Katherine Jenkins will perform to an empty Royal Albert Hall tomorrow night as she performs a behind closed doors concert for the first time in the venue’s 150-year history.

The 39-year-old classical singer will boost the morale of millions trapped indoors in Britain with a 30-minute performance marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day on Friday, May 8 at 6pm. 

Bringing together countless nations affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Katherine will sing wartime classics by Dame Vera Lynn, including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover. 

News of Katherine’s upcoming performance comes amid preparations for the Victory in Europe Day anniversary tomorrow, with bunting and Union Jack flags adorning households across the country.   

‘In London on VE Day 1945, over a million people celebrated Victory in Europe and the end of nearly six years of war,’ Welsh-born singer Katherine proclaimed.

‘Crowds gathered en masse in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.

‘Whilst we may not be able to celebrate this year as we once did, it’s only right that we don’t allow the 75th anniversary of this historic day to be overshadowed.’

‘Having been part of the 60th and 70th events, I wanted to do something to help bring the nation and the world together in commemoration and celebration at this difficult time. 

‘I’m excited that we can still come together, albeit virtually, for a tribute of wartime songs and musical memories from London’s most iconic concert venue. 

‘The Royal Albert Hall will be seen like never before-  empty, isolated and yet still breathtakingly magnificent!’ 

Concert: Katherine Jenkins will play to an empty Royal Albert Hall as she performs a behind closed doors concert for the first time ever in honour of VE Day on Friday evening

Katherine Jenkins will play to an empty Royal Albert Hall as she performs a behind closed doors concert for the first time ever

Bringing together countless nations affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Katherine will perform a rendition of classic wartime songs by Dame Vera Lynn (pictured), including We'll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover

Bringing together countless nations affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Katherine will perform a rendition of classic wartime songs by Dame Vera Lynn (pictured), including We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Residents of Portsmouth decorate their home in Union Jack bunting and flags (pictured, Katie Warton with her daughter Evie  in preparation of VE Day tomorrow)

Residents of Portsmouth decorate their home in Union Jack bunting and flags (pictured, Katie Warton with her daughter Evie  in preparation of VE Day tomorrow)

Thousands up and down the country are set to take part in celebrations for VE Day which marks the moment the Second World War ended in Europe on May 8, 1945.

And while this year the coronavirus lockdown has meant that hundreds of celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary have had to be cancelled, others have adapted and are going ahead.

In the same way that millions of Britons have used technology to satisfy their pub quiz itches, see family members, and even get married, VE Day 2020 is taking place at home and online.

Organisations across the UK will be marking the occasion by taking part in the Nation’s Toast, cooking with ration books or even planning a #VEDay75stayathome party.

At 11.15am, the Royal British Legion is inviting the nation to make a cup of tea and listen to its VE Day 75 Livestream via the Legion’s Facebook page or website (britishlegion.org.uk).

At 2.45pm, BBC1 will broadcast Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech. Then, at 2.55pm, as BBC coverage continues, the nation’s buglers, trumpeters and cornet players will perform the Last Post from their gardens. 

Molly Meeking, age seven, proudly waves a Union Jack flag against bunting and flags outside her Portsmouth house in preparation of VE Day tomorrow

Molly Meeking, age seven, proudly waves a Union Jack flag against bunting and flags outside her Portsmouth house in preparation of VE Day tomorrow

While this year the coronavirus lockdown has meant that hundreds of celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary have had to be cancelled, others have adapted and are going ahead (pictured, residents in Portsmouth)

While this year the coronavirus lockdown has meant that hundreds of celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary have had to be cancelled, others have adapted and are going ahead (pictured, residents in Portsmouth) 

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek and his dog Wilson, as he decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek and his dog Wilson, as he decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Bruno Peek has adorned his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Bruno Peek has adorned his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Sing along with Vera Lynn: Celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day with this definitive TV guide

A definitive guide to how you can enjoy the celebrations on TV on Friday

FRIDAY, MAY 8

The Nation Remembers

BBC1, 11am

Nationwide two-minute silence to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, paying tribute to heroes past and present.

The Announcement Of Victory

BBC1, 2.45pm

Tribute to the war generation including Churchill’s radio address from Downing Street at 3pm on May 8, 1945, announcing the end of hostilities. Celebrities will read personal testimonies from the day’s celebrations, there’ll be music by military bands, and Prince Charles will read an extract from his grandfather George VI’s diary for May 8.

