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VE Day - Mixed Feelings?

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 Martin Hore 08 May 2020

I wonder if I'm alone in having somewhat mixed feelings today.

My mother's first husband was killed in WW2. Two of my uncles spent time as prisoners of war. Yes, it's absolutely right that we should recognise their sacrifices. I was silent with most others, I'm sure, at 11.00am today. 

But the longer-lasting "Victory in Europe" was what followed after 1945. There was only a hollow victory after 1918. Old nationalist enmities were allowed to fester and 20 years later the continent was at war again. But after 1945, thanks to the vision of far-sighted leaders, there was a slow but steady binding together of the countries of Europe into what is today the most successful union of free nations the world has ever known.

Yes, I have mixed feeling when I see news reports of our fellow citizens celebrating today under Union Flag banners (albeit with appropriate social distancing). I know that many of those same people, by voting for Brexit, have contributed to the weakening, and potential undoing, of that ultimately more far-reaching victory in Europe.

Martin

Apologies, I posted in the wrong forum. Not sure how to correct that. By all means move it if you know how.

Martin

Post edited at 19:19
23
 Doug 08 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

I find it odd that I have no memory of VE day as an event when I was growing up (born mid mid 50s) or even as a young adult and remember finding it strange that it was a public holiday when I first worked in France in the early 90s. When did it start to become an 'event' (for want of a better term) in the UK (or is it just England) ?

4
In reply to Martin Hore:

The only reason for the long lasting peace in Europe was the ever present Nato forces in Germany, mainly the UK and the USA,  that kept the Soviet war machine at arms length. The West would have been / could have been invaded by the Soviets anytime between 45 and 89 were it not for the Americans and the British. You seem to want to tar the Union Jack with racist and xenophobic overtones. Why not just enjoy the day for what it is?

53
 DaveHK 08 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

I think we should commemorate the end of the war in Europe rather than celebrating VE Day. That might seem like splitting hairs but I feel it's an important distinction.

6
In reply to Martin Hore:

It’s certainly food for thought. I can’t help thinking that most with the union jack out are Brexiteers, and with it the irony of what it means, but at the same time we need to celebrate this and sure many support are united Europe too. 

20
 toad 08 May 2020
In reply to Doug:

This year. I think the Tories had been looking to appropriate mayday for a while, and this happened to fit the bill. Of course CV has clouded the issue, to put it mildly 

14
In reply to Wanderer100:

> You seem to want to tar the Union Jack with racist and xenophobic overtones.<

How on earth did you read that into what Martin said??!

13
 Rob Parsons 08 May 2020
In reply to Ramon Marin:

> ... I can’t help thinking that most with the union jack out are Brexiteers ...

You are merely projecting. That's understandable - but it probably doesn't have any basis in fact, nor is it helpful.

Post edited at 19:44
2
 Johnhi 08 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

Street parties, 75 years on, wreathed in the same nationalistic/tribal sentiments that played a great part in those horrors makes me deeply uncomfortable, millions died with atrocities committed on both sides.  It seems more appropriate to look back in fear and shame at what we are collectively capable of than to celebrate.

28
 greg_may_ 08 May 2020
In reply to Johnhi:

Agree.

7
 GrahamD 08 May 2020
In reply to Johnhi:

It does all look uncomfortably jingoistic, doesn't it ?

19
 Dr.S at work 08 May 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

I don’t think it’s jingoistic, but I do think it should be the penultimate such event for ww2. 

Id say today has been pretty good in our village, a bit of bunting, some socialising at a distance and no one being daft. The one house in the village that possesses a flag pole has an envious flag collection and along with the union flag flying they had the flags of England and Scotland, Canada, NZ, Australia and the US out at least.

I do get a bit irritated that the union flag (and St. George’s Cross) are perceived to be linked to some set of political views. I do admire the flag flying in Sweden where everybody seems to have a national flag flying.

 baron 08 May 2020
In reply to Johnhi:

> Street parties, 75 years on, wreathed in the same nationalistic/tribal sentiments that played a great part in those horrors makes me deeply uncomfortable, millions died with atrocities committed on both sides.  It seems more appropriate to look back in fear and shame at what we are collectively capable of than to celebrate.

