8 May 1945 – VE (Victory in Europe) Day – was one that remained long in the memory of all those who witnessed it. It meant an end to nearly six years of a grizzly war that had cost the lives of millions, had destroyed homes, families, and cities, and had brought huge suffering and privations to the populations of entire countries.
Literally millions of people rejoiced in the news that Germany had surrendered, relieved that the intense strain of total war was finally over. In towns and cities across the world, people marked the victory with street parties, dancing and singing.
A national holiday was declared in Britain for 8 May 1945. In the morning, Churchill had gained assurances from the Ministry of Food that there were enough beer supplies in the capital and the Board of Trade announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons. There were even commemorative items hastily produced in time for the celebrations, including VE Day mugs. Some restaurants had special ‘victory’ menus, too. Various events were organised to mark the occasion, including parades, thanksgiving services as well as street parties. London’s St Paul’s Cathedral held ten consecutive