The One Show

BBC1, 7pm

Hour-long special.

The People’s Celebration

BBC1, 8pm

Hosted by Sophie Raworth, an evening’s entertainment with some of Britain’s top musical talent performing songs from the 1930s and 1940s, such as Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover and When The Lights Go On Again. Artists include Katherine Jenkins, Adrian Lester, Anton Du Beke, Shane Richie and Helen George. Interviews with those who remember the day.

The Queen

BBC1, 9pm

At the exact time of day that her father, George VI, spoke to the nation in 1945, Her Majesty makes her own address. Followed by the whole country joining a singalong of We’ll Meet Again, led by Dame Vera Lynn, 103, from a window at her home in Sussex.

REMEMBERING VICTORY

BBC1, 9.10pm

Sir David Attenborough, Patrick Stewart and June Whitfield, among others, share memories of the end of the conflict.

CAPTAIN TOM’S WAR

ITV, 8pm, ITV

Documentary about former Army officer Captain Tom Moore, 100, just made an honorary colonel after raising more than £32 million for the NHS by doing laps of his garden. Features Tom’s time serving in India and Burma.

DAD’S ARMY

ITV, 8.30pm

Film remake from 2016 of the classic series, starring Toby Jones, Bill Nighy and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

OTHER TV CHANNELS

VE DAY: THE LOST FILMS

C5, 7pm

Eyewitness accounts and cine films of everyday life – some in colour.

TONY ROBINSON’S VE DAY

The Discovery Channel, 9pm

Presented by Tony Robinson. The day retold minute by minute, from soldiers’ first tentative steps out of PoW camps to Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret slipping out of Buckingham Palace to mingle unrecognised with the public.

VE DAY IN COLOUR

Together TV, 9.30pm

Memories of the day from servicemen such as the PoWs who yearned for their first hot bath for years.

RACE TO VICTORY

History UK, 9pm

Analysis of the uneasy alliance formed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin against Hitler.

RADIO

Jeremy Vine show special

Radio 2, 12pm

FULL WORKS CONCERT

Classic FM, 8pm

Concert of music and words presented by Sir Nicholas Soames, who will recite famous quotes and speeches of his grandfather, Winston Churchill.

SPITFIRE: THE PEOPLE’s PLANE

BBC Sounds podcast available from May 8

Ten-part series presented by actress Tuppence Middleton about the fighter – which played an iconic role in the Battle of Britain – and its pilots.

OTHER PROGRAMMES 

OUR FINEST HOURS

Monday to Friday, BBC1 11.45am (different in Wales)

Sophie Raworth narrates a series comparing the Blitz spirit to how we’re now facing Covid-19.

BRITAIN’S GREATEST GENERATION

Monday to Thursday, BBC2, 7pm (6.30pm Thursday)

Four-part series on the inspirational stories of men and women who fought in or lived through the Second World War.

CHURCHILL

Monday to Thursday, BBC2, various times

Series profiling the man who symbolised Britain’s war effort. 

DAME VERA LYNN: WE’LL MEET AGAIN

Thursday, BBC1, 7.30pm

After the wartime singer’s recent We’ll Meet Again duet with Katherine Jenkins to raise money for the NHS went to No 1 in the iTunes chart, this film tells her remarkable life story with help from her daughter, Virginia.

RADIO

WITNESS HISTORY

Monday to Friday, BBC World Service, 8.50am and 12.50am

Series including first-hand archive accounts of Hitler’s death, the Soviet occupation of Berlin and how Germany has since commemorated VE Day.

ACROSS THE COUNTRY

Despite the cancellation of most public events, veterans and others are holding their own celebrations.

Anyone wanting to mark the anniversary is invited to have a tea party in their home and to make a toast at 3pm on Friday: ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you.’ This will be preceded by buglers across Britain playing The Last Post and Reveille at 2.55pm.

There’s an official website – at ve-vjday75.gov.uk – offering a ‘toolkit’ of bunting templates, colouring posters, a party playlist and menu suggestions.

The English Heritage website also offers a playlist and tips to dance in Lindy Hop style.

On Friday, members of the Royal Family and Government Ministers will take part in video calls with veterans, before the Queen addresses to the nation at 9pm, followed by the We’ll Meet Again singalong.

The website ancestry.co.uk is making all historical records free for the public from Monday until Sunday, giving people the opportunity to find out what their ancestors did in the war.