There’s no fear or shame in celebrating the defeat of the Nazis.

No matter how long ago it was.

3
 tjekel 08 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

I found - as one of those that profited being from a freed country - there is nothing bad in remembering the day when WW II ended. And yes, end of war would be nicer than victory. For historic reasons, ehy not use the flag. Ok.

I think Martins main points follow later - the 75 years of peace thereafter, wise leaders binding Europe together. These are what might be missing now in some places of the geographical continent, allowing not to so say victory for Europe (which it definitely was) instead of victory in Europe.

Imagine - ok, farfetched - an EU flag hanging again in Britain once the last former soldier died. 

In reply to Martin Hore:

I was chatting to my neighbour after clap for carers last night.  She's 96, and was 16 at the start of the war.  Her husband was in the Fleet Air Arm on the Northern convoys to Russia (brrrrr).  She remembers the first VE day, said they didn't celebrate and then a cloud passed over her face.  I didn't press her.  

She was very clear on a couple of things - she wanted people to be aware of how many young men (mostly) died to defeat Hitler, and of quite how horrendous the Nazis and their death camps were.

At the street party today turns out another neighbour was in the first Royal Navy ships to go back to Murmansk/Archangel after the war - must have been in the 80s sometime.  Funny old world.

No point to make or agenda, just thought I'd mention it.  

 Wilderbeest 08 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

Like yourself I had mixed feelings....

Just back in from our street party and really happy I went. The overwhelming vibe was that it was simply great to be out chatting and socialising for the first time in 6 weeks.

Really positive event.

In reply to Bobling:

> No point to make or agenda, just thought I'd mention it.  

I think you've made an excellent point though (and one that girlymonkey made elsewhere); it should be remembrance, not celebration.

Sadly, it has been co-opted by nationalist tendencies in England. Funily enough, I commented last September that there was very little fuss made about the 80th anniversary of a date when the country was prepared to go to war to save Europe.

12
 Tom V 08 May 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

One man's nationalist is another man's patriot.

I wouldn't be at all insulted if someone called me a patriot.

6
In reply to Tom V:

> One man's nationalist is another man's patriot.

There's a not very subtle difference.

10
 seankenny 08 May 2020
In reply to Dr.S at work:

> The one house in the village that possesses a flag pole has an envious flag collection and along with the union flag flying they had the flags of England and Scotland, Canada, NZ, Australia and the US out at least.

A million or more soldiers from the Indian subcontinent fought for Britain and yet I’d be very surprised if many Brits spontaneously flew an Indian or a Pakistani flag. I’d be delighted to be corrected, of course. But our great act of remembering is also an act of forgetting. 
 

> I do get a bit irritated that the union flag (and St. George’s Cross) are perceived to be linked to some set of political views. I do admire the flag flying in Sweden where everybody seems to have a national flag flying.

I find that all rather un-English.

4
 Tom V 09 May 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Go on, then.

In reply to Tom V:

Patriotism - Pride in one's country

Nationalism - thinking your country is superior in every way to all other countries.

For starters.

3
 Tom V 09 May 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Yes that's one version of nationalism, the negative one.

But the term is also applied to cultural / ethnic groups within a geographical location who are seeking to establish a national identity different (but not necessarily superior) from other peoples in the region. 

I'm thinking about Welsh, Basque, Palestinian nationalists. Used in this context the word nationalist has more to do with a desire for self- determination than it has with jackbooting your way over other countries and has a lot in common with patriotism or pride in one's own country and heritage.

2
 baron 09 May 2020
In reply to seankenny:

I like the idea that Indians were fighting for Britain.

Nothing to do with the Japanese having plans to invade them?

9
 seankenny 09 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> I like the idea that Indians were fighting for Britain.

> Nothing to do with the Japanese having plans to invade them?

Two and a half million Indians voluntarily fought for Britain in the war. Some of those were in Europe, the majority in Asia (remember Britain had a vast Asian empire run by and for us, not the people who lived there).

