8 May is the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, marking the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender in 1945.

Due to the current restrictions, VE75 events and street parties across the country have had to be cancelled or postponed, but you can still mark the occasion, share your pride in our country and the efforts of all the allies in defeating this tyrannical fascist regime, and honour the men and women of World War II.

Celebrating VE Day

Here are some suggestions and tips to help you celebrate this important occasion in our history.

Decorate your home

You can make your own special VE Day 75 ‘Great British Bunting’ to display in your window at home with these step by step instructions and templates. You can also find more bunting ideas and colouring posters for children.

Get cooking

Create your own World War II menu by following some wartime recipe ideas, including spam hash and homity pie.

Take a trip down memory lane

Listen to some World War II tunes on this special Spotify playlist.

Get your party pack

This VE 75 Party Pack from English Heritage (PDF 1.72Mb) includes a poster, 1940’s recipes, lyrics to 1940’s songs and a ‘how-to’ guide to dancing the Lindy Hop Swing

Join the festival

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, the National Army Museum and the Royal Air Force Museum are joining forces to host a free online festival, bringing to life the stories of those who helped deliver Victory in Europe.

Celebrations and tributes

You can also follow VE Day celebrations and tributes, Friday 8 May, on social media and BBC One:

11:00am

The nation observes a two-minute silence

11.15am

VE75 livestream, on the Royal British Legion Facebook page, which will see TV presenter Sonali Shah, bringing different generations together to share experiences, stories and memories Facebook page.

Coverage on BBC One

2.45pm

A special tribute to the Second World War generation, including Churchill’s powerful address to the nation, stirring military music, moving personal testimony and readings from VIPS and celebrities.

8pm

An evening of memories and music featuring some of those who remember this historic day, and some of Britain’s favourite performers singing popular songs of the era.

9pm

Her Majesty the Queen’s address to the nation, followed by a fitting finale, with the nation asked to unite for a very special rendition of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ as a gesture of thanks to our veterans and in memory of our loved ones. You can find the words to the song at britishlegion.org.uk/stories/ve-day-singalong

9.10pm

Remembering Victory - a programme commemorating VE Day in 1945.

Image
VE Day street party in Warrington

VE Day street party in Warrington

Warrington's wartime role, 1939 - 1945

Every Warrington man, woman and child was affected in some way by the Second World War and the fight against Adolf Hitler and his allies. For many Warrington families even when the war was officially over life would never be quite the same again.

  • Many were killed or injured fighting for their country whilst others suffered in captivity as Prisoners of War.
  • Those men and women who had not been called up into the armed forces joined the Civil Defence Forces at home to protect Warrington people and property from enemy attacks.
  • Warringtonians lived through the terror of German air raids with the Thames Board bombing a particular local tragedy.
  • Everyone supported the war effort, by raising money to buy warships and aeroplanes and salvaging and recycling and Warrington Museum featured campaigns for Make Do and Mend and Digging for Victory.
  • All Warringtonians had to cope with rationing and shortages especially of food and clothes which continued even after the war in to the early 1950s.

During the Second World War Warrington was the site of several key military bases which today are mostly the site of new Warrington districts

Risley Ordnance Factory which filled, assembled and shipped out explosive shells. The complex opened in January 1940, and within two years was employing over 4000 people. Every day special trains carried the armies of munitions workers, the majority of them women, to the works. Risley became one of Britain’s largest wartime factories, shrouded in secrecy and absolutely vital to the massive war effort. (Risley & Birchwood)

Padgate Camp was a national training centre for RAF recruits. No. 3 RAF Depot Padgate opened in April 1939 (before Britain was officially at war.)  Its role was to provide basic training to raw recruits to the Royal Air Force.  By 1943 the camp’s weekly intake was 1,500 as the RAF steeped up its bombing campaign on Germany. Padgate Camp closed in 1957 and the site was later redeveloped by Warrington New Town, who named the nearby Insall Road after a former camp commander.

HMS Blackcap was a Royal naval air base at Stretton.

Burtonwood USAAF Airbase had the most impact on most local people’s lives.  From 1942 the American GIs became a familiar sight about the town. USAAF Burtonwood’s role in World War II was to keep the allied planes flying, especially in the bombing raids leading up to the D Day landings. In the summer of 1944 this was the largest factory in Europe, assembling bombers from pre-packaged kits from America with over 18,000 people based there. The noise of engines from the test beds were heard day and night over the town. Many local women became GI brides and Warrington forged close links with their American wartime allies and the town’s VJ Day celebrations had a special resonance.

This massive site included the future Callands, Westbrook, Chapelford, Gemini and Omega districts whilst the runway is now part of the M62 motorway.

Warrington's wartime industries

Many of Warrington’s industries made vital contributions to the war effort. 

Wire works such as Rylands and Greenings produced items ranging from springs for gun mechanisms, suspensions for tanks, the frame work for Morrison Shelters, supports for the Mulberry Harbour Bridges and wire mesh for gas masks.

Cardboard boxes for gas masks were produced at the Alliance Box Works and Thames Board Mills, which also produced boxes for Red Cross Parcels.

Other factories produced shell casings, prefabricated ships and vital chemicals, (including Crosfields, which produced soap and glycerine (for use in explosives.)

VE Day in Warrington and summer of events in 1945
  • Plans were already underway at the beginning of May ready for the expected ending of hostilities in Europe
  • A series of celebrations on VE Day 8 May across the town
  • 19 May - Walton Gardens opened to the public
  • Church services on May 20, including Civic Sunday at the Parish Church with a victory parade on the Town Hall lawn by a variety of armed forces, cadets, British Red Cross etc.
  • 29 June - Walking Day resumed after a five year lapse
  • 15-16 August - VJ celebrations across the town after news of surrender on 10 July
  • 18 August - Rugby football at Wilderspool stadium resumed after 6 year lapse
  • 18 August - ceremony at the Town Hall with presentation of a bronze plaque to the town by commander of USAAF base at Burtonwood, acknowledging welcome given to the Americans by the town.

An account of the events in Warrington Guardian Year Book for 1946 recorded:

“The year 1945 is one that will be remembered. It brought many numerous occasions. With the rest of the nation Warrington celebrated the victories over the Third Reich and Japan…and among events of local interest were a revival of the town’s traditional festival, Walking Day, and a visit by the town’s adopted warship, destroyer HMS Obdurate.

“On 8 May the inhabitants of Warrington and district gave themselves up to several days of revelry. Gay decorations appeared everywhere as if by magic…and almost every street had its outdoor tea party, games and dances. Services of thanksgiving were held at all the churches.”

Bank Park and the Town Hall lawn were the focus of celebrations on VE Day itself with fireworks and dancing to bands in the evening and similar events at Victoria Park and Orford Park. Street parties were held around the town with residents coming together to organise the events.