Families are invited to share their war stories on social media with the hashtag #VEDay75.

At 3pm it’s time to raise a glass as Dame Joan Collins, whose childhood home was destroyed in the Blitz as she slept in a Tube station, leads the Nation’s Toast from the balcony of her London apartment.

The toast, due to be broadcast on news channels, is on behalf of the women of the nation, acknowledging the many roles they played in the war. The public are encouraged to join in with the words: ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you.’

An evening of VE Day-themed viewing on the BBC will lead up to an address by the Queen at 9pm, the exact time her father spoke to the nation 75 years ago.

Then Dame Vera Lynn will lead what promises to be a very loud national rendition of We’ll Meet Again. A bit like the weekly Clap for Carers, the hope is that the British public will sing from their doorsteps.  

Actors, musical directors and choreographers have come together to perform an incredible socially distanced VE Day tribute from their doorways.

The 13 men and women paid tribute to the end of the Second World War with the performance, which included a rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s iconic We’ll Meet Again, outside their homes in Chester, Cheshire.

Composer and musical director Matt Baker, 49, can be seen in the video playing the accordion while his fellow thespian neighbours burst into song behind him in scenes reminiscent of a slickly-staged musical.

Matt, who has lived on the street for 23 years, made the suggestion to fellow residents during a clap for carers and the theatre fanatics, who coincidentally all moved to the same road, were keen to get involved – filming the whole thing in a single take with a mobile phone.

Matt said: ‘We’d usually have a street party on a day like VE Day, and hundreds of people would attend.

‘I had also been commissioned to do something for VE Day for the city’s commemorations anyway, but because of lockdown all that has been cancelled.

‘I realised on my own street there was not only really good community spirit but some performers too.

‘And luckily, there was also another director on the road, as well as singers, and a choreographer. It’s actually not a surprise so many artists live in a terraced street not far from a thriving cultural scene in the city of Chester.

‘Even the people who weren’t actors were really excited by it – people have been really excited about learning something from their front doors and gates.

‘We really wanted to do something that acknowledged the past generation, who would have come together in a time of adversity like that time during the Second World War.

‘We wanted to send a message to show that community spirit is really possible in these hard times.

‘We all had to rehearse at a real distance so we weren’t contravening the social distancing rules, and we managed to film it in one take.’

Choreographer and actor Lucy Thatcher, 39, sang It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow from her window with her two month old baby, Beatrix, in her arms while neighbour and theatre director, John Young, 29, filmed the whole performance on his mobile phone.

Matt sent out musical numbers via WhatsApp so the group could rehearse individually and they practised for just five evenings in total before filming the professional-seeming performance last Saturday.

The residents managed to keep more than the recommended two metre distance between them by marking out the street with chalk before they began.

Matt’s friend, who makes costumes, even dropped off authentic period 1940s outfits on their doorsteps but he said the toughest part was dressing in them without help.

The street, Cambrian Road, has always been a creative community, hosting small festivals and events, and there are several theatre companies in Chester too.

Matt said: ‘We chose some summer evenings to come out and rehearse together.

‘We had the costumes, but people didn’t know how to tie a 1940’s cravat and if someone else in the street did, they couldn’t help because we weren’t allowed near each other – so it was quite a challenge, but that added some humour.

‘We are a close community, we have a good relationship with the local schools and churches, we have garden parties, music concerts, local theatre and even football tournaments.

‘It’s a good place to live.’

The anniversary of VE Day brings back memories of parties, bonfires and the ringing of church bells for those who were celebrating at home 75 years ago.

Gillian Holding, 83, from Sheffield, was eight years old when victory in Europe was announced in 1945.

Despite being very young, she remembers growing up to the sound of planes flying overhead and bombs falling and carrying gas masks to and from school.

In 1945, Britons at home knew that the Germans were nearing defeat with the final surrender acting as the ‘climax’ of expectations, Ms Holding said.

‘Union Jack flags were put out of bedroom windows and there was a lot of consternation, I remember that some people didn’t get their flag right on the pole,’ she said.

‘I could hear them that night when I was in bed, singing and dancing down the main road where we lived. Very happy people.

‘My father, as soon as he knew the war had ended, went on the train to London to celebrate.

‘When I saw pictures of the crowds outside Buckingham Palace and the joy there, I could understand perhaps why he wanted to go.’

A party was organised on the green opposite her grandfather’s house, with a spread of sandwiches, tinned peaches and cakes laid on.