Of course fighting the Japanese might not be a big deal to you, but I bet you wouldn’t say that to a white veteran of the Burma campaigns.

In reply to seankenny:

> Of course fighting the Japanese might not be a big deal to you, but I bet you wouldn’t say that to a white veteran of the Burma campaigns

Or to the remains of my great uncle, somewhere in the jungle at Kohima.

Or maybe he would.

In reply to Johnhi:

> Street parties, 75 years on, wreathed in the same nationalistic/tribal sentiments that played a great part in those horrors makes me deeply uncomfortable, millions died with atrocities committed on both sides.  It seems more appropriate to look back in fear and shame at what we are collectively capable of than to celebrate.

I think there was very little spitfires over the white cliffs of Dover nationalism. Perhaps covid19 has made people a little more reflective. 

It's not passed other countries by either. Netherlands had a day off work the other day. Even Germany marked it. Our kids(in sweden) history and other school lessons have focused on the role of women(waaf) in the war, bomb factories, plane deliveries etc. Even their Swedish lesson involved reading grandpa's spitfire!! It's recognised that it was a collective effort that won the war, it's only movies that still make it nationalistic.

Post edited at 06:32
 GrahamD 09 May 2020
In reply to summo:

Funnily enough there were Spitfire fly pasts here, near Duxford.

 Doug 09 May 2020
In reply to summo:

The difference is that other countries (eg France) have had a public holiday on the 8th May for many years & the commemorations are fairly low key. In England/UK it seems to have become an event for the first time, I know it was the 75th but I don't remember anything similar for the 50th. So to ask why it was celebrated/commemorated this year seems a reasonable question.

2
 Dr.S at work 09 May 2020
In reply to seankenny:

Re Brits flying the Indian flag - I expect quite a few do, certainly by my definition of ‘Brits’.

re un-English - so do I, I appreciate its wrong to admire other cultures.

 Dr.S at work 09 May 2020
 Doug 09 May 2020
In reply to Dr.S at work:

Thanks for that, seems I was wrong - I was living in the Strathspey then, events in faraway London may well have passed by unnoticed.

Post edited at 08:12
 Skyfall 09 May 2020

I recall having marked, if not celebrated, VE Day for most of my life.  My father fought in WWII and my mother was a teenager.  I think they had a fairly balanced view of it and tended to stress the deprivations, such as rationing, which continued for almost a decade after.  But they still clearly recalled it as a time of celebration and relief.  

Having said that, my father (in the paras) was gearing up for the invasion of Japan straight after VE Day and was very grateful for the conclusion of that campaign with the dropping of the atomic bombs (maybe let’s not start that debate today..).

I don’t think their generation ever truly put it behind them.  Simple things such as the lack of wastefulness.  I do think the lockdown has helped people appreciate some of that, and possibly how incomprehensible it seems now to have been at war and in crisis for almost 6 years.  They have my respect. 

In reply to Doug:

> The difference is that other countries (eg France) have had a public holiday on the 8th May for many years & the commemorations are fairly low key. In England/UK it seems to have become an event for the first time, I know it was the 75th but I don't remember anything similar for the 50th. So to ask why it was celebrated/commemorated this year seems a reasonable question.

The idea. Sadly probably Tories chasing the nationalist vote from UKIP. But that doesn't mean once set up it couldn't be commemorated for the right reasons. 

I don't think there will be another, ie 100yrs etc... it won't be in anyone's living memory anymore. 

6
 Dr.S at work 09 May 2020
In reply to Doug:

I would have been in Bristol and I’ve no recollection at all but I doubt it was that London centric!

 gimmergimmer 09 May 2020
In reply to Johnhi:

Spot on !

 baron 09 May 2020
In reply to seankenny:

> Two and a half million Indians voluntarily fought for Britain in the war. Some of those were in Europe, the majority in Asia (remember Britain had a vast Asian empire run by and for us, not the people who lived there).

> Of course fighting the Japanese might not be a big deal to you, but I bet you wouldn’t say that to a white veteran of the Burma campaigns.

You have completely misunderstood my post.

