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VE Day goes ‘virtual’: Colchester to commemorate 75th anniversary online

Friday 8 May 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe

Date issued: 1 May 2020

Friday 8 May 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE Day 75).

Like other towns and cities across the UK, Colchester would have held a civic service at the town’s War Memorial to mark this historic day. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and Government guidance, public commemorations have been cancelled nationwide. Instead, Colchester residents are being invited to mark the occasion online.

Colchester Borough Council has created an online resource to help residents commemorate the end of the war in Europe and remember the day, 75 years ago, when people took to the streets to celebrate peace, mourn their loved ones and hope for a better future.

The dedicated website invites visitors, young and old, to take part in celebrations at home and lays out the timetable for the commemorative events that were to have taken place nationally.

As well as offering links to online resources, visitors will also be able to view a special video message by the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, and Lieutenant Colonel Jim McManus AAC, Commander of Colchester Garrison.

Other interactive resources encourage people to
get involved at home with wartime recipes, make bunting and posters and take part in a creative challenge for children set by historian and presenter, Dan Snow.

The public is also invited to participate in the Nation’s Toast to the Heroes of the Second World War, at 3pm, and to join The Royal British Legion at 9pm for a UK-wide rendition of Dame Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

The Imperial War Museum will be releasing a special VE Day soundscape on the morning of Friday 8 May.

The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, said: “History seldom repeats itself, but perhaps it sometimes rhymes. The momentous collective struggle that turned ordinary life upside-down during World War Two resonates with the unprecedented situation we find ourselves living through today.

“The struggle to defeat the manifest evil of Nazism left a permanent mark on those who experienced it and set the world on course for the one we enjoy and take for granted today. We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to that wartime generation and to the sacrifices they made to rid the world of tyranny.

“I hope, on this 75th Anniversary of VE Day, that we will continue to find inspiration and encouragement in their fortitude to help each other and our communities overcome the huge challenges that we face today.”

Lieutenant Colonel Jim McManus AAC, Commander of Colchester Garrison, added: “During the Second World War, as it is now, Colchester was a garrison town and soldiers from the barracks fought bravely and made the ultimate sacrifice on all fronts.

“These soldiers – and sailors and airmen – were recruited from the civilian community, and the home front suffered through rationing, bombing and restrictions on everyday life.

“It is important that we mark VE Day together, to remember the shared endeavour and sacrifices, celebrate the hard-fought victory, and draw inspiration as we face the current challenge of coronavirus.”

To join in the virtual VE Day 75 commemorations, visit: www.colchester.gov.uk/ve-day-75/

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