Ms Holding added: ‘What I do remember – this is me being dead miserable at eight – somebody had provided some jelly and they gave it to the very little ones, and I thought if only I could have had some jelly.’

For a young girl, understanding what the end of the war meant was difficult.

Ms Holding said: ‘I can remember asking my parents what on earth would be on the news now that there wasn’t war.

‘Children today might be thinking what on earth will be on the news when the coronavirus is gone, because war was all that was on the news.’

Just over a year after the war, she remembers receiving a special letter from King George VI sent to thank all children for enduring the war.

George Bradford, 89, was evacuated from London to his grandparents’ home in Lincoln during the war and was 14 years old when VE Day arrived.

He remembers silence falling while people listened to Winston Churchill announce the end of the war on the radio.

‘Then everybody started chatting, ‘I wonder when my husband will be home’ or ‘I wonder when my son Tommy, Jimmy, when he’ll be home’, ‘when it will all over’.

‘It wasn’t very long before we heard church bells.

‘All the churches all the way down Lincoln high street, going all the way up to the cathedral, all you could hear was peals of bells.’

A ‘massive bonfire’ was held on Lincoln common, Mr Bradford remembers, with ‘mini street parties’ taking place the following day.

He later joined the Royal Marines in 1948 and went on to serve for 27 years. 

Angharad, ten, helps decorate her Union Jack home in West London with bunting ahead of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day

Angharad, ten, helps decorate her Union Jack home in West London with bunting ahead of the 75th Anniversary of VE Day

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek and his dog Wilson are preparing to celebrate VE Day in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek and his dog Wilson are preparing to celebrate VE Day in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk

Wilson the dog has not escaped the VE Day decorations and stands adorned in Union Jack bunting ahead of VE Day tomorrow

Wilson the dog has not escaped the VE Day decorations and stands adorned in Union Jack bunting ahead of VE Day tomorrow

Six year old Ellie Ingham passes a string of flag bunting to her brother two year old Donovan Ingham in Northampton, United Kingdom as preparations for VE Day get underway

Six year old Ellie Ingham passes a string of flag bunting to her brother two year old Donovan Ingham in Northampton, United Kingdom as preparations for VE Day get underway

Penny Meeking decorates her Portsmouth home in Union Jack bunting and flags with her children Molly, seven, and Daisy, ten, in preparation of VE Day tomorrow

Penny Meeking decorates her Portsmouth home in Union Jack bunting and flags with her children Molly, seven, and Daisy, ten, in preparation of VE Day tomorrow

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting all planned mass public celebrations across the nation, local councils have urged residents to celebrate VE Day from the comfort of their own homes (pictured, a resident prepares to celebrate in Portsmouth)

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting all planned mass public celebrations across the nation, local councils have urged residents to celebrate VE Day from the comfort of their own homes (pictured, a resident prepares to celebrate in Portsmouth)

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Royal Navy warships around the world will sound their sirens and beam searchlights to mark VE Day

Royal Navy warships around the world will sound their sirens and pierce the darkness with searchlights on Friday to mark VE Day.

From Bahrain to the Caribbean to the Falklands, to the White Cliffs of Dover, the men and women of the Naval Service will join their countrymen in remembering the sacrifices made between 1939 and 1945.

The Royal Navy lost more than 250 warships defeating Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, and more than 40,000 sailors and Royal Marines were killed in the Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean.

While the pandemic has forced large numbers of commemorations to be cancelled, the Royal Navy refuses to let the occasion go unmarked.

Among those pausing to reflect will be Warrant Officer 2nd Class Jules Cook, Bandmaster of The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines CTCRM, based at Lympstone in Devon.

‘My granddad Eric Cook sadly passed away last year at the age of 99,’ he said.

‘He served in Africa as a gunlayer in the Royal Artillery and if I could speak to him now I’d say to him, ‘I’m still really proud of you, granddad. Miss you loads and I cannot wait to tell you some more stories one day’.’ 

Alec Borrie, 95, from London, was in a transit camp in Chesterfield when VE Day was announced.

He was on his way back to serving in the SAS after being blown up by a mine.

‘I went out and got drunk like about a million others,’ he said.

‘We had a good evening, I got back to camp about one o’clock and got charged for being late.’

He said he had spent quite some time in the pub trying to strike up a conversation with another man until he realised he was actually looking at himself in a large mirror.