I was pointing out that many Indians were not fighting just for Britain or its empire but to defeat the axis forces.

Especially the Japanese who were, at one stage in the war, literally on their doorstep.

In reply to Johnhi:

> ........millions died with atrocities committed on both sides.  It seems more appropriate to look back in fear and shame at what we are collectively capable of than to celebrate.

Are you seiously saying there was some sort of moral equivalence between the Allies and the Nazis? If ever there were a just war, I think that this was probably it.

Post edited at 09:14
2
 Ridge 09 May 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Are you really saying there was some sort of moral equivalence between the Allies and the Nazis? If ever there were a just war, I think that this was probably it.

+1

3
 Ridge 09 May 2020
In reply to Wilderbeest:

> Like yourself I had mixed feelings....

> Just back in from our street party and really happy I went. The overwhelming vibe was that it was simply great to be out chatting and socialising for the first time in 6 weeks.

> Really positive event.

I was out on the bike and went through quite a few villages. It just seemed a nice event with people observing social distancing and glad to be out in the sun and connecting with neighbours.

Not a tattooed beer belly in sight nor a chant of 'two world wars and one world cup' to be heard.

Sorry to disappoint a few on this thread.

3
 Bob Kemp 09 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> I like the idea that Indians were fighting for Britain.

> Nothing to do with the Japanese having plans to invade them?

It's much more complicated than that. Some Indians were already fighting with the Japanese. 

This article gives some idea of the complexities:

https://theconversation.com/why-remembrance-of-indian-soldiers-who-fought-for-the-british-in-world-war-ii-is-so-political-86885

 baron 09 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> It's much more complicated than that. Some Indians were already fighting with the Japanese. 

> This article gives some idea of the complexities:

Yes, sorry for my brief, lazy answer to a previous poster.

As you say, it was a very complicated issue.

 gimmergimmer 09 May 2020
In reply to Ridge:

I don't think there was moral equivalence at all. ( although Stalin, probably our most important ally in defeating the nazis was morally repugnant). However, I think Johnhi's point was we should be ashamed about what human beings were 'capable' of rather than one group of people-the the Germans. It's about the way it is remembered. A big jolly with people dressing up doesn't seem the best way to celebrate the end of a mass slaughter.

3
 Jenny C 09 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

Mixed feelings here too. 

75 years ago VICTORY was something to celebrate, but now I feel it should be marked and remembered. 

I suspect the improvised street parties have a lot to do with people looking for an escape from lockdown. Nice weather but nowhere to go, why not have a picnic on your front lawn and speak to the neighbours. 

1
 dan gibson 09 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

I find the term Victory in Europe misused. There was no victory for the countries of Eastern Europe, as the Russians drove the Nazis back, the tyranny of Hitler was replaced by the tyranny of Stalin. One mass murderer replaced another. Victory and freedom came much later for these countries.

 Dr.S at work 09 May 2020
In reply to dan gibson:

> I find the term Victory in Europe misused. There was no victory for the countries of Eastern Europe, as the Russians drove the Nazis back, the tyranny of Hitler was replaced by the tyranny of Stalin. One mass murderer replaced another. Victory and freedom came much later for these countries.

<opens popcorn, waits for Pefa>

 Bob Kemp 09 May 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> Are you seiously saying there was some sort of moral equivalence between the Allies and the Nazis? If ever there were a just war, I think that this was probably it.

I'd agree that there is no real moral equivalence, but an honest appraisal should recognise that at times the Allies engaged in activities that were less than ethical and sometimes connived at and participated in atrocities. Whether the end justified the means, or whether that's an acceptable ethical position in the first place I'll leave for others. You have to say that war is hell. A few examples:

The Rheinwiesenlagers

Mass rapes by Soviet troops in Germany

No German troop surrenders after the Americans crossed the Rhine - all to be executed.

Forced repatriation of Soviet dissidents and POWs by the allies after the war, followed by use of German POWs and repatriated civilians for forced labour.

Deportation of ethnic Germans from neighbouring countries, resulting in over 500 000 deaths in the largest forced migration in history. Nowadays that would be called ethnic cleansing. 

