Last week, Royal Circular promised that every day in the run up to VE Day 75 on Friday 8th May we would be posting articles that celebrated that momentous occasion. And we aim to not disappoint our readers!
And so our VE Day 75 celebrations and series begins and of course it could only begin with one man – Sir Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill became Prime Minister in May 1940, just eight months after the outbreak of the Second World War. He succeeded Neville Chamberlain who Churchill kept in his war cabinet as Lord President of the Council.
Aside from being Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during a dangerous national crisis, Churchill was to be regarded by many as a hero throughout the Second World War and his speeches have gone down in history.
It is one speech in particular that we want to celebrate today, a speech from the 8th May 1945, the speech that the nation had been waiting and wanting to hear for nearly six years, the speech that would signal the beginning of a new era for Britain and a speech that would mean this country could finally start to rebuild.
It was of course Winston Churchill’s Victory Speech signalling the end of the Second World War in Europe – Victory in Europe had been achieved and the 8th May would henceforth be known as Victory in Europe Day. Nearly 75 years to that day lets relive Churchill’s famous victory speech from Downing Street at 3pm when he informed the nation that Germany had surrendered and war was over.
Throughout the celebrations on the 8th May, Winston Churchill also spoke to the gathered crowds in Whitehall from the Ministry of Health building and this is what he had to say:
God bless you all. This is your victory! It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land. In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all.
My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or of any class. It’s a victory of the great British nation as a whole. We were the first, in this ancient island, to draw the sword against tyranny. After a while we were left all alone against the most tremendous military power that has been seen. We were all alone for a whole year.
There we stood, alone. Did anyone want to give in? Were we down-hearted? The lights went out and the bombs came down. But every man, woman and child in the country had no thought of quitting the struggle. London can take it. So we came back after long months from the jaws of death, out of the mouth of hell, while all the world wondered.
When shall the reputation and faith of this generation of English men and women fail? I say that in the long years to come not only will the people of this island but of the world, wherever the bird of freedom chirps in human hearts, look back to what we’ve done and they will say “do not despair, do not yield to violence and tyranny, march straightforward and die if need be-unconquered.”
Now we have emerged from one deadly struggle-a terrible foe has been cast on the ground and awaits our judgment and our mercy.
But there is another foe who occupies large portions of the British Empire, a foe stained with cruelty and greed-the Japanese. I rejoice we can all take a night off today and another day tomorrow. Tomorrow our great Russian allies will also be celebrating victory and after that we must begin the task of rebuilding our health and homes, doing our utmost to make this country a land in which all have a chance, in which all have a duty, and we must turn ourselves to fulfil our duty to our own countrymen, and to our gallant allies of the United States who were so foully and treacherously attacked by Japan. We will go hand and hand with them. Even if it is a hard struggle we will not be the ones who will fail.
Following the declaration that war had ended, crowds began to gather all across London – in Picadilly, Trafalgar Square and outside Buckingham Palace where Winston Churchill would soon appear on the balcony with King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.
That however is a story for another day…