May 8th 1945 marks the end of World War two. At one minute after midnight, hostilities ceased. In Manchester, Britain, people are being asked to remember the fallen at 1500 hours. Burning beacons are to be lit to light up the night sky and Manchester’s beacon will be lit following a service at the Cathedral.
VE day marks the end of one of the darkest periods in our history. The Royal British Legion said the beacons aim to symbolise light after the darkness of war. More than 200 locations are taking part. The Queen is to light the principal beacon in Windsor Park. It is fitting to remember all those who gave their lives and to commemorate this historic anniversary once more through the lighting of beacons.
On this day, in 1945, when peace was declared, people ran out into the streets to celebrate and rejoice. Street parties and sing-a-longs took place all over the country. Winston Churchill made a radio address to the nation at 3pm. He said, “My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child had no thought of quitting the struggle.”
In London, the Royal Family appeared on the balcony at Buckingham Palace to a crowd of thousands of people and afterwards, the two Princesses, Margaret and Elizabeth mingled with the crowds, inconspicuous to all.
American sailors and laughing girls formed a conga line down the middle of Piccadilly and Cockneys linked arms doing the Lambeth walk. Outside the palace, people chanted all day, “We want the King.” When the King, Queen and their daughters appeared on the balcony, the crowd erupted into an almighty cheer. And when Churchill appeared, there was an even mightier roar.
Today, we pay tribute to all servicemen and women and civilians who died during the six year conflict. Wreaths shall be laid and an extract of the speech by Winston Churchill read on this day seventy years ago, shall be read today at 3pm. One hour after sunset, the chain of beacons will be lit around the country. The Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Trafalgar Square were illuminated on VE day, and they will be illuminated today, creating a V -shape.
A national thanksgiving service is to be held at Westminster Abbey on Sunday, followed by a parade of more than 2000 service veterans, who will march from the Abbey to Horse Guards Parade, while the RAF roar overhead with the BBMF Lancaster Bomber, Spitfires and Hurricanes. The Red Arrows are also taking part in the flypast.
Why don’t you see what’s happening this weekend in your neighbourhood? Perhaps you’d like to join in with the celebrations and in paying tribute to our great servicemen and women, many of whom gave their lives in service for their country. We honour them all, from all nations who answered Britain’s call to arms during those dark days.