VE Day: 48 hours that changed the world

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2.27pm (French time) German Foreign Minister Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk announces, on radio, the surrender of all German troops.

Monday, 7 May 1945

2.27pm (French time) German Foreign Minister Count Lutz Schwerin von Krosigk announces, on radio, the surrender of all German troops.

2.41am German chief of staff Colonel-General Gustav Jodl signs unconditional surrender at General Dwight Eisenhower's temporary headquarters in a schoolhouse in Reims, France.

3pm Crowds begin to gather in central London and outside town halls in anticipation of a broadcast by Churchill. Flags sell out.

On a lovely hot summer's day we were coming from the park and we could see that our street was filled with women and children all waving flags and shouting: "We've won! We've won!" I remember racing home and giving my mum a big hug. Marie, Staffordshire

5pm Churchill urges President Truman to declare victory, as "crowds celebrating in the streets of London are beyond control". But Stalin needs 24 hours more for Soviet troops to cease fighting.

8pm The Ministry of Information says the Prime Minister will announce the end of hostilities next day. Listeners take this as a declaration of victory.

Someone came in at the back of the theatre and called out, 'The war is over!' With one accord, the whole audience rose to its feet and cheered madly. It was wonderful. I don't know how we finished the show, we felt choked with emotion.

Beryl Andrews, entertaining troops with Ensa, Germany

9pm Crowds gathered in city centres celebrate with bonfires and street parties (see above).

A procession was led by the Trowbridge British Legion Boys Band. There, strung up, were effigies of Hitler and Mussolini en route to a large bonfire in the park. You can guess the rest.

Tuesday, 8 May 1945

12.01am Ships on the Clyde sound the V signal and flash searchlights.

7am Working from his bed, Churchill asks the Ministry of Food to be sure London has enough beer for the day ahead.

8am The first of many thanksgiving services held in churches and cathedrals.

A wedding was in progress when we arrived at church, but we were all allowed to tiptoe in. They must have been astonished at the size of the congregation as they came back down the aisle.

Muriel Balme, Harrogate

1pm Crowds mob Churchill's car en route to Buckingham Palace.

We saw a notice in the window advertising a Victory Tea. The price was one shilling and nine pence for a small sandwich, a scone and a fairy cake yellow with dried egg, and a cup of tea.

KR Taylor, Bedford

3pm Leaders of Britain, America, France and the Soviet Union announce victory simultaneously. From the room in which war was declared, Churchill says: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing".

We were in this field when someone on another tank called out, "They're going mad back home, get the BBC on your set or you'll miss all the fun." It was good to feel my loved ones were taking part in those scenes. On the other hand I did feel cheated that we who had risked life and limb and been away from home for so many years were not in England to share in the triumph.

Ron Goldstein, Queen's Own Hussars, Italy

3.05pm The Royal Family makes the first of many appearances on the Buckingham Palace balcony.

6pm Churchill and the war Cabinet appear on the flag-draped balcony of the Ministry of Health, to huge crowds. "This is your victory," roars Churchill to crowds who respond: "And yours."

7pm Blackout ends as street lights go on across the country and major buildings are illuminated.

The crowds were like moths around the lights: masses of people, filling the streets, gawking at the streetlights. Some of the kids had never seen them before.

Lt William R Murchie, US Eighth Air Force, Norwich

9pm Parties pause to hear a broadcast by King George VI, who tells listeners: "We knew that if we failed, the last remaining barrier against a world-wide tyranny would have fallen in ruins. But we did not fail." Parties resume.

11pm The King and Queen appear at Buckingham Palace, watched by at least 100,000 people.

We were terrified of being recognised, so I pulled my uniform cap well down over my eyes. We walked through the streets, a line of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, swept along on a tide of happiness and relief. It was one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Her Majesty the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth

Midnight The official ceasefire.

Recollections from WW2 People's War, an online archive gathered by the BBC. More stories can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/ww2. Text from these stories may not be reproduced without prior permission from the BBC.

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