Winston Churchill's iconic VE Day speech from 1945 - how to watch it in full

Sir Winston Churchill gave a rousing speech to the nation on 8 May 1975 (Photo: Getty Images)Sir Winston Churchill gave a rousing speech to the nation on 8 May 1975 (Photo: Getty Images)
Sir Winston Churchill gave a rousing speech to the nation on 8 May 1975 (Photo: Getty Images)

Celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day may not be going ahead quite as planned due to the current UK lockdown, but some plans are still in place to honour the historic occasion.

On Friday (8 May), the BBC will mark Victory in Europe Day with a special broadcast of Winston Churchill’s famous speech, announcing the war in Europe was over.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

What happened on VE Day?

VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, is dedicated to commemorating the official end of the Second World War.

The day celebrates the formal acceptance by the Allies during World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of armed forces, on 8 May 1945.

Millions of people rejoiced the news of Germany’s surrender, and took to the streets in celebration, with parties, singing and dancing.

Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square in London and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony, overlooking the masses cheering below.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The news of the end of the war was announced by then Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who delivered a rousing speech 75 years ago.

What did Churchill say in his speech?

This is the speech then Sir Winston Churchill gave to the nation at the end of the Second World War in 1945:

"Yesterday morning at 2:41 a.m. at Headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command, and Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German Land, sea, and air forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.

"General Bedell Smith, Chief of Staff of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Francois Sevez signed the document on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General Susloparov signed on behalf of the Russian High Command.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"To-day this agreement will be ratified and confirmed at Berlin, where Air Chief Marshal Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and General de Lattre de Tassigny will sign on behalf of General Eisenhower.

"Marshal Zhukov will sign on behalf of the Soviet High Command. The German representatives will be Field-Marshal Keitel, Chief of the High Command, and the Commanders-in- Chief of the German Army, Navy, and Air Forces.

"Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives the “Cease fire” began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed to-day.

"The Germans are still in places resisting the Russian troops, but should they continue to do so after midnight they will, of course, deprive themselves of the protection of the laws of war, and will be attacked from all quarters by the Allied troops.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It is not surprising that on such long fronts and in the existing disorder of the enemy the orders of the German High Command should not in every case be obeyed immediately.

"This does not, in our opinion, with the best military advice at our disposal, constitute any reason for withholding from the nation the facts communicated to us by General Eisenhower of the unconditional surrender already signed at Rheims, nor should it prevent us from celebrating to-day and to-morrow (Wednesday) as Victory in Europe days.

"Today, perhaps, we shall think mostly of ourselves. Tomorrow we shall pay a particular tribute to our Russian comrades, whose prowess in the field has been one of the grand contributions to the general victory.

"The German war is therefore at an end. After years of intense preparation, Germany hurled herself on Poland at the beginning of September, 1939; and, in pursuance of our guarantee to Poland and in agreement with the French Republic, Great Britain, the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, declared war upon this foul aggression.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"After gallant France had been struck down we, from this Island and from our united Empire, maintained the struggle single-handed for a whole year until we were joined by the military might of Soviet Russia, and later by the overwhelming power and resources of the United States of America.

"Finally almost the whole world was combined against the evil-doers, who are now prostrate before us. Our gratitude to our splendid Allies goes forth from all our hearts in this Island and throughout the British Empire.

"We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. Japan, with all her treachery and greed, remains unsubdued.

"The injury she has inflicted on Great Britain, the United States, and other countries, and her detestable cruelties, call for justice and retribution. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save the King!"

Watch it below:

How can I watch the speech on VE Day?

In honour of the 75th anniversary, the BBC will present special tribute programming across television, radio and BBC iPlayer on Friday (8 May).

The programming will include readings of diary extracts and poetry, a remembrance of the most pivotal moments, and an address from Her Majesty the Queen at 9pm, the exact time her father addressed the nation three quarters of a century ago.

The broadcast of Sir Winston Churchill’s victory speech, which he made from 10 Downing Street on 8 May 1945, will air on BBC One at 2.45pm on Friday 8 May 2020.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The programme will last for one hour, according to TV listings, and will be presented by Sophie Raworth.

VE Day programming will resume again on BBC One at 8pm for a special musical show called The People’s Celebration, featuring an array of British talent delivering unique versions of well-known songs from the 30s and 40s.