VE Day, Then and Now

May 8, 2015

Today marks the 70th anniversary to the end of World War II.

What was VE Day?

London revellers dancing in the streets on VE Day
London revelers dancing in the streets on VE Day
  • VE Day held on 8 May, 1945, celebrated the end of war in Europe
  • The British government had been planning the celebration from late 1944. The code word ‘MOUSETRAP’ alerted ministers when VE Day was imminent
  • Bunting was taken off rations, pubs stayed open late and searchlights were used to light public monuments
  • Churchill broadcast to the nation at 3pm from Whitehall. Listeners later heard their first weather forecast since war had begun
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965) waving to crowds gathered in Whitehall on VE Day, 8th May 1945.
Then prime minister Winston Churchill addressed thousands of people from the Treasury balcony 70 years ago

On 8 May 1945 people across the country lit hundreds of bonfires and beacons to celebrate the end of the war.  70 years later, the Queen was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh in lighting the first of hundreds of beacons in memorandum.

The Queen lighting beacon
Then and now, the country lit hundreds of bonfires and beacons to celebrate the end of the war.
Events held across Europe marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War on the continent.

Vintage World War II planes flew down the National Mall on Friday afternoon as part of the 70th anniversary Victory in Europe celebration in Washington.

More than 50 military planes in 15 formations made their way down the Potomac River to the Lincoln Memorial and down Independence Avenue to the House office buildings before returning to airports in Culpeper and Manassas, Va.

They flew in sequenced formations recounting the biggest battles of World War II, from Pearl Harbor to the final assault on Japan.

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