As reported by Mariella Brown on the Society of Editors website:
On Friday (May 8) national and regional newspapers celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Papers were encouraged by the SoE to share plans of the celebrations which were organised by the pageantmaster, Bruno Peek.
In reflection of the momentous event, Bruno told the SoE about the variety of celebrations that still managed to take place, nevertheless under new restrictions:
“Due to the Government lock-down and social distancing because of this dreadful virus encircling the world at the moment, many of the thousands of wonderful events planned to celebrate the 75th Anniversary had to either be cancelled or greatly cut back.
“However, the fortitude and determination of the population of our great country always comes through during difficult times, so have enormous pride in confirming the following.
“The day started with many hundreds of Buglers, Trumpeters and Cornet players undertaking the playing of the Last Post and Reveille at 2.55pm from the safety of their own homes, gardens and balconies instead of the many and various World War 11 War Memorials located in our villages, towns and cities of our great country.
“This was followed by over one thousand Pipers playing Battle’s O’er, the traditional tune played on the pipes at the end of a battle, and VE 75 Years the new piece of music I commissioned for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, marking the end of the war in Europe, from the safety of their own homes in villages, towns and cities in 27 countries around the world in tribute to the many, many millions at home and abroad that gave so much to ensure we all enjoy and share the freedom we have today.
“At 6.55pm, Town Criers in various countries undertook the ‘Cry for Peace Around the world from the safety of their homes too, and was appreciated by those who could hear them.
“Sadly, the bells undertaking the planned ‘Ringing out for Peace’ did not take place because of the Government lock-down and the closure of churches.”
Following the adjustments to the celebrations, the local press responded to calls to support events due to take part in their communities.
National papers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Mirror included commemorative pullouts of the publications 75 years ago. The Mail also marked the fly-past route of planes celebrating VE day to show how veterans from their care homes could be able to see the planes fly overhead.
In the regional press, initiatives included a bumper edition by the Northern Echo which offered a 64-page special supplement. The Oxford Mail also used their wartime masthead on a commemorative edition to mark the anniversary.
Titles from JPI Media assembled content for readers to mark VE day from their homes and gardens. Daily lifestyles ran in most titles throughout last week, giving advice on making bunting to preparing cake recipes. Papers also covered the individual stories of veterans such as a story in the Shields Gazette about Fred McQueen, a veteran who took part in the D-Day landings – and at the age of 98, had just beaten coronavirus.
Many regional titles, including the Star, Yorkshire Post and Scotsman returned 1945 to run front pages from VE day 75 years ago.
Bruno added, “All in all, we still celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, but in a quieter and restrained way.”