Posted on May 8th, 2020
May 8th Britain will be celebrating 75 years of Victory in Europe
Even though the celebrations will not be as originally planned due to the Coronavirus lock-down, it seems even more relevant with the restrictions and challenges we are currently facing, to reflect and celebrate this very significant day and the strength and unity of the British people, and all those who fought for us.
At the start of 1945
The German army was losing strength and it looked likely that defeat was imminent. Kings George VI was on the throne and our Queen, at the time Princess Elizabeth, was just 19 years old, when on May 8th 1945, the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany was announced. This marked the near end of WW2, it was a very emotional day and there was much celebration.
Winston Churchill’s famous address
His famous speech to the Country took place from the Ministry of Health’s balcony in London on May 8th 1945, around 3pm. His words immortalised to this day… ‘My dear friends, this is your hour. This is not victory of a party or any class. It is a victory of the great British nation as a whole…’
An effort to Invade Britain
Adolf Hitler decided to attempt to starve the people of Britain into submission by bombing the Merchant Ships bringing food and goods to the UK from abroad. As Hilter’s onslaught of the Merchant ships continued the Ministry of Agriculture told the country to ‘Dig for Victory’ – a campaign for men and woman across the country to grow their own vegetables, largely from seeds, wherever they could. As food was on severe rationing, very little encouragement was needed and vegetable and fruit patches sprung up in gardens, in the parks, even the lawn around the Tower of London became allotments.
Arments kept going by making soup
During this time, our shop at 386 Walworth Road, kept going by making soup, fruit pies and Jam tarts, from produce obtained through rationing, or grown in the gardens, window boxes and any other container available to the Arment family.
‘Dig for Victory’ became a well-known slogan and the campaign was vital to the war effort.
Many slogans were devised in this time, to encourage and motivate the British public. They carried very powerful messages:
‘Dr. Carrot, the Children’s best friend!’ – Encouraged children to eat their carrots as they are a good source of Vit A and good for their eyesight – helps them to see in the dark. It is said the Germans were led to believe that the Royal Air Force gave them to their pilots, not the fact that they had a radar!
‘Drink milk!’ – A good source of calcium for strong bones. This later led to the Ministry of Food’s initiative to give free milk to all school children in 1946 – 1971. How many of you can remember the small milk bottles containing warm sour milk in the summer or frozen tops in the winter!
‘Recycle your bones!’ – The bones were rendered down to make glue and ground to make bone meal for fertiliser. Today at Arments, the’ bone man’ still collects our bones left over from boning out our sides of beef used in our pies. However, where once he paid us, we now pay him!
‘Eat in Moderation!’ – encouraged people not to waste food and also not to take what they didn’t need.
With the shortage of food and rationing, especially, meat, butter and sugar, cooks and bakers were encouraged to adapt recipes. Using the more easily obtained carrot, carrot cake became a favourite at tea time, often alongside dripping sandwiches. It is said that Churchill’s favourite cake was a fruit cake created by his long-standing cook Mrs Landemare.
Celebrating VE Day this Friday 8th May
So how can we celebrate at home in lockdown…?
Whether you are in lockdown with family members or on your own, here is an itinerary and some ideas of how you can join the Nation in celebrating Victory in Europe Day.
Join the nation in a 2 minutes silence.
Turn on BBC to hear Churchill’s famous speech.
Grab your picnic blanket or chair and set a place in your garden or home for afternoon tea.
Take Afternoon Tea…whether this is loose tea in a pot or a tea bag in a mug, be it served with scones or carrot cake, Victoria sandwich or the more in vogue cupcakes. Maybe a glass or fizz…or two!
Visit the Imperial War Museum virtually!! Enjoy old fashioned board games, watch an old film on TV such as the Battle of Britain. Connect with friends and family via a video call, or even take an afternoon snooze!
Dinner for those of you who didn’t overindulge in afternoon tea!
Join the BBC once again on TV for the Queen’s address, followed by the nation joining Dame Vera Lynn and Katherine Jenkins singing ‘We’ll Meet Again’.
However you celebrate in lockdown, remember a little of what you fancy you does you good, enjoy, stay safe, and look after each other.