May 8 – V-E Day

The Queen Elizabeth returns troops to NYC

The Queen Elizabeth returns troops to NYC

On May 8, 1945, millions of people around the globe took to the streets to celebrate the World War II surrender of Germany on what came to be known as Victory in Europe Day, or V-E Day. At 2:41 a.m. local time the previous day, representatives from the victorious Allied nations met with German officials in Reims, France, to sign the official surrender documents but, in accordance with an earlier agreement between leaders in the United States, Soviet Union and United Kingdom, the news of the end of hostilities on the continent was withheld for 24 hours and announced simultaneously on the 8th. In London, spotlights in the form of a “V” for victory were turned on over St. Paul’s Cathedral—although it took some time to get them working again after nearly six years of wartime blackouts. In the United States a newly sworn-in president got a very unusual birthday present. And in the Soviet Union, a powerful leader was already planning his next, post-war moves. Millions had been killed, rationing continued and there was still three months of deadly fighting ahead, but for a few hours, the world stopped to commemorate and celebrate. As we remember its 68th anniversary, here are some surprising facts you may not know about V-E Day.

V-E Day in NYC

V-E Day in NYC

Susan Hibbert, a British secretary stationed at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in Reims, France, began working on a series of documents and cables to world leaders informing them of the impending surrender. , didn’t finish until 20 hours later. Finally, at around 2:30 am May 7, Hibbert and other staffers crowded into a conference room to witness one of the most momentous events of the 20th century. Curiously, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander and architect of the successful war strategy, didn’t attend the ceremony, and was instead represented by his chief of staff Walter Bedell Smith. He did, however, decide how the historic news would be relayed around the world. While many on his staff pressed for a strongly worded declaration of victory, “Ike” overruled them, instead crafting a far simpler message to announce the end of six deadly years of conflict: “The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 0241, local time, May 7th, 1945.”Joseph Stalin insisted on a second surrender ceremony.
When Soviet leader Joseph Stalin heard about the surrender ceremony in Reims, he was none too pleased. He declared that the U.S.S.R’s representative there, Ivan Susloparov, had not been authorized to sign the document and that the wording differed from a previous agreement Stalin had approved. Stalin, who ensured Soviet troops were the first to arrive in Berlin in an effort to secure control of the city before the Allies, also refused to accept a surrender signed on French soil, and declared the Reims document simply a preliminary surrender. Stalin’s remarks caused massive confusion; German radio announced that the Axis may have surrendered on the Western Front, but remained at war with the Soviets, and fighting continued throughout the day on May 8. Finally, just before midnight (in the early hours of the 9th, Moscow time), another hastily assembled ceremony got underway in Soviet-controlled Berlin.

Halifax, Canada - V-E Day 1945

Halifax, Canada, V-E Day

V-E Day sparked the deadly Halifax Riot. 
Unfortunately, not every V-E Day celebration ended peacefully. For six years tensions had been rising in the critical Canadian port city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, as thousands of sailors flooded the city, more than doubling its population. With housing, commodities and entertainment in short supply, prices were high and tempers were extremely short. On May 7, when word reached the city of the impending surrender, business leaders, fearing an influx of servicemen in search of a celebration, decided to close all liquor stores, restaurants and stores, while the city suspended local transportation. Despite these concerns, the nearby military base’s commander gave more than 10,000 sailors temporary leave to enjoy the end of the war downtown. Angered at what they considered gross mistreatment by city residents, and with little in the way of peaceful diversions, the men eventually began to riot, looting retail stores and liquor outlets and starting dozens of fires. The Halifax Riot continued into May 8, with another 9,000 sailors teeming into town. By the time order was restored and the looting had stopped late that afternoon, three servicemen were dead, 360 had been arrested and the city had suffered more than $5 million in damages—$62 million in today’s money.

 

Reims, France - site of German surrender 1945

                                                                             Reims, France – site of German surrender 1945

The location of the surrender was known as France’s city of kings. 

