UK remembers the end of World War Two on VE Day anniversary

  • Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The UK commemorated the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day on Friday, remembering those who fought and died in World War Two.

A two-minute national silence was observed at 11am to honour the memories of the British servicemen and women who gave their lives during the conflict.

The silence was led by Prince Charles and Camilla from Scotland, where they are self-isolating.

Boris Johnson marked the silence in Downing Street, as millions across the country paused at 11am to remember the price so many paid for freedom.

  • The UK observes the two-minute silence to remember those who died in the conflict

The Red Arrows flew over London, while RAF Typhoons appeared above Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast as the air force paid its respects.

Although large-scale public events are unable to go ahead, because of coronavirus restrictions, tributes will be paid by politicians and members of the royal family.

Friday commemorates the official surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied forces on May 8 1945, following World War Two.

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows pass over the London Eye. Credit: PA

Marie Scott, a switchboard operator during the war, was present at the VE Day celebrations at The Mall and watched as the royal family and Winston Churchill waved to the millions who celebrated in the streets below.

"The crowds were getting thicker and thicker, and in the end you could barely walk, it was just a tremendous feeling of relief, that you didn't have to worry about bombs, V bombs, whatever, and we could start to live our lives normally again," she told ITV News.

In a VE Day message, Boris Johnson said crowds gathered in "cities scarred by enemy bombing" to give "thanks for a national exertion,greater than anything else before or since."

He said the coronavirus pandemic now "demands the same spirit of national endeavour."

"All of us who were born since 1945 are acutely conscious that we owe everything we most value to the generation who won the Second World War," he added.

"Today we celebrate their achievement, we remember their sacrifice and we take pride in being their compatriots.

"We are a free people because of everything they did - and our gratitude will be eternal."

Members of the public observe the two-minute silence. Credit: PA

The prime minister visited Westminster Abbey to pay respects to fallen soldiers on Thursday and was welcomed to the abbey by the Dean of Westminster, Reverend Dr David Hoyle.

He was invited to light a candle at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior and a moment of silence was then observed to remember all those who lost their lives during World War Two followed by a short prayer from Rev Hoyle.

Huge crowds at Trafalgar Square celebrate VE Day in 1945. Credit: PA

The prime minister has written to veterans to assure them that despite the ongoing lockdown, they and their efforts to defeat a “ruthless enemy” would not be forgotten.

“We cannot pay our tribute with the parades and street celebrations we enjoyed in the past; your loved ones may be unable to visit in person,” he said in the letter.

“But please allow us, your proud compatriots, to be the first to offer our gratitude, our heartfelt thanks and our solemn pledge: you will always be remembered.”

Credit: PA Graphics

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will also release a pre-recorded commemorative message to mark VE Day, and tributes will be offered by speakers in both the House of Commons and Lords.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby will reflect on the “courage and sacrifice” of the war generation, describing reconciliation and hope as the “two great tributes we can pay”.

Young London residents celebrate VE-Day amidst the ruins of their home in Battersea. Credit: PA

At 9pm, the Queen will address the nation in a televised message – the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a speech over the radio three-quarters of a century earlier.

It will be the monarch's second televised address in only a few weeks, after her message of hope last month about the Covid-19 pandemic, in which she told Brits we will overcome the virus and “we will meet again.”

The Queen’s televised address on the 75th anniversary of VE Day will be the sixth broadcast by the head of state to the nation via the television during her reign.

The nation is also invited to come together in a rendition of We’ll Meet Again following the Queen’s address.

An image of the Queen during her broadcast on the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA

Captain Tom Moore, who raised more than £30 million for the NHS in April, will share his memories of wartime in an ITV documentary called Captain Tom’s War, which airs at 8pm.

In it he recalls having his spirits lifted by Dame Vera Lynn, whose songs include We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs Of Dover.

“She did a little song for us, so it really boosted the morale of everybody,” he said, adding: "She was great."

  • ITV News Reporter Dan Rivers reports from a socially distant street party marking the occasion:

Communities across the country have held events to mark the day, working to maintain social distancing measures while still commemorating the occasion.

At one street party - with attendees sitting two metres apart - neighbours delivered a box of street party treats to June Mann.

Her father was killed not long before the end of the war.

While for veteran Stanley Northeast, the occasion brings back mixed memories - jubilation at the end of the conflict, but reflection on the friends he lost.

He said: "At my age, I always think of my comrades that I lost on D-Day."

"Those memories still flash back to me".