The Bengal Famine - caused by appropriation of food supplies for the Allied war effort. 

The Marrochinate 

There are many more. Sorry, no references but a search for allied atrocities should find details. 

Post edited at 10:18
4
 baron 09 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Sorry, what’s the bit about no German surrenders after the crossing of the Rhine?

 Bob Kemp 09 May 2020
In reply to Jenny C:

> Mixed feelings here too. 

> 75 years ago VICTORY was something to celebrate, but now I feel it should be marked and remembered. 

Many people were ambiguous about VE day at the time. It wasn't really an ending. I remember my mother being very deprecatory about the whole event, and this article gives some indication of the mixed feelings about the day:

https://theconversation.com/ve-day-victory-celebrations-hid-fear-of-an-uncertain-future-for-many-britons-137938

> I suspect the improvised street parties have a lot to do with people looking for an escape from lockdown. Nice weather but nowhere to go, why not have a picnic on your front lawn and speak to the neighbours. 

We had a nice chat with tea and cake. The only VE day-related chat was with an (E) German neighbour about the unfortunate aftermath of the war in terms of Russian annexation and the Communist regime. 

 Bob Kemp 09 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> Sorry, what’s the bit about no German surrenders after the crossing of the Rhine?

This is the Wikipedia bit about that:

"In the aftermath of the Malmedy massacre, a written order from the HQ of the 328th US Army Infantry Regiment, dated 21 December 1944, stated: No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoner but will be shot on sight.[29] Major-General Raymond Hufft (US Army) gave instructions to his troops not to take prisoners when they crossed the Rhine in 1945. "After the war, when he reflected on the war crimes he authorized, he admitted, 'if the Germans had won, I would have been on trial at Nuremberg instead of them.'"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II

I should have said 'all to be executed', not 'all executed' As ever, the extent to which this order was carried out is disputed.

Post edited at 10:19
 Jim Hamilton 09 May 2020
In reply to Ridge:

> I was out on the bike and went through quite a few villages. It just seemed a nice event with people observing social distancing and glad to be out in the sun and connecting with neighbours.

Yes agree,  I didn't get the Brexit/jingoistic vibe. Reminiscing with some oldies it is clear it was a momentous occasion.  

1
In reply to gimmergimmer:

> A big jolly with people dressing up doesn't seem the best way to celebrate the end of a mass slaughter.

It's a tricky one. I don't think anyone could deny the authenticity of the spontaneous outpouring of joy and relief 75 years ago at the end of six years of war and the defeat of the nazis, and the least cynical way to view yesterday's partying and flag waving is simply to say it was remembering and reflecting that moment in history. Having said that, there was something about it that left me uneasy, and it's not something I wanted to join in with. Is that just my reserved temperament or was it the the fact that some people might have been using the flag to express something of what they were supposedly celebrating the defeat of? I don't know. It seems to me a real shame that the Union Flag has come to be seen at times as a symbol of the obnoxious views which people fought against. Eight years ago, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, it really felt like it had been reclaimed to represent the best of this country but now that all seems to have evaporated with the tragic divisiveness of Brexit. I hope there will come a time when it is reclaimed again.

Anyway, I thought the Queen's address lat night was perfectly pitched and extremely moving. I don't know what will become of the monarchy when she goes, but, for the time being, we are lucky to have her.

Post edited at 10:27
In reply to Doug:

> I find it odd that I have no memory of VE day as an event when I was growing up (born mid mid 50s) or even as a young adult and remember finding it strange that it was a public holiday when I first worked in France in the early 90s. When did it start to become an 'event' (for want of a better term) in the UK (or is it just England) ?

