After nearly 6 years of war, the allied forces finally defeated Nazi Germany and as news came of the unconditional surrender, signed by General Jodi of the German High Command, Europe breathed a sigh of relief. 8th May is Victory in Europe Day and on that day in 1945 the people of Great Britain celebrated the ensuing end of the harsh war conditions they had endured since 1939.
Churchill's speech on VE Day (HC Hansard, 6 May 1945, cols 1867 - 1868).
As wireless announcements went out across the Country, the general public feeling was that of celebration and reflection. After years of air raids, shortages and personal loss, the nation celebrated the start of better things to come. People took to the streets for parties and parades and all over the country ceremonies were held to celebrate the victory and to honour those lost. As they would do again on 15th August, the Speaker and members of the House of Commons proceeded to St. Margaret's church, Westminster, for a service of thanksgiving.
The procession coming out of St Stephen's Porch on VE Day, 8 May 1945 (HC/SO/6/11)
Souvenir programme of a victory party in the Leyton constituency, 29 September 1945 (SOR/173)
However, thoughts soon turned to the ongoing war with Japan as the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill reminded his cabinet; 'our brief rejoicings and celebrations are over, and we must now turn again to many difficult and unpleasant tasks including especially, the defeat of Japan'. Indeed, that defeat came and celebrations resumed in the summer of 1945 as 15th August was heralded as Victory in Japan Day.
The Kings speech to both Houses of Parliament (HC Hansard 15 August 1945, col 53)
Although the Japanese administration didn't officially sign the surrender until early September, VJ Day marked the final end to World War Two and brought with it feelings of hope for future world peace.Back to Highlights and FeaturesBack to Parliamentary Archives home page