050506VEDay

by: John Fewings

Information courtesy of History.com

To view previous V-E Day posts – CLICK HERE and then HERE.

ve-day-70th-anniversary

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Political Cartoons ~ from back in the day ~

szyk6

by: Arthur Szyk (1894-1951)

There you are! Don't lose it again!

There you are! Don’t lose it again!

From: The Register, Idaho Falls, ID

From: The Register, Idaho Falls, ID

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Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur Barnett – Hibiscus Coast, NZ; NZ Army # 614348, WWII, 24th Battalion Infantry, Pvt.

Morton Cominsky – Richmond Hil, NY; US Navy, WWII

Once a soldier, always a soldier.

Once a soldier, always a soldier.

Sheila Ede – brn: Darlington, ENG/Alberta, CAN; British Air Force, WWII

Cary Jarvis – Norfolk, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ralph Jeffers – Ocean Township, NJ; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Curtiss (Pearl Harbor)

Charles Keating – Paradise Valley, AZ; US Navy, Iraq, SEAL, KIA (despite Obama refusing to call this a combat death)

Tommy Kono – Sacramento, CA;  Tule Interment Camp, WWII/US Army, Korea, Olympic Gold medalist

Frank Livingston (110) – North LA; US Army, WWII, ETO

F. Haydn Williams – Oakland, CA; US Navy, WWII, Asst. Sec. of Defense

Peter Woznicki – Trumbull, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 7, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 127 Comments.

  1. My brother and I were among the throng that converged on Buckingham Palace; The night was great, actually first time in my life I could recall seeing street lights working, they’d been off for so long. There was a great outdoor street party and a huge bonfire where people managed to get the food for the party is still beyond me but they did.
    It was a great time to be alive!

    Like

    • I suppose, despite the war going on for years, people usually have a ‘nest egg’ or save a certain bottle of champagne for that ‘special day’ and V-E Day fit that bill.
      It was a bigger day in Europe than in the US being as we still had so many fighting in the PTO and CBI.

      Like

      • There certainly was a bottle of Champagne my father had tucked away, why is beyond me, He had a glass of beer at times, really enjoyed his Scotch but the froggie stuff? never, but on this occasion he did, my brother and I although still only boys were both given a small glass of the stuff, and I’ve never liked it since!

        Like

        • It was the symbolism that counted, not the taste or enjoyment. I suppose you boys were too young to understand at the time.

          Like

          • Actaully GP we were well aware of what was going on, it was not possible to be ignorant

            When it came to the Champagne bit ,I doubt my father would have remembered giving it to us, He had plenty to celebrate.

            As he did essential “war work’ he had to enlist in the “home guard’ , (BBC TV series “Dads Army”) was a send up of the men who did great work from 1939 to 1945

            I don’t know if it got shown in the US anyway he’d come home from working like a dog, he was a blacksmith at the gasworks that supplied Londons Gas, have his ‘tea’ change into his army uniform and march off to the town park which was where the anti-aircraft battery was stationed, there to sit at his gun waiting for Jerry to come over so that he could shoot them down, after which he’d come home have whatever breakfast there was then toddle off to the gasworks again.

            Twice during the war he was put forward for the Military Medal for his bravery and he told the authorities to shove their medals up their arse and give him ten quid so that he could buy some decent meat on the blackmarket for his boys.

            Naturally they didn’t give him anything!

            He had good reason to celebrate and not recall giving his two sons Champagne

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much for this. My parents and grandparents became refugees during WW II. V-E Day has personal significance for me.

    Like

  3. Your work just gets better and better. I learned a ton from this post. I knew very little about VE Day. I may be co-teaching world history next year so this is especially interesting to me, thank you yet again for an outstanding post.

    Like

    • Hope I can do more for you in the future – just ask. If you can’t locate something in the Search slot – give me a holler!! If I can’t answer a question, I try to locate someone who can.