‘It sounds daft, but that was a funny thing from the night. We’d already had a few too many then,’ he joked.

Mr Borrie, who was the youngest member of the 1st SAS, serving for two years, encouraged people to remember ‘those that offered their life and those that gave their life’ this VE Day.

Asked how he would be marking the occasion, he joked: ‘I won’t be getting drunk that’s for sure.’

Second World War veterans have described their ‘great relief’ as victory arrived in Europe 75 years ago, with celebrations including people dancing in the street and climbing up lamp posts.

At 3pm that day, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced on the radio that war in Europe had come to an end, following Germany’s surrender the day before.

Dougie Shelley, 94, who joined the Royal Navy aged 17, served as a Seaman Gunner on the Arctic convoys before being posted to the Pacific and Australia.

A man putting union flag bunting up on his balcony for VE Day at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset on a hot sunny day during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown

A man putting union flag bunting up on his balcony for VE Day at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset on a hot sunny day during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown

A road of actors, musical directors and choreographers have come together to perform a socially distanced tribute to VE Day from their doorways. The 13 men and women paid tribute to the end of the Second World War with the incredible performance, which included a rendition of Dame Vera Lynns iconic Well Meet Again, outside their homes in Chester, Cheshire

A road of actors, musical directors and choreographers have come together to perform a socially distanced tribute to VE Day from their doorways. The 13 men and women paid tribute to the end of the Second World War with the incredible performance, which included a rendition of Dame Vera Lynns iconic Well Meet Again, outside their homes in Chester, Cheshire

A giant Union flag on the beach beneath Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, on the north east coast of England, drawn by castle maintenance manager Andrew Heeley, who took over 18,000 steps to complete his creation ahead of commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day

A giant Union flag on the beach beneath Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, on the north east coast of England, drawn by castle maintenance manager Andrew Heeley, who took over 18,000 steps to complete his creation ahead of commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day

A plate of Union Flag cupcakes at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

A plate of Union Flag cupcakes at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Staff of Barnton Primary School work on a painting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

Staff of Barnton Primary School work on a painting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

The finished product after staff of Barnton Primary School worked on a painting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

The finished product after staff of Barnton Primary School worked on a painting to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day

VOICES OF WAR PROJECT BRINGS VE DAY 1945 INTO PEOPLE’S HOMES 

First-hand accounts from an army nurse who served in Egypt, a Jamaican aircraftsman, and a Jewish man who spent six weeks in a concentration camp are being released to help mark VE Day.

They form part of the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) Voices Of War project, which goes live on Friday.

The museum aims to mark the 75th anniversary of the momentous day by bringing voices of the past into people’s homes across the country.

Households are asked to take a moment on VE Day to play the four-minute Voices Of War piece to hear about May 8 1945 from unexpected perspectives.

It brings together first-hand accounts of VE Day from IWM’s sound archive, ranging from an army nurse who served in Egypt at the time and a Jamaican aircraftsman who emigrated to the UK aboard the Empire Windrush in 1948, to a Jewish man from Berlin who spent six weeks in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and prime minister Winston Churchill.

Diane Lees, director general of IWM, said: ‘Originally we had planned to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in public spaces around the UK.

‘Due to the current situation, this is no longer possible.

‘However, the need to commemorate this national anniversary and to remember the sacrifices made on our behalf by past generations is as pressing as ever.’

Ms Lees said Voices Of War would bring the stories and memories of those who lived through the conflict directly to homes across the UK.

She continued: ‘We want the public to reflect on this important historical milestone as many others did 75 years ago – in the privacy of their own kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and gardens – and be part of this important national moment with IWM and with the rest of the country.’

 

He was in a ship in Hong Kong when news came through of Germany’s surrender, and said it ‘couldn’t have been better’.

‘The war killed so many people it’s unbelievable. All around, the Americans, Russians, all the Allies, the same with the Germans,’ Mr Shelley, from Southend, said.

‘But you were doing a job, the same as they had to. It’s either kill or be killed.

‘When we heard about victory in Europe, everybody got together and we all had a good old drink up and jolly up, and couldn’t welcome it much better.

‘I don’t remember any of the conversations I had with people. I don’t think I was alive. I think I was half dead. We all were.’

Mr Shelley described how the order of ‘splice the mainbrace’ – for a double tot of rum – was made for the only time during his service.

He had followed his brother and uncle into Royal Navy, then spent seven months on HMS Meon in the Arctic convoys.

