Most European countries celebrate the end of ‘World War 11’ on 8 May. Russia, Belarus, and Serbia celebrate on 9 May, as did several former Soviet bloc countries. Israel also marks VE Day on 9 May, as a result of a large number of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc, although it is not a public holiday. The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of victory.
Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world, especially in Great Britain and North America. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout Great Britain to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.
In the United States, the event coincided with President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral haemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April.
Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both Churchill and Truman pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 15:00 on the 8th, Churchill told the British people that: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued". In America, Truman broadcast at 09:00 and said it was "a victory only half won".
I dedicate my song/songs today to any person alive who belonged to any family who lived through the ‘Second World War’. In particular, the country today remembers the great national sacrifice that was made by the British Forces of yesterday and their allies, along with the British civilians who kept the home fires burning until our soldier boys and women returned victorious from the battlefront.
First and foremost, we remember the fallen soldiers who gave up their lives on the battlefields of a foreign land to fight for freedoms that the people of Great Britain enjoy today. THEY SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN. We remember all those men and women who fought on the home front, whether nurses, wardens, munition workers, farmworkers, firemen, airmen and military; all who died as this country was bombed and German planes fought dog battles in the daytime skies above London. We remember all men women and children who were killed in the night-time bombing of this country. Finally, we remember and pay tribute to every person who lived through this terrible war to tell the tale and to proudly carry and display the British flag for future generations. They each made a contribution toward our eventual victory against Hitler.
There were many people in the war who made a significant contribution to our success, but two voices stood out above all others and will be forever remembered in the eyes of the common man and woman.
The first among all equals was our Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. It wasn’t any military mistakes during the war that he will be remembered for, or for those momentous decisions he did not flinch from despite the loss of British lives experienced in consequence. No! What Winston Churchill will be remembered for was his ability through the English spoken word, delivered with the unquavering conviction of a British Bulldog taking a bite out of a juicy steak, to marshal the Armed Forces against a militarily-superior enemy and send them into battle with a belief that we could win the war. What Winston will be remembered for was his ability, through his spoken word in his inspirational broadcasts over the wireless, (that’s the radio for you young whippersnappers), to pour much-needed buckets of hope and spread strands of belief across the airwaves that made the citizens of Great Britain hold on to that gut feeling, whatever Adolf Hitler did, we would never surrender! He would never beat us!
The second person that was just as valuable to our brave soldiers serving abroad was the ‘Nation’s Sweetheart’, the singer Vera Lynn. It was her voice that bolstered the hope that Churchill gave, and it was her songs about the country the British loved and were fighting for that kept to the forefront of the country's collective mind, images of a land called 'England' which our brave soldiers would return to after the war was over. Vera risked her own life many times as she visited war zones in the dangerous Far East to entertain our soldiers(on the battlefront) with her songs of back home.
Vera Lynn was my mother’s favourite singer and it makes me immensely proud that we have been friends for over thirty years. Vera has helped me on many occasions since 1990 with my charitable works and ventures. Had my mother known that her firstborn and her favourite singer, Vera, would one day become good friends she would have been overjoyed with the thought, just as she would have been happy to know that Vera is now Dame Vera Lynn, lives down south and has reached the grand old age of 103 years in 2020.
Because of the nation is unable to celebrate this great occasion today in its traditional manner because of the Coronavirus pandemic and the country’s lockdown, celebrations will go ahead on the television, radio, and across computers and laptops that will stretch from the Hebrides to the White Cliffs of Dover.
For my own humble contribution toward today’s celebrations. I include four of Vera’s many wartime songs that I have video recorded. I am sure there will be a favourite song of Vera’s among my selected four songs posted today. So, please celebrate with me by singing along with me throughout this momentous day in our country’s history. Until 'We’ll Meet Again'
Love and peace Bill xxx
Among My Souvenirs
Now is the Hour
The White Cliffs of Dover