Victory in Europe Day marked Germany’s unconditional surrender on Tuesday, 8 May 1945, meaning the end of World War II in Europe. This is often abbreviated to VE Day.
On this day throughout the Western world, Celebrations erupted, and in the especially in the UK more than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout the UK to mark the end of the European part of the war.
VE Day in Dacorum
On VE Day, the people of Dacorum celebrated Victory in Europe with their family, friends and neighbours. The gazette reported “thousands of flags, dancing, singing and bonfires dotted all over…” and “happy people filled the streets dancing and singing until the early hours of the following morning.” In Berkhamsted people gathered to watch a parade of service personnel, including the Land Army and Home Guard and street parties were held throughout the borough. Although the official end of the blackout was not until 15th July 1945, bonfires were lit in celebration. The Hemel Hempstead gazette reported there were “dozens of other bonfires in various parts of the town to make up for the absence of an official one” and one in Wigginton is reported to been visible over several miles.
Victory bonus for Dickinson’s workers
In September 1945 workers at John Dickinson and Co. Ltd were thanked for their ‘loyal and sustained service during the War period’ with a victory bonus. During the Second World War John Dickinson and Co. Ltd had converted their various mill sites into factories for manufacturing a whole variety of products for the war effort. Among the ingenious items were petrol tanks for long-range fighters and bombers made of paper, which could be jettisoned after use. It enabled these aircrafts to travel much longer distances without the need to refuel.
Church bells were heard throughout Dacorum for the first time in six years
The bell ringers of St Peter’s in Berkhamsted Thanksgiving services were held throughout Dacorum to mark the end of hostilities in Europe and remember the lives lost. For the first time since war was declared the church bells in all the towns and villages of Dacorum could be heard ringing across the district, heralding victory in Europe and hope for the future. The bells of the parish church at Kings Langley were rung by four of the bell ringers who had performed the same duty at the end of the First World War and the bells of St Mary’s Church, Hemel Hempstead, rang from 2.00pm to 5.00pm on the second day of the national holidays. The sound of bells has always been important throughout British history, calling people together at difficult times and in moments of celebration.
Looking for VE Day related activities?
Make some bunting and decorate your house or garden for a VE day celebration of your own. Play 1940’s music and make a party lunch using only what you could have bought with your food rations.
The National Trust have a wartime recipe for carrot cake you might like to try or perhaps you would prefer their recipe for carrot cookies . Or search for wartime recipes online for inspiration. Send us photos of your mini at home street party or share them yourself via social media using the hashtag #dacorumheritage #armedforcesday
Make a party hat to wear at your VE day party using this template or design your own.
Watch this two minute film made last year to celebrate the 74th anniversary of VE Day in Dacorum