‘Every day I wake up I think I’m a lucky man to be here, especially when you think of the thousands who didn’t make it,’ Mr Shelley, who has been supported by SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said.

He was finally able to go home from his ship, the Armada, when VJ Day came on August 15.

Mr Shelley worked as a driver for the Ministry of Defence and then joined the Merchant Navy, before leaving to run security at a port.

Charles Boyer, 94, witnessed the German surrender at Luneburg Heath in May 1945 and received the Legion d’honneur for his war efforts, France’s highest award.

Mr Boyer, who grew up in Spalding, Lincolnshire, lied about his age to sign up as a 16-year-old for the Royal Norfolk Regiment in 1942.

During his military service he landed at Sword beach on D-Day, saw the ‘dreadful’ Belsen concentration camp and assisted with security at the Nuremberg trials.

Recalling the moment peace was declared, he said: ‘Everybody threw their hats in the air and we had a drink.

‘Then we thought, we’re going home, we don’t know when, but it’s over, hooray.’

He received a letter from his father simply saying ‘well done, you did your bit, and let’s hope we see you soon’.

‘It was a great relief, huge sigh of relief all round, including the Germans,’ he added.

Wendy Doig and Roy Barker from St James Church in Woolton Village dress Jimmy the War Horse ahead of VE Day celebrations tomorrow, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus

Wendy Doig and Roy Barker from St James Church in Woolton Village dress Jimmy the War Horse ahead of VE Day celebrations tomorrow, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek, decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek, decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Preparations are underway across the country for VE Day tomorrow as bunting adorns many properties across Great Britain

Preparations are underway across the country for VE Day tomorrow as bunting adorns many properties across Great Britain

VERA LYNN URGES THE COUNTRY TO ‘REMEMBER THE BRAVE BOYS’ AHEAD OF VE DAY 

Dame Vera Lynn has said the nation must ‘remember the brave boys and what they sacrificed for us’ ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

The Forces Sweetheart, who paid morale-boosting visits to the front line during the Second World War, said she hopes this year’s celebrations ‘remind us all that hope remains even in the most difficult times’.

In a statement, she said VE Day is ‘one of the most important days in our nation’s history’.

She added: ‘It marks the day when freedom returned across Europe, and when peace was restored after the most difficult of times.

‘As we commemorate 75 years since Victory in Europe, we must all remember the brave boys and what they sacrificed for us.

‘They left their families and homes to fight for our freedom and many lost their lives trying to protect us and our liberties.’ 

Now living in Maidstone, Kent, in assisted living accommodation provided by the Royal British Legion Industries charity, he urged people to remember the war generation ‘with pride’.

He added: ‘I think we did an excellent job all round and we were really grateful it came to an end, and let’s hope we will have peace again forever.’

Albert Selby, 95, from Birmingham, was just 18 when he was called up in 1942, and served with the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment of the Army.

He landed on the Normandy beaches at 7am on June 6 1944, and then continued to fight inland to Holland, where he was injured in a blast five months later.

Mr Selby was sent back to the UK to recover from injuries to his body, face and ear, and was discharged from service in 1945.

On VE Day, he saw jubilant celebrations and people climbing lamp posts on the streets of Balsall Heath.

‘All the training as a young man in my teens and twenties with the 1st Battalion Suffolk Regiment holds great memories for me,’ he said.

‘Every day I think about my old pals and those events on D-Day as we fought through France and beyond.’

Mr Selby, a great-grandfather of eight, has recently been provided with new windows and doors from the Royal British Legion, which he said ‘meant so much’.

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children and staff at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek, decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Pageantmaster of VE Day 75 Bruno Peek, decorates his house in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk, with flags and bunting to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Get ready to party like it’s 1945: Street festivals may be cancelled, but from victory cocktails to a great British sing-along, here’s how you can celebrate VE Day in style, 75 years on 

Tomorrow, we mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. After six years of wartime restrictions, May 8, 1945, saw the nation pour onto the streets to celebrate. 

By midnight an estimated 50,000 people had crowded around London‘s Piccadilly Circus. 

In different circumstances, some of those celebrations would have unfolded again, with the May Day Bank Holiday moved for that very reason. 

But while lockdown may have put paid to the raft of planned commemorative events, the British spirit is not easily extinguished. 

All over the country, towns, individual streets and all manner of organisations are planning ways in which tomorrow can be a stay-at-home celebration to remember. 

