On 8th May 1945, Europe celebrated the surrender of Nazi forces. After almost 6 years of war on the continent, VE Day or Victory in Europe Day marked a day of national celebration. Across Northern Ireland, people took to the streets, joining family and friends in jubilant parties.
On Monday 7th May 1945, a radio broadcast instructed the nation to stand by for an important announcement at 1600hrs. No announcement came that day. At 1500hrs on Tuesday 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s distinctive tones came through on the wireless. He announced the Nazi surrender to thousands gathered around their sets across the United Kingdom. Word came from the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street, London that hostilities would end at 0001hrs on 9th May 1945.
VE Day in Belfast, 1945
For the first time in 6 years, friends and families celebrated together and feasted on cakes and special treats. The people of Northern Ireland partied in the streets until the early hours when bonfires were lit. For many though, the day was one of bittersweet celebration. Many families already knew their loved ones would never return. Others remained worried about family still fighting in the Pacific theatre.
People were happy but I was sad, Robert was still away at sea.
Betty Porter – Gilnahirk, Co. Down (2015)
Thousands of people filled towns and cities across the country. A weight had been lifted and for many, it was the first time to really enjoy themselves. Cecil Kennedy recounted his memories to the BBC.
Although I was almost eighteen years of age I had never been in a public bar, my friends, however, appeared to have had some experience in frequenting such premises, so I followed them into the Castle bar beside the Classic cinema. My inexperience quickly revealed itself as I had not the slightest idea what type of drink to ask for.
Cecil Kennedy – Belfast, Co. Antrim
Irish Regiments mark Victory in Europe
By VE Day in 1945, the Irish regiments had spread far and wide throughout the world.
- 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Dehra Dun, India.
- 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Udine, Italy.
- 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Lancaster, England.
- Depot Company Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
- 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles – Niendorf, Germany.
- 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles – Bremen and Delmenhorst, Germany.
- Depot Company Royal Ulster Rifles – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
- 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Cividale, Italy.
- 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Swansea, Wales.
- 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.
- Depot Company Royal Irish Fusiliers – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
- 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles – Doberdo, Italy.
- 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles – Udine and Plezzo, Italy.