Victory in Europe: VE Day in Northern Ireland

At 1500hrs on 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill announced an end to hostilities in Europe with Germany. This day would become known as VE Day.

On 8th May 1945, Europe celebrated the surrender of Nazi forces. After almost 6 years of war on the continent, VE Day or Victory in Europe Day marked a day of national celebration. Across Northern Ireland, people took to the streets, joining family and friends in jubilant parties.

On Monday 7th May 1945, a radio broadcast instructed the nation to stand by for an important announcement at 1600hrs. No announcement came that day. At 1500hrs on Tuesday 8th May 1945, Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s distinctive tones came through on the wireless. He announced the Nazi surrender to thousands gathered around their sets across the United Kingdom. Word came from the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street, London that hostilities would end at 0001hrs on 9th May 1945.

Churchill announces VE Day

Imperial War Museum Photo: H 41843 (Part of the War Office Second World War Official Collection). The Prime Minister Winston Churchill at a BBC microphone about to broadcast to the nation on the afternoon of VE Day. Photo taken on 8th May 1945. Copyright Mr Egalton - Official War Office Photographer.

The population of Northern Ireland, like the rest of the United Kingdom, had waited more than 5 years for this moment. They had watched young men lose lives in foreign fields and suffered through the Belfast Blitz of 1941.

VE Day at Belfast City Hall in 1945

Belfast Telegraph Photo: A street party in Donegall Square North, Belfast, Co. Antrim to celebrate Victory in Europe or VE Day on 8th May 1945. Copyright Belfast Telegraph.

VE Day in Belfast, 1945

For the first time in 6 years, friends and families celebrated together and feasted on cakes and special treats. The people of Northern Ireland partied in the streets until the early hours when bonfires were lit. For many though, the day was one of bittersweet celebration. Many families already knew their loved ones would never return. Others remained worried about family still fighting in the Pacific theatre.

People were happy but I was sad, Robert was still away at sea.

Betty Porter – Gilnahirk, Co. Down (2015)

Thousands of people filled towns and cities across the country. A weight had been lifted and for many, it was the first time to really enjoy themselves. Cecil Kennedy recounted his memories to the BBC.

Although I was almost eighteen years of age I had never been in a public bar, my friends, however, appeared to have had some experience in frequenting such premises, so I followed them into the Castle bar beside the Classic cinema. My inexperience quickly revealed itself as I had not the slightest idea what type of drink to ask for.

Cecil Kennedy – Belfast, Co. Antrim

Irish Regiments mark Victory in Europe

By VE Day in 1945, the Irish regiments had spread far and wide throughout the world.

  • 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Dehra Dun, India.
  • 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Udine, Italy.
  • 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Lancaster, England.
  • Depot Company Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
  • 1st Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles – Niendorf, Germany.
  • 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles – Bremen and Delmenhorst, Germany.
  • Depot Company Royal Ulster Rifles – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
  • 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Cividale, Italy.
  • 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Swansea, Wales.
  • 5th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers – Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.
  • Depot Company Royal Irish Fusiliers – Omagh, Northern Ireland.
  • 1st Battalion London Irish Rifles – Doberdo, Italy.
  • 2nd Battalion London Irish Rifles – Udine and Plezzo, Italy.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Ballymena, Co. Antrim

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4th May 2020

The sun shone in Co. Antrim as VE Day celebrations began in Ballymena. Not even patients in the Waveney Hospital felt left out as they feasted on ice cream!

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Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Bangor, Co. Down

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4th May 2020

The % town of Bangor, Co. Down marked Victory in Europe Day or VE Day with an effigy of Adolf Hitler hung in the town as people celebrated on 8th May 1945.

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Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Belfast

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4th May 2020

Thousands of people gathered on the streets on Belfast to celebrate Victory in Europe Day on 8th May 1945. Street parties took place throughout the city.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Bellaghy, Co. Londonderry

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4th May 2020

VE Day celebrations in Bellaghy, Co. Londonderry involved a gramophone-led street party, a lot of gunfire and a big turf-built bonfire at The Diamond.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Cullybackey, Co. Antrim

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4th May 2020

In Cullybackey, Co. Antrim, VE Day celebrations culminated with Major SG Haughton atop a white horse leading the parade to a ceremonial fire on Reid's Hill.

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Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone

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4th May 2020

On 8th May 1945, Lord Northland oversaw a parade of organisations through the streets of Dungannon, Co. Tyrone to commemorate the Allied Victory in Europe.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

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4th May 2020

There was much music and dancing during the VE Day celebrations in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in 1945. The local RUC even received both complaints and hugs!

Featured image for Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Gilford, Co. Down

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Gilford, Co. Down

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4th May 2020

Crowds gathered for VE Day celebrations in Gilford, Co. Down on the 8th May 1945 and the Belgian Infantry joined in with the burning of an effigy of Hitler.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh

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7th May 2020

Victory in Europe Day on 8th May 1945 saw locals of Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh mix with an international crowd as they lit a bonfire to mark Allied victory.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Laurelvale, Co. Armagh

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4th May 2020

Residents of the Co. Armagh village gathered on the local sports fields to observe VE Day celebrations in Laurelvale, which involved sports and fancy dress.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Lisbellaw, Co. Fermanagh

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7th May 2020

In Lisbellaw, Co. Fermanagh, a recently returned POW declared a death sentence on an effigy of Hitler before lighting the VE Day bonfire on 8th May 1945.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Moneymore, Co. Londonderry

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4th May 2020

In Moneymore, Co. Londonderry, VE Day celebrations were a quieter affair with church services to the fore before the victory dances began the following day.

Featured image for Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Portadown, Co. Armagh

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Portadown, Co. Armagh

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4th May 2020

In Portadown, Co. Armagh, thousands of locals mingled with service personnel from the United Kingdom and Belgium to celebrate Victory in Europe Day in 1945.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Portglenone, Co. Antrim

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7th May 2020

Victory in Europe Day or VE Day celebrations in Portglenone, Co. Antrim drew to a close on 8th May 1945 with the burning of Adolf Hitler and Lord Haw-Haw.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Randalstown, Co. Antrim

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4th May 2020

VE Day celebrations in Randalstown, Co. Antrim saw members of the forces join with youth organisations for a parade before dancing in the local Orange Hall.

Victory in Europe: VE Day celebrations in Tandragee, Co. Armagh

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4th May 2020

VE Day celebrations in Tandragee, Co. Armagh included church services, street parties, and bonfires as locals gathered to mark the end of the war in Europe.