Children at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

Children at Breadsall Primary School in Derby during a VE Day lunch party to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe

MOMENTS NOT TO MISS 

Commemorations will begin at 11am with a two-minute silence to honour the generations affected by World War II, and reflect on the devastating impact of Covid-19

  • At 11.15am, the Royal British Legion is inviting the nation to make a cup of tea and listen to its VE Day 75 Livestream, as young and old unite to chat about their shared experiences. Tune in via the Legion’s Facebook page or website (britishlegion.org.uk). 
  • At 2.45pm, BBC1 will broadcast Sir Winston Churchill’s famous victory speech. Then, at 2.55pm, as BBC coverage continues, the nation’s buglers, trumpeters and cornet players will perform the Last Post from their gardens. 
  • At 3pm it’s time to raise a glass as Dame Joan Collins, whose childhood home was destroyed in the Blitz as she slept in a Tube station, leads the Nation’s Toast from the balcony of her London apartment. 
  • The toast, due to be broadcast on news channels, is on behalf of the women of the nation, acknowledging the many roles they played in the war. The public are encouraged to join in with the words: ‘To those who gave so much, we thank you.’ 
  • An evening of VE Day-themed viewing on the BBC will lead up to an address by the Queen at 9pm, the exact time her father spoke to the nation 75 years ago. 
  • Then Dame Vera Lynn will lead what promises to be a very loud national rendition of We’ll Meet Again. A bit like the weekly Clap for Carers, the hope is that people will sing from their doorsteps. 
  • The Mail has also organised a ‘Salute the Heroes’ Spitfire flypast, which will include East Grinstead’s Queen Victoria Hospital, Worthing’s Care Home for Veterans and the home of Colonel Tom Moore. 

Try the swing dance! The Lindy Hop is a dance that originated in new York in the late 1920s

Celebrations in 1945 erupted into dancing in the street — and back then they really knew how to boogie. The Lindy Hop is a swing dance that originated in new York in the late 1920s and gained popularity in the Uk in the 1940s thanks to the gis stationed here. 

Put on some Glenn Miller, or try the Andrews’ sisters Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. There are loads of VE Day playlists on spotify. if you want to give it a go, English Heritage is hosting a Lindy Hop dance tutorial on its Facebook page at midday before inviting everyone to Dance for VE Day at 5pm, along with a swing-time dance troupe and band.

BRING THE BUNTING 

In 1945, the Government made red, white and blue bunting available with ration coupons for a month. Making paper bunting with the children is easily done. 

There are lots of print-out templates online ready for you to colour in, including via BBC Local Radio, as well as VE Day posters and flags. Search for Great British Bunting on the BBC website. 

For those with scrap fabric to hand, Bletchley Park has an online guide to bunting to sew, plus a no-sewing-required alternative (bletchleypark.org.uk). 

HAVE A TEA PARTY 

With social distancing, full-on street parties are impossible. But a 1940s-style tea party at home is easily done, and if you have a big enough front garden, or a balcony, you could hold it there so you can wave at your neighbours to keep up the community feel. 

However, the Government has made clear celebrations should take place ‘in our homes and on our doorsteps, rather than in parades and street parties’, so choose your location carefully. 

Why not put down a picnic blanket and serve up 1940s teatime favourites like cucumber sandwiches or celebration trifle. Remember, baking provisions such as eggs were a precious commodity during the war years, so cooks had to be creative. Wash down with ginger beer, homemade lemonade, or even a gin cocktail. 

DO A SING-ALONG 

Take a trip down memory lane and learn what Granny and Grandad might have hummed along to in their youth. 

Music historian Tom Carradine has great online tutorials to get kids singing along (carradinescockney singalong.co.uk/ve-day) that include Run Rabbit Run and nonsense song Mairzy Doats And Dozy Doats. 

It will get you in good voice for when the Royal Albert Hall streams a performance by ­Katherine Jenkins that includes The White Cliffs Of Dover on YouTube at 6pm. 

There will also be a virtual duet of We’ll Meet Again with Dame Vera Lynn, who will then lead us all in her bestknown hit for a second time, after the Queen’s Speech at 9pm. 

Time for games Monopoly had been around for ten years by the time VE Day came around. Snakes and ladders was another favourite. 

Children might enjoy taking chalk out to the front path and playing hopscotch, or setting up some empty plastic bottles for a game of skittles. 

