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VE Day 75th Anniversary this Friday

How the Civil Service Planned for VE Day in 1945

In the Spring of 1945 whilst the British Government was dealing with a country in the grip of rationing and cities ravaged by bombs, some Ministers had to turn their thoughts to how people could celebrate victory after six years of war.

Enter the ‘Office Committee for the Coordination of Departmental Action on the End of Hostilities in Europe.’ The man in charge of the committee was Cabinet Secretary Edward Bridges, tasked with putting plans in place for celebrations and ensuring the country kept running.

Originally, the celebrations were going to be named ‘Ceasefire Day’ but Churchill suggested ‘Victory in Europe Day’ to reflect the fact that the war continued in the Far East

The code word ’Mousetrap’ was chosen to alert government departments and ministers when VE Day was imminent. One stumbling block was if VE Day fell on a Friday. Ministers were concerned food distribution would be thrown into disarray and the elderly would be unable to draw their pensions. In the end, VE Day fell on a Tuesday. The committee had originally planned to announce VE Day with a three-minute ’all clear signal’ with sirens blasting out across the nation. The idea was scrapped (perhaps as it was considered too traumatic) in favour of a radio announcement.

Although parades and street parties took place across the UK, the largest events were held in London. Here, celebrations were at their most raucous as tens of thousand of revellers partied into the night.

Source: BBC