      Like

  4. Hi gp, I was vaguely aware there was a second surrender to placate the Russians, thanks for that info, also I never new of the chaos of the Halifax scenario, what a monstrous error in allowing so many troops freedom to celebrate at that time. Not a well defined move.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on itkindofgotawayfromyou and commented:
    I reblog this post from a very well researched and interesting blog: Pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Queen Elizabeth held quite the boatload of returning military. Can only imagine the thrill of setting foot again on US soil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep trying to imagine how the ship stayed afloat when the troops finally saw Lady Liberty in the harbor!! And, yikes – try feeding that many people!!!

      Like

  7. This Day was the mix of happiness with sorrow and tears for many people. For my grandmothers this Day was Remembrance Day for all their life because they’ve lost four sons and one was badly injured. That was the cost of Victory for millions of families.

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    • I am so very sorry for the loss your family endured. I try with each post to stress what that generation went through so that this and future generations could live in peace. It breaks my heart to see what some are trying to do to that. We work hard each day to make certain their sacrifices were not in vain. Thank you for sharing your family’s story Alexander.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Cartoons can be very candid (and almost always ignored by the folks concerned).

    Number three above is looking back, number two above is looking forwards with a sad resignation (no wonder the wounded guy has that expression on his face).

    Makes me recall that slogan from the flower-power generation “What if they threw a war … and no-one came?”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is never I time that I visit your blog that I don’t learn something. Thank you for the VE Day story, and the details and photos that you included.
    I’d not heard of the Nova Scotia rioting … goodness!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nothing says party like closing all the liquor stores.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can’t believe how crowded the ship was. Also, I did not know about the Halifax riots. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’ve not read your post yet, but wanted to assure you that “the check is in the mail.” I got delayed for a couple of reasons, but you should receive the little parcel by Wednesday or Thursday. I sent it with tracking, so it won’t disappear.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful post. I’d never known about Stalin’s insistence on a second surrender ceremony nor about the Halifax riots. Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. That’s quite a photo of the Queen Elizabeth!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That is amazing to see that many troops on the ship!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “Once a soldier, always a soldier.”
    That picture has great impact. I’m going to try to include it in Profile’s home page. Thanks for this post, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Hope we can again celebrate justice from tyranny. Thank you Pacific Paratrooper for all of your historical wartime shares !!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A day that changed the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Business leaders of Halifax were smart weren’t they? Fuck 3 dead after victory declared. There were a lot of similar unfortunate and unnecessary deaths in those last days of the war. Some of these posters were very touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. They deserve our respect! I like in particular the last photo, and the message beneath it. Is good to remember! Catalin

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Those posters remind us that ‘victory’ came at a huge cost! Very poignant indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Yes, quite a day for those that went through so much. That last picture says so much and understand why they wouldn’t celebrate. Excellent post, Everett!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Good reminder GP! We must never forget the fallen.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I can only imagine the joy that was felt. What a day.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. .By VE Day mother and her colleagues were preparing to move their operation from London to Australia – to make radios for the resistance movements in the Pacific theatre.

    She remembers the sheer outburst of joy….and the lights after all those years of the blackout!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t even try to imagine what the people in the UK felt after all that time!! Your mother certainly deserves commendation for her wish to contribute.

      Like

  26. V E Day. Thank you for the reminder. we always used to celebrate this day when I was young but the younger generation has probably never even studied about VE Day. Now, I remember celebrating the “End Of the War” But now, I don’t know if was the actual end of WW2 totally, or VE Day. I was 6 years old and visiting my cousin at her home in Lisbon Falls, ME when my uncle came home from work and told us the war had ended and he was going back down town to celebrate, we little kids wanted to go. He told us no, it might get a little rough, so he told us we could go around the neighborhood banging on pans and cheering. My cousin was 4. And we did exactly what he told us we could. I remember having a great time banging and cheering. Good memories for hard times.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I recently heard a man in church describe this day. He was a child living in Logan, Utah. They were working in the yard and heard a lot of commotion. They found out what was going on and his dad had everyone hop into the car. They drove down to main street and rode up and down main street. At every stop light everyone would get out of their cars, hug everyone else and then get back in and keep going. He said he’d never hugged so many strangers in all his life. Everyone was cheering, honking, and just joyous. What a happy day for so many people.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. After years of war, it’s kind of sad to think that “decided to close all liquor stores” could be consider “gross mistreatment” but I guess I get it.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Thanks again GP. Also today is Coral Sea Day. But nobody in Australia seems to know.or remember. https://anzacday.org.au/ww2-the-battle-of-the-coral-sea

