VE Day 75 Commemorations

Background

Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day, is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on 8 May 1945.  It t is now 75 years since that momentous occasion and celebrations were planned across the country, with a special Bank Holiday weekend.  We had planned a weekend of events and activities with a street party, singing and entertainment and vintage car parade 

 

The celebrations have been postponed due to the current battle again an unseen enemy in Coronavirus.  However this will not stop the people of Britain commemorating this very important day.  Town and villages throughout the country are arranging 'Stay at Home' parties.  The volunteers of Harleston's Future, the Harleston Kindness Hub and our local Council have worked together to produce a programme of events and activities for Friday 8 May as our virtual VE Day celebrations.

 

Memories of the Day

If you have some photos of the day which you would like to share please email them to info@harlestonsfuture.org.uk

Remember...

Some people will remember VE Day and the original celebrations with fondness. Brining an end to the misery of war and hope for a brighter future. They have lived through many more ups and downs until reaching the current low point of Coronavirus and isolation. They will however have optimism, borne from experience, that times will get better.

Other people will have heard about the war, rationing and rebuilding directly from people who were there. But most people will only have second hand stories or cinema interpretations for their nostalgic visions.

We bring you a mixture of actual recordings, local memories and recreations to help with our VE Day 75th anniversary celebrations. Whether you are young or old, remember the war first hand, second hand or only through TV, there will be something for you.

Wartime Recipes

Before the Second World War started Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from other countries. After war was declared in September 1939, the British government had to cut down on the amount of food it brought in from abroad as German submarines started attacking British supply ships. There was a worry that this would lead to shortages of food supplies in the shops so the British government decided to introduce a system of rationing.


Rationing made sure that people got an equal amount of food every week. The government was worried that as food became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford to eat. There was also a danger that some people might hoard food, leaving none for others.

In January, 1940, bacon, butter and sugar were rationed. This was followed by meat, fish, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. Rationing was popular with the people and a Gallup Poll showed over 60 per cent in favour of this system.

However, many small shopkeepers complained about the strategy used by food inspectors of employing people to encourage the breaking of the law. In December 1940, Isabella Tompsett was employed in Stepney to visit butchers' shops and attempt to buy meat without coupons. As a result three butchers in one road were heavily fined for this offence. These undercover officials acting as agents provacateurs, were severely criticised in the press.

Vintage Cars

We have a beautiful collection of classic cars which can be seen from the comfort of your own home.  Thesegeorgeous vehicles are all owned and lovingly maintained by local enthusiasts.  Do you know your Austin from your Anglia, your Minx from your Snipe?  Take a look at the parade of vintage cars and see how many you recognise.

There will be a virtual parade of military vehicles at 4:00pm on Friday 8 May. 

Songs - We'll Meet Again

The song was written by English songwriters Ross Parker and Hughie Charles in 1939.  The pair also wrote 'There'll Always Be an England', but 'We'll Meet Again' proved to be their biggest success.  Parker continued to write and perform until his death at the age of 59 in 1974. He also appeared as a chef in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

What was the song's meaning?
 

The song is one of the most famous of the Second World War era.  Written at the beginning of the war, it resonated with soldiers going off to fight, as well as their families and sweethearts back home.


When was it recorded?

The most popular version was recorded three years later in 1942 by 'The Forces Sweetheart', Vera Lynn.

Lynn's morale-building ballads, concerts and British tours overseas made her the most popular British singer during WWII.

Her recording of this song perfectly captured the mood of the British nation at the time, as the UK took on its battle for survival during the Blitz and beyond.

Lynn later recalled in 2009 to Saga Magazine: "I always tried to choose cheerful songs, that soldiers missing their wives and sweethearts could relate to.  "We weren't psychologists, but we understood that it was important to express the right meaning, and we put a lot of effort into getting the songs right."

Games and Entertainment

During the secong world war children played many different games. They played Hopscotch, Four Square, Jump Rope, Marbles, Red Rover Red Rover, Hide and Seek, Statues, Red Light Green Light. In the evening children did not have video games as they do now, so children played cards, Chutes and Ladders (which is similar to Snakes and Ladders), Candy Land and Checkers. During the war families were short of money so only the rich children had toys. Other children may have had a football and maybe if lucky a couple of marbles.

We will bring you a series of quizzes and colouring sheets all relating to WWII and VE Day.

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