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VE Day Celebrations

Birmingham Remembers VE Day

Dressing up to celebrate VE Day

The war in Europe came to an end on May 7th 1945 with General Jodl and Grand Admiral Donitz signing the unconditional surrender of all German, land, sea and air forces in Europe.

The joyful news gradually leaked out during the day with some people in Birmingham at first refusing to believe it could be true. But at last official confirmation came and the next day May 8th was declared a national holiday, V.E. Day.

VE Day celebrations outside Birmingham Council House


The morning started with dismal rain and the hastily prepared bunting and decorations from the previous night already looked a bit bedraggled, but as shafts of sunlight began to break through spirits rose and as some prepared for the afternoons street parties many other people made their way into the city centre and gathered in Victoria Square expecting to hear Winston Churchill 3pm broadcast. They were disappointed to find that no arrangements had been made, as the official thanksgiving and other ceremonies had been arranged for the following day.


Fancy dress for a street party VE Day

The Lord Mayor, Alderman W.T.Wiggins-Davies, valiantly did his best by propping open the window of his office in the council house and placing his own radio on the window ledge. He then lead the crowd below in community singing.

This oversight was rectified for the king's broadcast at 9pm and the huge city centre crowd were able to hear this clearly relayed through loudspeakers. .In the suburbs the afternoon and evening were given over to children parties with furniture and tables brought into the street and races and other events organised for after tea.

Street party in Bacchus Road


In the evening adults brought pianos, gramophones and wireless sets onto the pavement for dancing and as it grew dark hundreds of bonfires made from wood gathered from bomb sites, broken furniture and even privet hedges were lit all over the city with partygoers dancing around them until late in the evening.

More images of VE Day street parties
'Lest We Forget' Exhibition