You could have a competition to see who can make the best paper aeroplane, or go on to online education resource Twinkl (twinkl. co.uk) and check out its VE Day resources, which include a template for making a paper Spitfire. 

FIND YOUR HISTORY 

Why not spend some time finding out your family’s war story? Perhaps you have relatives who lived through the war you could ask. Family history website Ancestry (ancestry.co.uk) has opened its records for free until Sunday.

ROBERT HARDMAN: How the Mail’s Spitfire will dip its wings to inspirational veterans and carers alike to mark VE Day tomorrow

We will not be able to dance a conga or enjoy a street party — let alone flock to Buckingham Palace, as millions did back on May 8, 1945. 

Tomorrow, 75 years on, it is going to be an unavoidably subdued anniversary of the day that the UK finally celebrated Victory in Europe. 

Nonetheless, we at the Mail are doing our best to make it a VE Day to remember with our aerial tribute to many of those who helped Britain secure that precious peace. 

So here is the plan of action for our ‘Salute the Heroes’ Spitfire flypast. The country may still be in lockdown but the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has granted the Mail a special one-off exemption to the official advice against all general aviation. 

After all, you can hardly call a Spitfire ‘non-essential’ on VE Day. One flight, sadly, can only fly so far. 

So, having asked our readers to nominate a care home and hospital for special treatment, we announced the lucky beneficiaries in Saturday’s Mail. 

As a result, East Grinstead’s Queen Victoria Hospital and Worthing’s Care Home for Veterans have been chosen, along with Britain’s greatest fundraiser, 100-year-old Colonel Tom Moore. 

I can only apologise to those of you who nominated so many deserving recipients, such as Flight Sergeant Graham Earle (who turns 89 this weekend) at his Swindon care home, or the residents of Bluebell House in Hessle, East Yorkshire, (currently preparing for their Spam fritters party), or all those members of the wartime generation living at Lynemore Care Home, Grantown-on-Spey. 

Among the hospitals we wish we could visit are the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, Shropshire. 

Given the events of recent weeks, there have been many heart-rending letters and emails about others in urgent need of cheering up. 

However, now that our pilot, Matt Jones, has drawn up his flight plan, he has also worked out a way of including some other nominations along the way. 

Among them will be Squadron Leader Stanley Booker MBE of Bracknell, Berkshire, a man for whom VE Day was anything but a party. 

The navigator in a Halifax bomber, he was shot down over occupied France in 1944 three days before D-Day. 

Two of the crew were killed but Mr Booker bailed out and was picked up by the French resistance near Dreux. 

British veteran Captain Tom Moore displays the Yorkshire Regiment Medal he received

British veteran Captain Tom Moore displays the Yorkshire Regiment Medal he received

He got as far as Paris before being betrayed and handed over to the Gestapo. Five days before the liberation of Paris, he was despatched to Buchenwald concentration camp. 

There, with a small group of fellow airmen, he was subjected to beatings and medical experiments by SS prison staff. 

It was only the intervention of his old foe, the German Luftwaffe, which secured a transfer to a conventional PoW camp, Stalag Luft 3, in Poland. 

Eventually, after a forced march to Germany, he was ‘liberated’ by the Soviets but had to remain in custody a full three weeks after VE Day before being released. 

Who better, then, to receive a Spitfire visit on VE Day — not that the gallant Squadron Leader feels that he deserves it. 

‘I feel humbled. What’s so special about me?’ he said last night. ‘There are so many other brave veterans who deserve to be acknowledged.’ 

Since our flight, kindly donated by the Boultbee Flight Academy, will be passing over Colonel Tom in Bedfordshire, it seems only right that it should also honour nearby Bletchley Park, the celebrated ‘Station X’, which did so much to win the war. 

‘What better VE Day tribute to all our great codebreakers than a Spitfire?’ a spokeswoman said last night. 

Another waypoint will be the Blind Veterans UK home near Brighton. Earlier this week, staff and residents were delighted to welcome a delivery of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) from the new Mail Force charity. 

Now, their VE Day party will go with an extra bang. And since our Spitfire happens to be flying over East Sussex, we could hardly miss out one very important local resident — Dame Vera Lynn. 

The early afternoon flight has been approved by the Civil Aviation Authority. 

All our recipients are on standby and know to observe strict social distancing (as must we all). 

This generation certainly will have no trouble recognising the unique roar of that RollsRoyce Merlin engine as it comes within range…



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