Today is 65 years since Victory in Europe (VE day)
I'm watching the service on BBC2 and watching the footage from that day, a day when Britain breathed a sigh of relief a giant party in the streets. For those they loved coming home, for the end of the bombing and to remember those who gave there life so that are country could be safe.
I was going to say more but i can't remember what.
It must have been a wonderful relief after more than 5 years of austerity (1 egg and 2 ounces of butter per person per week) and of all the bombing from the Blitz through to the V1 and V2 attacks in the latter stages of the war (the V1s could be shot down by aircraft and AA guns, but a lot got through; the V2s were untouchable and the only counter was to capture the launch sites on the ground. A V2 killed several hundred people in late 1944 when it hit the Guards Chapel in London during a service).
But of course the war in the Far East went bloodily on until August 1945 when the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki finally brought Japan to its senses - and saved huge numbers of the American and Japanese lives which would have been lost had it been necessary to invade the Japanese homeland. Such an invasion would, based on the fanaticism of the Japanese in their defence of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, have probably cost a million American lives and 5 to10 million Japanese. (Thus, as I've said before on the site, the A-bomb was the most lifesaving invention of the 20th Century -though it may not be in the 21st if it gets into the hands of terrorists.)
However, let's rejoice that we've had peace in Europe - well most of it, anyway - since 1945. The full horrors of WW2 cannot be fully appreciated by those of us who were not involved. But thank God we've had nothing like it since ...
How much i appreciate everything those young men and women did during the war it will never be as much as those who lived through that dreadful time.
The videos of the parties i have seen makes me want to go and experience it as it looks like one great party, Yes we lost a lot of lives and a lot of people lost loved ones but from the stories i have heard even they were on the street because they knew no more lives were going to be lost in Europe.
It was extraordinary to see on TV this evening a Company of the Welsh Guards taking part in the ceremonies in Red Square in Moscow - and wonderful that the Cold War has at last disappeared so that they could do so.
The Soviet Union lost about 25 million people in WW2 (which they refer to as the Great Patriotic War). It is arguable that this figure could have been substantially less had Stalin, who was possibly even more ruthless than Hitler, not had most of his senior Army officers shot not long before the German invasion in 1941. He was utterly paranoid about threats to his own position and equally careless about lives spent to maintain him in power.
My own view, with the comfortable benefit of hindsight, is that towards the end of WW2 - when the Germans were on their knees - the US and UK forces should have pressed on eastwards to reach Berlin at about the same time as the Soviets. The years subsequent to 1945 would have been a lot better for Germany as it rebuilt and it may have been possible to have saved the Czechs, Hungarians and Romanians from the Communist rule which was then ruthlessly imposed on Eastern Europe by the Soviets.
But let's be very happy that the threat of a Third World War in Europe has now receded to the extent it has. Russia has now drawn in its horns, Germany remains full of contrition for its appalling misdeeds in WW2, and the French remain (as always) thoroughly awkward but most unlikely to stir up anything in Europe.
So, let us rejoice that we now live very largely at peace ...
I i will admit i was glad the russians were with us and not against us i dread to think what could have been different.
Tony i have also finally found out my granddad was in the Coldstream guards in north Africa before he joined the SAS and returned there so it looks highly likely I owe your family my life (which i may regret saying in later years when you call it in )
I am glad that it looks like the cold war has finally been put to rest though and i never thought i would see US troops on red square as well.
Duffer, there's nothing to call in. And we may have been round some of this before. But Harley's grandfather was killed in North Africa in 1941, one of thousands like him. Your grandfather was no doubt part of the attempt to stem the initial Africa Korps advance eastwards.
Let's just be very glad that that sort of stupidity will hopefully not happen ever again.
Yeah i seem to recall us talking about it in one of your Saturday night stories, about Harley's grandfather. I believe i said this then and will again. The way i look at it every man and woman who has risked or lost there life in insuring mine and this countries freedom i owe my life to.
Yeah if it never happens again i will be very happy