VE Day

In the small hours of the morning of 7 May 1945, General Alfred Jodl signed an  unconditional surrender. The lack of any official confirmation or announcement left some uncertainty about when VE Day would be held. Nevertheless, there was a steady demand for flags and flags went up on various prominent buildings. The 9 o’clock news of that evening announced that the next day 8 May was to be the VE Day holiday.

Although relief from the immediate threat was apparent, it was fully realised that this was only one stage in the end of the war. Many people celebrated with bonfires and for the younger children it was the first time they had seen a bonfire.

At 3.00pm people gathered to hear Mr Churchill’s announcement. The King’s speech came at 9.00pm.

In Bradford there was a parade in the morning followed by a service of thanksgiving at the cathedral. In the evening the Town Hall was illuminated with a sign 1939 – 1945 and an illumination of Churchill.

In Keighley a battalion of the Durham Light Infantry who had been stationed in the district for some months held a thanksgiving service in Victoria Park. After the service a wreath was laid on the cenotaph in Town Hall Square by two officers of the battalion.

In the afternoon drenching rain sent everybody indoors but the weather cleared towards the evening.

In Ilkley a bonfire was lit in the Holmes field at 10.00pm by four men who had recently returned from prisoner of war camps. Before the fire was lit, the chairman of the UD Council, Mr Milnes, speaking from a loud-speaker van said: ‘Generations to come will read the records of our country’s achievements with wonder and admiration…after nearly six years of bitter struggle and achievement, it is fitting that on this day of victory we should rejoice that bloodshed has ceased in Europe and in this country, but our rejoicing should be tempered by the  knowledge that our men are still fighting in the East, and neither must we forget on this day all those who have suffered and those who will not return.’ (Ilkley Gazette)

Take a look at this fascinating short film from the British Film Institute here:

V.E. Day Civic Service, Bradford

Images thanks to Keighley News and Ilkley Gazette

Caroline Brown

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