Why VE Day was a bittersweet occasion for some people

Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 10:06 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 10:06 am

Not everyone celebrated VE Day.

For those who had lost loved ones in the conflict, it was a time to reflect.

Amidst the street parties and rejoicing, many people mourned the death of a friend or relative, or worried about those who were still serving overseas.

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For many of the widows the war had produced, the noise and jubilation as people celebrated VE Day was too much to bear and not something they could take part in.

There was also an air of anti-climax.

The hardships of the war years had taken their toll on many people and left them with little energy for rejoicing.

In Britain, the strain of air raids, the strictures of wartime life and the impact of rationing all left their mark on a weary population who knew there were more difficulties yet to endure.

Furthermore, for members of the Allied forces who were still serving overseas on VE Day, the occasion was bittersweet.

Although it meant victory in one theatre, the war was not yet over in the Far East and Pacific.

The battle conditions there had been some of the toughest of the war.

In May 1945, thousands of Allied servicemen were still fighting in the Far East and thousands more were held as prisoners of war in terrible conditions.

Both Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Harry S Truman also made reference to this during the VE Day celebrations.

Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both leaders pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won.In his radio broadcast at 3pm on May 8, 1945, Churchill told the British people ‘we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued.

In America, Truman broadcast at 9am and said it was ‘a victory only half won’.

Victory over Japan was achieved on August 10 when Japan surrendered following the American atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.