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world and commented:
    This is a fantastic article from a great website, please give it a few of your moments, it is a very informative blog site.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I can imagine the relief that so many people felt . . except that there was still Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And now, after 3.5 years into the war, was when FDR planned to give the Pacific the equipment and men they needed to win – but it was nearly complete, even without the great ‘Europe First” plan of operation.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. As always, thank you for the great information, you are always a very good read I always enjoy seeing your site pop up on my screen.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. pastopresent

    Thank you for sharing this. It was a remarkable day. Since you deal with the Pacific Wars I think you might interested in a few posts on my blog! 1. https://discoverwwiinow.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/southwest-usa-san-diego-part-2/
    2. Also, Ancestry.com just made all their WWII content available for free till May 15th! Check it out, here: https://discoverwwiinow.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/declassified-all-of-fold3s-wwii-data/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great site and links, John. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pastopresent

        Thank You. I was wondering if you could give me any tips for increasing my audience. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

        Like

        • Oh, there’s the usual – use your Tags; follow blogs you’re interested in and check as often as possible on your Reader page for their new posts. Add your Tags to the Reader’s tags and check on them often. Be courteous to each person who is there by checking up on their site to see if you are of similar interests. (A person may be blogging about NYC, but also has interests in history and geography or music – who knows?) So check them out. It’s not a fly-by-night proposition if you really want to make a dent on the internet.

          Liked by 1 person

  34. I wonder how many more lives Stalin’s extension of the war by one more day cost.
    The political cartoons are always very good but there’s a lot of sadness in the second and third today.
    Hugs

    Liked by 2 people

    • If Stalin cost just one more life – it was too many.
      Those political cartoons were made at the time and felt it necessary to show there are always more sides to every story – including such a great day as this! Thanks for being here , David.

      Like

  35. Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten too. I think, sadly, that the last two cartoons say the most about the end of the war in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. We must never forget. Celebration is as important as expressing deep gratitude.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Despite the celebrations being justified in Europe, we still had the war in the Pacific hanging over us for some time after. It often seems that VJ Day got lost in the euphoria after VE day, and perhaps deserves to be better celebrated. Or maybe it was because the Atom bombs were used, that people seem to want to think less about it.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Everyone seems to stress the atomic bomb, so you could very well be right, Pete. What gets me – there was so much damage to those cities from incendiary bombs, etc., IMO, they were unnecessary – a grandstand play by Washington to justify the over-whelming millions (actually billions) used to develop them – that even Congress knew nothing about!!

      Like

  38. That last cartoon from The Register is a poignant reminder of the experience of countless families after the war.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Thank you foir this post. I forgot tomorrow is V-E Day. Also, never knew about the Halifax riot. Interesting. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. The topmost cartoon reminded me of a conversation I had several years ago. I was inspecting one of my reserve units and encountered the janitor for the armory. He apparently enjoyed a liquid lunch as he slurred his words, but he said to me, “Say … you know the best damn army in the history of the world was the German army during World War II. My response: Really? Then how was it that we kicked their butts twice in the same century? He said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

    Like

  41. A wealth if information and entertaining history Brad. I enjoyed this very much. I can only imagine the sheer excitement and importance of these historical events!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. It must have been an amazing day for the people who live through those times. I always like the succinct nature of General Eisenhower’s radio message to the Joint Chiefs of staff, which I think was something like: “The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 3 a.m., local time, May 7, 1945.”

    Liked by 3 people

  43. I always forget this important date. I think most do. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: May 8 – V-E Day | Practically Historical

  2. Pingback: May 8 – V-E Day | Scherbius's child

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