VE Day – 75th anniversary celebration

VE Day 75th anniversary celebration on Friday 8 May 2020

Welcome

Today (8 May) we honour the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Europe and celebrate all those who fought against the evil of Nazi tyranny during the Second World War.

We hope this digital resource will lead the celebrations in Hammersmith & Fulham and pay tribute to all the soldiers who gave their lives to win the war.

We have included stories and pictures from H&F in 1945 and we invite you to take part in the national observance of VE Day. 

Our special day of tributes is opened by Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, in the following video tribute:

    VE Day Celebration Bunting

    Three horizontal rows of red, white and blue VE Day bunting

    Want to join in the celebrations on the day?

    You can make your own special VE Day 75 Celebration Bunting to display in your window at home.

    On this page:

    What is VE Day?

    VE (or Victory in Europe) Day – 8 May 1945 – was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a war that had cost the lives of millions; had destroyed homes, families, and cities; and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.

    Millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.

    But it was not the end of the conflict, nor was it an end to the impact the war had on people. The war against Japan did not end until August 1945, and the political, social and economic repercussions of the Second World War were felt long after Germany and Japan surrendered.

    Schedule of events – 8 May 2020

    Please join this day-long celebration of VE Day by taking part in these major online and televised moments.

    To kick off the tribute, please watch this video from Cllr David Morton, H&F Council’s Representative for the Armed Forces:

    Today, the BBC will broadcast two special programmes on BBC One to mark VE Day 75, which will be shown from 2.45pm to 3.45pm and from 8pm to 9pm

    • Event timetable and info – 8 May, 11am to 9pm

      11am
      Moment of Remembrance: Two-minute silence

      The Royal British Legion is inviting people across all generations and communities to join them in a national moment of reflection and Remembrance at 11am as they pause in a two-minute silence to honour the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation, and also take the opportunity to reflect on the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on so many lives across the world.

      Share your participation on social media by using #VEDay75.

      11.15am
      Livestream from Royal British Legion

      Grab a cup of tea and join the Royal British Legion for a 45-minute livestream as they bring the Second World War generation together with today’s generation to chat about their shared experiences.

      They’ll be sharing stories and memories from those who served and sacrificed during the Second World War, as well as recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.

      Hosted by TV presenter Sonali Shah, the programme will feature contributions from social historian Julie Summers, and cook and influencer Melissa Helmsley.


      3pm
      Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of the Second World War

      From the safety of your own home, stand up and raise a glass of refreshment of your choice and undertake the following ‘Toast’: “To those who gave so much, we thank you.”

      This is a tribute to the many millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.

      6pm
      Concert at Royal Albert Hall: We'll Meet Again for VE DAY 75 with Katherine Jenkins

      Mezzo Soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE will perform in an empty Royal Albert Hall in a special half-hour concert that will be streamed to audiences for free via YouTube.

      Katherine will sing wartime favourites including The White Cliffs of Dover and We’ll Meet Again; the latter performed as a virtual duet with Dame Vera Lynn. The timeless song, featuring the lyrics, ‘I know we’ll meet again some sunny day’, epitomised the emotions of the war and brought people hope and a sense of togetherness. Today, they ring true for families around the world separated from loved ones at this time of crisis.

      9pm
      National address from Her Majesty The Queen

      A pre-recorded address to the nation by HM The Queen will be broadcast on BBC One and will be followed by messages from the Royal family and conversations from Second World War veterans. This includes His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who will read an extract from King George VI’s diary from 8 May 1945.

      Followed by a national singalong to Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again

      Watch and join in on BBC One who will be featuring the singalong as part of their VE Day broadcast. You are encouraged to open your doors and join in with this national sing-a-long of celebration.

      Watch Bunny Nightingale sing ‘We’ll Meet Again’:

      Join us by singing:

      We'll meet again
      Don't know where
      Don't know when
      But I know we'll meet again 
      Some sunny day

      Keep smiling through
      Just like you always do
      'Till the blue skies chase
      Those dark clouds far away

      And I will just say hello
      To the folks that you know
      Tell them you won't be long
      They'll be happy to know
      That, as I saw you go
      You were singing this song

      We'll meet again
      Don't know where
      Don't know when
      But I know we'll meet again
      Some sunny day

      And I will just say hello
      To the folks that you know
      Tell them you won't be long
      They'll be happy to know
      That, as I saw you go
      You were singing this song

      We'll meet again
      Don't know where
      Don't know when
      But I know we'll meet again
      Some sunny day

      For more details about vintage singer Bunny Nightingale, visit: www.bunnynightingale.com

    From the archives: VE Day IN H&F – 1945

    To find out more about the celebrations and see images from the subsequent street parties and celebrations from the H&F Archives, click the buttons below.

    How H&F celebrated VE Day

    Residents and children sat around a table celebrating VE Day in 1945
    Image caption: Narborough Street on VE Day in 1945

    When the Second World War ended in Europe, Tuesday 8 May 1945 was declared a public holiday... and the Wednesday too!

