Celebrating heroes, past and present | St James's London


Celebrating heroes, past and present

We commemorate VE Day

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The 8th of May 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day; the end of the Second World War. That year, the early May Bank Holiday fell on a Friday, commemorating a historical 1945 event. Read on to discover how we marked this occasion, as well as learning about our unique ties to the day.

What does VE Day represent?

VE Day marks the end of World War Two, when the Allied Forces formally announced the surrender of Nazi Germany following six years of fighting. It was a war that changed the course of global history and impacted the lives of millions around the world.

What did Churchill say?

On 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, addressed the nation with his words of victory. Churchill’s close ties to your central London neighbourhood are a point of pride for us; his childhood home still stands in St James’s Square, bearing a green plaque to mark its significance. A brilliant orator, Churchill’s words from this iconic moment evoke a community standing together. Perhaps you’ll agree that his description of the London spirit still rings true – a spirit that can be seen across the city – and the nation - to this day:

Did anyone want to give in? [The crowd shouted “No.”] Were we down-hearted? [“No!”] The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it.

How was the 75th Anniversary of VE Day commemorated?

Whilst this VE Day was different, there were still a myriad of ways to celebrate and pay tribute to the wartime generation. We outlined some of the highlights below:

- At 11am, a two-minute silence was held to honour the service of so many during World War Two. This was broadcasted on the BBC and supported by The Royal British Legion.

- At 2.55pm, solo trumpeters, buglers and cornet players were asked to join in playing the ‘Last Post’ from the safety of your homes.

- At 3pm, 'The Nation's Toast to the Heroes of WW2', with households from across the country invited to raise a glass to the generation who sacrificed so much.

- Following the Toast, the original speech by Sir Winston Churchill was broadcasted at 3pm.

- At 6.55pm, Town Criers were ‘Crying out for Peace’.

- At 9pm, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II addressed the nation in a pre-recorded speech, broadcasted at the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave his radio address on 8th May 1945.

After Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's address, the nation was invited to come together once more in a rendition of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.