On Friday this week, we commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day – Victory in Europe Day. The day that fighting in Europe in the Second World War came to an end (it would continue until 15 August in Japan when VJ Day was declared). Commemorations for the 75th anniversary were due to be spectacular and would have brought people together in shared celebration, commemoration and to recognise the many who lived, fought and died during the conflict. Celebrations such as street parties and remembrance parades may not be able to take place but we can still join together to commemorate the occasion.
Join in the commemorations
Before Friday 8 May
If you want to find out more about the anniversary, there are lots of resources to explore online. You’ll find links listed below to some of our highlighted sites or visit our VE Day page here.
Throughout the various websites we’ve highlighted, you’ll find picture galleries, videos and activities to help you find out more about the people, places and events of VE Day.
Why not make your own bunting to decorate your house/hang in your windows? You can find a template from the BBC here if you want to decorate your own. Alternatively, if you are able to access a printer, you can find printable bunting here.
The Royal British Legion have set up a virtual Message Board of Remembrance. You can leave your message here.
Why not make plans to hold a tea party with those in your household (and you could share what you’re doing with others in your wider family by telephone or if you have access to technology to let you video call)? English Heritage have created a resource with lots of ideas for activities, dances to learn, things to bake and images from 1945 to help with your commemorations on Friday. You can also find the recipe for Churchill’s favourite fruit cake here. Alternatively, the 1940s Experiment website has lots of wartime recipes to try.
On Friday 8 May
At 11am, there will be a two minutes silence and period of reflection.
From 11.15am, the Royal British Legion are hosting a live stream event on their Facebook page. They invite you to:
“Grab a cup of tea and join us for a 45-minute stream as we bring the World War Two generation together with today’s generation to chat about their shared experiences. We’ll be sharing stories and memories from those who served and sacrificed during the Second World War, as well as recognising the difficulties people are experiencing today.
Hosted by TV presenter Sonali Shah, the programme will feature contributions from social historian Julie Summers, and cook and influencer Melissa Helmsley.”
At 3pm, there will be a national toast to the memory of those involved in the Second World War for everyone to join in with. The toast is quite simple yet poignant:
“To those who gave so much. We thank you”
Throughout the day and evening, TV channels will have special programming about VE Day – there are so many so check your favourite channels to decide what to watch.
At 9pm, after a message from Her Majesty The Queen, join in with a national sing-a-long of ‘We’ll Meet Again’. If you need the words, you’ll find them here.
Home Learning Resources
For ideas to help with Home Schooling around the topic of VE Day and the Second World War, why not explore these websites:
Our colleagues at Warwickshire Schools Library Service have created this topic card with ideas and information about VE Day and how you could commemorate it at home.
The Royal British Legion – along with lots of commemoration activities, you can also find learning resources for Key Stages 2, 3 & 4.
The VE-VJ Day.gov website – you’ll find ideas and resources for the whole family to explore. In the Toolkit, there are colouring sheets, a bunting template and recipe ideas to help you plan your commemorations.
CBBC created this guide to VE day last year, full of images and facts.
As mentioned above, there are a number of resources on the English Heritage website to help you commemorate the Day.
Visit the website of the RAF Museum to find a time travelling novel set at the time of the Battle of Britain, written by author Tom Palmer (new chapters are being released each week)
Resources to explore with your library card
If you’re a Warwickshire Libraries member, your library card gives you access to a wide variety of resources that can help you discover more about the history of VE Day. For more details about each resource and how to log into them, check our eInformation page. Here are a few highlights to get you started:
Use the extensive information available at three different levels of study to read about the history of the last months of the war in Europe and how fighting continued until August in other parts of the world. You can search at a ‘junior’, ‘student’ or ‘adult’ level, as well as accessing images and videos. You’ll need your library card number to sign in.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
You’ll probably read a lot of different names of the people involved in the war efforts all over the world. Find out more about their lives with the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Use your library card number to sign in and start exploring.
Oxford Reference Library
There are other publications by Oxford University Press available with your library card to help you explore the history of the events leading up to VE Day. You’ll find dictionaries and histories full of information.
BBC History Extra
We’ve been lucky enough to obtain temporary access to the resources provided by BBC History Extra. You can search for articles, sound and video clips, podcasts and a wealth of information about both VE Day and all periods of history.
Times Digital Archive
Explore the Times Digital Archive to see how VE Day was written about by the Press at the time. You’ll find the headlines and what else was making the news during the war and around VE Day 1945.
You’ll find both wartime fiction and non-fiction titles in our BorrowBox collection. We’ve picked out a few highlights on our VE Day page but there will be many others so do explore our collection (some will be in high demand and there may be a wait). If you do borrow one and finish it before your three loan period is up, please remember to ‘hit return’ so another reader can start to enjoy the title. If you’re new to BorrowBox, we have a video to help you access it for the first time here, further advice here and you can read our previous blog on how to get the most out of BorrowBox here.
For a limited period, you can also search the Second World War records available on Ancestry. Find out more here. Your Warwickshire Library Card will also provide access to records on Ancestry held at the Warwick County Record Office. Find out how to access these here.
VE Day in Warwickshire
If you have memories about the war and VE Day events in Warwickshire, our Local Studies librarians would love to hear from you. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you have any photographs from the time, they would love to see them.
Here are a couple from our Local Studies collection – on the left, a view of Church Street in Nuneaton, very close to where the Library is now after a bombing raid on May 17th 1941 and on the right, celebrations for VE Day, we think at Stockingford School (do let us know if we haven’t got that right!).
Explore the history of VE Day further with these online resources
Many museums have a vast amount of information on their websites and you will often be able to go on virtual tours of exhibitions or view items within their collections on screen. These are a few we have picked out:
The National Trust – find out which of their properties have links to the Second World War.
There’s a huge amount of history to discover and commemorate. You may very well have members of your family with memories of the Second World War and VE Day – if it’s not painful for them, they may share their recollections with you. You could talk about what they remember and how life has changed.
Whatever you do to commemorate the day, stay safe and take care.