5 Photos of VE Day in London, 1945

As I went out for my walk today, I see that our street is decorated with fluttering red, white and blue bunting, Union Jack flags hanging from windows and a local singer is even doing a performance on his driveway. This is VE Day 2020, 75 years ago since Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced to the nation that after years of bombing, uncertainty, families forced apart and daily rations, the Second World War was finally over. 

But what about 8th May, 1945? What did VE Day look like then? 

Here are five photos that capture the moment - the relief that the skies were finally silent and optimism for future peace. 

Photo: Public Domain, Imperial War Museum
This beautiful photo of two young girls waving flags amongst the rubble in Battersea, London was taken by an anonymous American photographer. These girls lived through the bombing, being whisked away to air-raid shelters and the uncertainty. The relief that it was over is shown in the expression of the older girl. 

Photo: Public Domain, Imperial War Museum
Civilians, service personnel and children flock to Whitehall, to listen to Winston Churchill's famous speech being broadcasted. The photo is taken looking towards the Cenotaph and Trafalgar Square, in the distance. The Cenotaph is the site of Remembrance services today. 

Photo: Public Domain, Imperial War Museum
Winston Churchill prepares to give his Victory Speech, on 8th May 1945 in front of BBC microphones, to reveal to the nation that Germany had 'signed the act of unconditional surrender'. The crowds are flocked outside the building to hear it. 

Photo: Public Domain, Imperial War Museum
A group of partygoers crowd into (and out of!) a truck at The Strand, waving flags and cheering.

Photo: Public Domain, James A. Spence.
Crowds build around a queue of buses, which are also packed full of people celebrating, at Piccadilly Square. The photo was taken by Seargant James A. Spence, during his service in World War Two. 

As we remember this historic day, it's worth noting that a photograph is a snapshot of an event and it can only give us an idea of what it must have been like to celebrate the original VE Day. The emotions on the faces of the people in the photographs give a real sense of the relief and hope that a new era could begin. And while we celebrate and remember the day war ended, we must remember these people and try and get a feel for the immense celebration that took place 75 years ago.  

What is your community doing to commemorate VE Day? 

All photos in Public Domain, links to each one are shown. 

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