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1945: Rejoicing at end of war in Europe

AUDIO : Winston Churchill addresses the nation

The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, has officially announced the end of the war with Germany.

In a message broadcast to the nation from the Cabinet room at Number 10, he said the ceasefire had been signed at 0241 yesterday at the American advance headquarters in Rheims.

Huge crowds, many dressed in red, white and blue, gathered outside Buckingham Palace in London and were cheered as the King, Queen and two Princesses came out onto the balcony.

Earlier tens of thousands of people had listened intently as the King's speech was relayed by loudspeaker to those who had gathered in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square.


"Winston Churchill made a broadcast to the nation, and in his wonderful and dramatic way told us that war was over"


In it he paid tribute to the men and women who had laid down their lives for victory as well as to all those who had "fought valiantly" on land, sea and in the air.

The act of unconditional surrender is to be ratified in Berlin today - but in the interest of saving lives the ceasefire came into effect yesterday.

In his speech, Mr Churchill said: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.

"We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance Britannia."

Even after dark, floods of people continued to converge on some of London's great monuments, floodlit specially for the occasion. There were fireworks, too, and effigies of Hitler burned on bonfires around the capital.

Later Mr Churchill was greeted by cheering crowds as he made his way to Whitehall and appeared on the flag-bedecked balcony of the Ministry of Health.

"God bless you all," he said over the loudspeaker, which was greeted with further cheering and waving from the crowd and a round of "For he's a jolly good fellow".

In Context
The act of surrender was signed again in Berlin the following day before Marshal Georgi Zhukov, representing the Russian High Command.

Also present at the signing were Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, General Carl Spaatz of the United States Air Forces and General Jean-Marie de Lattre de Tassigny of the French First Army.

The Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, refused to accept the surrender signed in Rheims - probably because he suspected the motives of the Western Allies and Germany. He insisted the treaty was ratified in Berlin the following day, so Moscow celebrated VE Day one day later than the rest of Europe, on 9 May.

A victory parade was held in London on 10 August 1945 when once again huge crowds of cheering, flag-waving crowds took to the streets.

Following the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the deaths of tens of thousands of people, Japan surrendered on 14 August 1945. Victory in Japan Day was celebrated on 15 August. It is also marked on 2 September, the day Japan signed an unconditional ceasefire.


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