Photo story

10 Photos Of VE Day Celebrations

On 7 May 1945 the formal act of military surrender was signed by Germany, ending the war in Europe. The next day celebrations broke out all over the world to mark Victory in Europe or VE Day. In Britain, Churchill marked the occasion by declaring 8 May a public holiday. People held parties, danced and sang in the streets. Huge crowds gathered in London, both on Whitehall to hear Churchill speak and outside Buckingham Palace where King George VI and the Royal Family appeared on the balcony. 

For many though, the celebrations were bitter-sweet. People mourned their lost friends and loved ones, while others were still engaged in combat, as the war in the Far East continued.

Here are 10 photos of some the celebrations that took place that day.

  • Gathering to see Churchill

    Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall after broadcasting that the war against Germany was over, 8 May 1945.
    Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall after broadcasting that the war against Germany was over, 8 May 1945.
    H 41849

    Churchill waves to crowds in Whitehall on the day he broadcast to the nation that the war against Germany had been won, 8 May 1945 (VE Day).

  • Crowds in Whitehall

    The crowd in front of the Ministry of Health building in Whitehall.
    The crowd in front of the Ministry of Health building in Whitehall.
    TR 2876

    A colour photo of the crowd in front of the Ministry of Health building in Whitehall. Churchill addressed the crowd from the balcony.

  • Celebrations outside the Houses of Parliament

    Revellers give the 'V for Victory sign outside the Houses of Parliament. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 63623)
    Revellers give the 'V for Victory sign outside the Houses of Parliament. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 63623)
    HU 63623

    Revellers give the 'V for Victory' sign as they celebrate outside the Houses of Parliament.

    © The rightsholder (IWM HU 63623)

  • In the fountains at Trafalgar Square

    Two British sailors and their girlfriends wade in the fountains in Trafalgar Square.
    Two British sailors and their girlfriends wade in the fountains in Trafalgar Square.
    EA 65799

    Two British sailors and their girlfriends wade in the fountains in Trafalgar Square.

  • Children on VE Day

    Two small girls waving their flags in the rubble of Battersea. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 49414)
    Two small girls waving their flags in the rubble of Battersea. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 49414)
    HU 49414

    Two small girls wave their flags in the rubble of Battersea.  © The rightsholder (IWM HU 49414)

  • Truck ride on the Strand

    Revellers ride a truck along the Strand in London. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 41808)
    Revellers ride a truck along the Strand in London. © The rightsholder (IWM HU 41808)
    HU 41808

    Revellers ride a truck along the Strand in London.

    © The rightsholder (IWM HU 41808)

  • Dancing in the streets

    Soldiers and civillians dance on a street near Berkeley Square in London.
    Soldiers and civillians dance on a street near Berkeley Square in London.
    EA 65885

    Soldiers and civilians dance on a street near Berkeley Square in London.

  • Party in Piccadilly Circus

    A mass of civilians and servicemen crowd around Piccadilly Circus in London.
    A mass of civilians and servicemen crowd around Piccadilly Circus in London.
    EA 65879

    A mass of civilians and servicemen crowd around Piccadilly Circus in London.

  • Dancing the conga

    Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London on the evening of VE Day.
    Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London on the evening of VE Day.
    EA 65881

    Men and women dance the conga around a bonfire in East Acton, London on the evening of VE Day.

  • V for Victory

    Ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain return the 'V for Victory' sign to a neighbouring searchlight crew.
    Ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain return the 'V for Victory' sign to a neighbouring searchlight crew.
    CH 15165

    Ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain return the 'V for Victory' sign to a neighbouring searchlight crew. Silhouetted is the nose of a Lancaster bomber.