Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced the UK Government’s plans for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
On May 8, a day-long series of events will take place across the country to commemorate the Allied Victory in Europe and give thanks to the World War Two generation and the sacrifices they made securing peace across the continent.
The Prime Minister has backed The Royal British Legion’s search for World War Two vets who will take centre stage at the commemorations in London, culminating in a procession down the Mall. Applications are now open for veterans from the UK, Allied Forces and the Commonwealth, descendants, child evacuees and all those who contributed to the war effort – including those who served on the Home Front and in the emergency services – to take part.
Other events will include a Service of Remembrance and parade in Cardiff, a Veterans’ parade and concert in Edinburgh, and the opportunity for street parties to take place in cities, towns and villages across the country, recreating the national outpouring of thanksgiving that took place 75 years ago.
The PM said: “The 75th anniversary of VE Day marks a historic moment for our great country to come together and reflect on the heroes of the Second World War. No one will ever forget what they sacrificed in defending our freedom and securing peace across Europe, and we will continue to honour those who contributed at home and abroad.
“This programme of events gives the whole nation a chance to thank all those involved for everything they did – both for those alive today, and for future generations. And by commemorating these moments, we can remember and remind ourselves of the fragility of peace, and the need for us all to collectively uphold this.”
Commemorations will begin at Westminster Abbey with a Service of Thanksgiving attended by hundreds of veterans and representatives of the World War Two generation.
At 3pm, an extract from Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech will be broadcast in public spaces across the UK recreating the iconic moment the Prime Minister announced the end of the war. This will be part of Imperial War Museums’ Voices of War, which includes a series of personal testimonies of people who experienced VE Day taken from the museums’ sound archive.
World War Two veterans and individuals that contributed to the war effort will then take part in a procession down the Mall. Events will conclude in a fly past that will include the Red Arrows and Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and other modern aircraft, followed by a tea party for veterans in St James’s Park.
Throughout the weekend, part of St James’s Park will be turned into ‘Victory Park’ where veterans and the public can experience themed events based on life in the UK during the Second World War. A nearby ‘Military Village,’ also situated in St James’s Park, will provide an opportunity for the public to meet serving military personnel who will be there with a display of modern military equipment.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The VE Day anniversary events will allow the nation to come together and celebrate the greatest generation which saved our nation from tyranny. Our nationwide programme will tell the stories of those who served in the Second World War at home and abroad, and honour their memories as we reflect on 75 years since the Allies restored peace in Europe.”
Last year the government announced the early May Bank Holiday would be moved to Friday, May 8 so the public can take part in the nationwide commemorations and recreate the moment 75 years ago when the nation stopped to celebrate Victory in Europe.
In addition to a Bank Holiday, pub licensing hours will be extended until 1am on both Friday May 8 and Saturday May 9, 2020.
In the coming weeks government will announce major plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, August 15, which marked Victory Over Japan and the final end of World War Two. Veterans of the Far East campaign will be at the heart of the commemorations as the nation thanks them for their service and sacrifice.
Events will also pay tribute to the tens of thousands of service personnel from across the UK and the Commonwealth who fought and died in the war against Japan, including all those who were held as prisoners of war by the Japanese.
For more information visit: https://ve-vjday75.uk/