On 8th May 2020 we celebrate VE day, which marks 75 years since the guns of the Second World War fell silent in Europe.
After years of bloodshed and devastation, peace had finally come. Millions of people took to the streets of Britain to celebrate, remember lost loved ones, and look towards a new future.
This year, public celebrations to commemorate this landmark 75th anniversary have been halted because we have a new battle on our hands – the fight against coronavirus.
But while festivities might be a little lower key than expected, the people of Great Britain are nonetheless planning to mark the occasion with passion, camaraderie, and classic British spirit.
Up and down the country, it is hoped people will join in with celebrating this monumental day at home. From tea parties and decorating houses, to sing-alongs and toasting to victory, the 8th of May is still set to be a day to remember.
And one thing is for sure – a global pandemic definitely won’t stop us from commemorating VE Day and showing the world how proud we are to be British!
What is VE Day?
VE Day, which stands for Victory in Europe, is the day on which allied forces announced the surrender of Germany across the continent. It marked the end of Adolf Hitler’s regime, and the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
At 3pm on 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the nation, announcing that war was finally over. Upon the news of victory, people flooded the streets up and down the country to celebrate, drinking and dancing into the night.
Huge parties were held, pubs extended their opening hours and The Ministry of Food ensured there was enough beer in the capital so people could celebrate in style. Revellers were even able to buy red, white, and blue bunting to hang on their houses without using their rations coupons.
Queen Elizabeth (who was a princess at the time) and her sister Margaret even managed to join in the celebrations with the people of London. Mingling with partygoers unnoticed, the princesses danced the conga through the streets and even joined crowds in chanting for their father, The King to make another speech. The Queen has always said that to this day, it was one of the most memorable nights of her whole life.
Who do we celebrate and remember on VE Day?
VE Day is a celebration of not only the end of the Second World War in Europe, but of those brave people who risked their lives and kept wartime Britain from falling to its knees.
From front line fighters who led Britain’s war effort in countries all across the world, to our home front heroes, there are many people to celebrate.
During the Second World War, around 3 million British men fought in bloody battles to defeat Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. Of those brave men who endeavoured to protect our country, around 385,000 sadly lost their lives.
Not all of our Second World War heroes went off to fight though. With many men sent to the front line across Europe and the rest of the world, it was up to those left behind to take up the slack. Many men and women found themselves taking on jobs that they would never have otherwise done.
From the Land Girls who made up a new rural workforce and Bevin’s Boys who stepped up to the coal face (quite literally), thousands of men and women across the country took on new roles while war in Europe raged on.
Before the war, women were usually expected to be homemakers and mothers, or hold ‘women’s jobs’ such as nurse, shop assistant or domestic helper. The Second World War changed the world of work for women in Britain forever. When men went to fight, women were called to take on their jobs, which included farm work (Land Girls), ship building, working in factories, driving fire engines and other ‘typically male’ roles.
Many men who could not join the regular army because their day time jobs were classed as essential instead joined the Home Guard. Other men who had originally been sent to war were chosen as Bevin’s Boys, and shipped back home to work in the coal mines and keep Britain powered. Families across the more rural parts of the country took in evacuees from the larger cities, to protect them from the threat of German air raids.
As you can see, everyone across Britain had their part to play. Even if your family members back then didn’t fight in the war, it is likely that they still contributed to keeping this country going. Everyone pitched in and helped Britain to finally win its war against the enemy.
This VE Day, we will be remembering our very own Sergeant Teddy Edward, who lends his name to our proudly British-made clothing brand. Ted was the grandfather of our founder, Stephen and served with the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire regiments as an Armoury Sergeant.
Our fight, then and now
As we look back and celebrate VE Day, our thoughts turn to how we can take that courageous war-time spirit and apply it to our new fight – the coronavirus.
It’s not to say that that the virus we are battling against is in any way comparable to the atrocities of living through a war. But the camaraderie and community spirit we have seen in this country recently does evoke a certain war-time spirit that we last saw 75 years ago.
One person who encapsulates both what VE Day and our fight against coronavirus stands for is Colonel Tom Moore. Not only will we be commemorating what he and his comrades did during the war, but we are also celebrating what this incredible veteran has achieved through a global pandemic.
Colonel Tom, who fought in Burma during the war, has single-handedly raised over £32million for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 appeal by walking 100 lengths of his garden by his 100th birthday.
He has captured the hearts and imaginations of the country, showing people that if an old war hero can so stoically support the troops in our new fight, we all can too.
Because at the moment, our key workers need all the support they can get. Top of the list is our fantastic NHS staff who are working tirelessly on the frontline to treat coronavirus patients.
But the fight is not just being fought on the frontline. Our home front efforts are what is really keeping the country going though these unprecedented times.
Like the Land Girls and Bevin’s Boys, tens of thousands of key workers across the country are stepping up and doing their bit to keep Britain running.
From delivery drivers, postal workers, and vets, to waste collectors, shop staff and the emergency services, we have so many people to give our thanks to as we try and beat this pandemic together.
With veterans like Colonel Tom spurring us on, we are once again showing the world exactly what us Brits are made of - just like 75 years ago!
How can you celebrate VE Day in lockdown?
Huge public events to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day might have ground to a halt thanks to the coronavirus lockdown. But that doesn’t mean people won’t still be celebrating in style!
Here are some of the ways you can get involved from home on 8th May:
11am – Two minutes silence on your doorstep
2pm – Winston Churchill’s VE Day speech will be show on the BBC
Then grab your picnic blankets or a table, and head out to your front garden for:
4pm – Tea & Scones
6pm – Dinner and raise a glass to your neighbours (whilst social distancing, of course!)
9pm – Watch the Queen’s address to the nation on the BBC, and join in with the official sing-along to Dame Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again”
Whether you join in with the scaled-back schedule of celebrations, or host your own lockdown VE Day tea party, you can find ideas and resources on the official VE Day website. You can even download and print out your very own Great British Bunting from BBC Local Radio!
There are calls for the cancelled public VE Day celebrations to take place later in the year, giving us the chance to have a proper victory knees-up. Wartime singer Dame Vera Lynn recently called for a VE Day-style national party when we have finally beaten coronavirus, meaning we could have a double celebration on our hands!
So, on the 8th May join us in celebrating VE Day and giving thanks to those who risked their lives (including our Teddy!) to protect the Great Britain we know and love. And as you are honouring our past heroes, make sure you spare a thought for our present-day superstars too. After-all, they are currently fighting another battle to remember.
What have you got planned to celebrate VE Day at home? Let us know in the comments or tag us on social media @teddyedwardclothing