air was filled with fireworks. At Buckingham Palace, Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared with the Royal Family on a balcony overlooking an ecstatic crowd that packed the square below. The city brimmed with unbridled joy....

A MUST read of an eye-witness to history. 

(Source:  Mollie Panter-Downes' letter was originally published in the New Yorker Magazine on May 19, 1945, republished in The New Yorker Book of War Pieces (1947).

 VE Day 1945: "...Long live the cause of freedom..." 

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....(Beeb here)


So many stories of England in WW2 are part of my heritage. As with so many families, the personal recountings have not been written down, but there are first person accounts on sites like the BBC. The Womens Land Army figures large with the home-front women of the 'greatest generation':

The Women's Land Army: We Will Never Forget

by Grace Wallace

17-year old recruit Grace Jackson of Blackpool, Lancashire

The story I am about to tell is not so much about my life, but about a band of women who were seldom recognised, not always appreciated, and soon forgotten. Who were they? The Women's Land Army. Who, did you say? Yes, that is the reaction of most people. 

Another year beginning, the war was still on. I didn't really have a happy home life. I had just been disappointed in love. You may think that at 16-and-a-half years old, I was a bit young to know about love, but we seemed to grow up faster during the war. Everyone seemed to be grasping happiness while they could....


Then, as now, the huge numbers of those from the allies who gave their lives so that others might live free from tyranny, are made up of 'ordinary' individuals who stepped up and stood for freedom, with incredible acts of bravery.

Sgt Major Ken MacKinder. My own soldier angel. Forever.

Lest we forget.

Read the rest of this one, and watch the videos here.


May 8, 1945: "This is your victory."

People were already on the streets celebrating on 7 May, and huge crowds gathered in London on the following day. At 3.00pm Churchill made a radio broadcast. In Trafalgar Square, an eye-witness noted, '...there was an extraordinary hush over the assembled multitude', as Churchill's voice was relayed over loudspeakers: '... the evil-doers lay prostrate before us ... Advance Britannia.'

The King and Queen appeared eight times on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, while the two princesses - Margaret and Elizabeth (the present Queen) - mingled with the crowds. Churchill gave an impromptu speech on the balcony of the Ministry of Health, telling the crowds, 'This is your victory.' (BBC here)

Winston Churchill May 8, 1945:

God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all....

 More here..

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