    Plans were swiftly made for street parties across Fulham and Hammersmith under bunting stretched from lamppost to lamppost. Many were staged on Saturday 12 May, with more over the subsequent weekends.

    During the VE Day parties that ensued in H&F, it was the two local mayors that were rushed off their feet. Hammersmith and Fulham were separate boroughs at this point, and as the newspaper archives show in the story link below, the mayors did their best to attend every party. No mean feat!

    Read our blog

    In honour of VE Day and the civic duties and challenges it posed, as well as the need to honour those from H&F who lost their lives in the Second World War, the serving Mayor of H&FCllr Daryl Brown – has created this video tribute to the borough:

    How the Second World War changed H&F forever

    Monochrome aerial view of Lillie Road Recreation Ground showing map legends
    Image caption: Aerial photograph at Lillie Road Recreation Ground with installations near the middle

    Hammersmith & Fulham’s parks witnessed scenes of joyous celebration in the wake of VE Day, but they also played important wartime roles as the borough suffered bombing raids through the Second World War.

    Several of today’s pocket parks owe their existence to the bombs that fell. A series of Luftwaffe bomber reconnaissance photographs reveal many of the secrets that the parks contained.

    Read our pocket parks article

    Pictures from the archives

    Crowd of residents and children gathered in Oakbury Road, SW6 to celebrate VE Day in 1945
    Image caption: Victory celebrations in Oakbury Road, SW6

    We have pulled together a selection of 1945 VE Day celebration photographs from the H&F Archives based at Hammersmith Library on Shepherds Bush Road.

    Our archive pictures are available online – take a look at the Flickr photo gallery.

    See our pictures

    (Special thanks to local military historian Colin MacMillan and researcher Tim Harrison for their help with the photographs and historical details.)

    Picture appeal – win free box of M&S tea bags!

    Blue package containing 80 Marks & Spencer extra strong tea bags
    Image caption: Win some M&S tea bags!

    Here are three images of street parties that we think took place in Hammersmith and Fulham in 1945.

    Can you help us identify what streets these parties took place in? The first two were in Hammersmith. The final picture could be anywhere in H&F. Do you know?

    If so, you could win a free box of 80 Extra Strong M&S Fairtrade teabags. All you have to do is send us the answer via email to pressoffice@lbhf.gov.uk 

    It's first-come, first-served so don't delay!

    Group of people celebrating VE Day on an unknown street in Hammersmith
    Image caption: Hammersmith picture 1 - what street?

    Group of residents celebrating VE Day on an unknown street in Hammersmith
    Image caption: Hammersmith picture 2 - what street?

    Group of people celebrating VE Day on an unknown street in Hammersmith & Fulham
    Image caption: Picture 3 - what street in Hammersmith & Fulham?

    In this video, Cllr Patricia Quigley pays tribute to the fantastic community spirit that exists in Hammersmith & Fulham – from the Second World War to the current coronavirus crisis:

    In focus: VE Day in East Acton

    How did you celebrate VE Day? Down at the shops a huge bonfire was built on the strip of grass in front of the cottages at the bottom of East Acton Lane (Orchard Place near Old Oak Common Lane).

    This picture – courtesy of the Imperial War Museum – was taken by a Signal Corps photographer from the United States Army. Read more about the celebration from local resident Brian Brooks.

    Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London
    Image caption: Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London during the evening of VE Day, 8 May 1945. PICTURE: IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

    Chelsea Pensioners: Three remarkable experiences

    Bill Fitzgerald in his Chelsea Pensioner's uniform
    Image caption: Bill Fitzgerald

    Bill Fitzgerald’s story

    Surviving the Blitz, the D-Day landings and a mortar attack, second generation Chelsea Pensioner Bill Fitzgerald shares his story.

    After his wartime experiences, Bill Fitzgerald married his childhood sweetheart Eileen and had two sons. He had a long career as an engineer before coming to the Royal Hospital. His father – a veteran of World War I – was a Chelsea Pensioner before him.

    Read Bill Fitzgerald's story

    Ernie Boyden in his Chelsea Pensioner's uniform
    Image caption: Ernie Boyden

    Ernie Boyden’s story

    Memories of an Observation Post signaller Ernie Boyden recalls how his experience in 1944 changed his life.

    Ernie Boyden has been a Chelsea Pensioner for 18 years, where he says he gets ‘remarkable attention’. He describes himself as having ‘a young brain’ which he keeps occupied through interests including historical research and painting. Many of his works are displayed in his room, alongside quotations that inspire him.

    Read Ernie Boyden's story

    Frank Mouqué in his Chelsea Pensioner's uniform
    Image caption: Frank Mouqué

    Frank Mouqué’s story

    From the bottling stores to the beaches, his role as a Sapper in the D-Day landings stays fresh in Frank Mouqué’s mind.

    Although a childhood incident compounded by the guns and bombs of World War II have left Frank Mouqué profoundly deaf, he is good-humoured and active – travelling to France every year to visit a family involved in the liberation of Armentieres.

    Read Frank Mouqué’s story

    Useful links and information