Like you (but born in the early 60s) I have no recollection of VE Day being `celebrated' in the 60s-80s. And even Remembrance Day was a much much smaller event, limited to a patchy wearing of poppies and a sunday night concert from the Albert Hall. It all seemed to grow in the 90s, around the 50th anniversaries of D-Day etc. And then it was reinforced by our involvement in Iraq/Afghanistan, in a way that might cause Kipling a wry smile, as the author of "Tommy":-

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! "
But it's " Saviour of 'is country " when the guns begin to shoot;

And backed up by a recoginition that the very people who's war we were celebrating we dying off. So there's an element of guilt built in as well, as the driving force has come from people who have borne the fruits of others' sacrifice but have never been asked to pay the price themsevles. It's telling, in a way, that those who did fight never made a fuss in the decades after the war but simply wanted to move on and return to normal lives. 

 baron 09 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

Thanks.

 Jenny C 09 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> Many people were ambiguous about VE day at the time. It wasn't really an ending.....

Yes I remember asking my granny and she said there was nothing to celebrate as she still had no news on her husband who was overseas. 

 Tom V 09 May 2020
In reply to Southvillain:

>  the driving force has come from people who have borne the fruits of others' sacrifice but have never been asked to pay the price themsevles. 

You mean organisations like The British Legion?

5
 Martin Hore 09 May 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

>…. was it the the fact that some people might have been using the flag to express something of what they were supposedly celebrating the defeat of? I don't know. It seems to me a real shame that the Union Flag has come to be seen at times as a symbol of the obnoxious views which people fought against. Eight years ago, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, it really felt like it had been reclaimed to represent the best of this country but now that all seems to have evaporated with the tragic divisiveness of Brexit. I hope there will come a time when it is reclaimed again.

Just back to this after posting the OP. Good to see it's stimulated some serious, generally well-mannered debate.

Robert's post above sums it up well for me. Yes, I can take great pride in the Union Flag, for example when draped around our successful Olympic athletes, whose efforts have been spurred on by the efforts of the athletes of all countries all striving to perform their best. 

But when the flag is misappropriated to justify petty nationalism and bigotry of the type that underlay much (not all) of the Brexit debate, then I feel quite ashamed to call it "my" flag.

Martin

6
In reply to Tom V:

> You mean organisations like The British Legion?


No. Of course not. And nothing in my post hinted at that. But a cheap shot always make's some people feel better.

 profitofdoom 10 May 2020
In reply to Robert Durran:

> It's a tricky one. I don't think anyone could deny the authenticity of the spontaneous outpouring of joy and relief 75 years ago at the end of six years of war and the defeat of the nazis......

Right. Both my parents were in the Forces in WW2, and 8 May 1945 was a very big day for them (as was VE day every year after that). They never forgot WW2 while they lived, and no wonder

In reply to Tom V:

> You mean organisations like The British Legion?

My god, that's a snide and offbeat, ignorant comment. Do you really not understand what the British Legion is? (Rhetorical question, won't discuss.)

1
 BHound 10 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

I would be careful about holding the EU as a united force for good. You only have to go back to the early 90s and Bosnia to find evidence of their complete lack of ability to resolve a conflict on thier own doorstep and thereby save thousands of lives. Given that many issues, at a local level, stemmed from WW2 and employed tactics originally used by the Germans in that theatre the project arguably had a morale responsibility to take the lead, but  instead it just stood frozen to the spot due to a complete lack of resolve and an inability to  agree anything. In the end NATO (America) lost paitence and brought it to a conclusion.

I'm not anti EU by the way, but in this context they aren't and likely never will be fit for purpose. Their strength, for now, is in economic matters.

5
 Tom V 10 May 2020
In reply to Southvillain:

To be clear, who constitutes this " driving force".

The celebrations have been encouraged and supported by the British Legion (for whom I have massive respect, Gordon S).

Are you suggesting that they are just puppets of some other faction with a rabble rousing agenda.?

If so, help identify who the people guilty of misappropriating the event rather than making vague claims.

Or is it so obviously the Tory party that it goes without saying?

 elsewhere 10 May 2020
In reply to profitofdoom:

> Right. Both my parents were in the Forces in WW2, and 8 May 1945 was a very big day for them (as was VE day every year after that). They never forgot WW2 while they lived, and no wonder

It's a mixed picture. My dad and 5 or 6 uncles & great uncles were in WW2. I don't recall any of them mentioning VE day as a special day in subsequent years. They had some funny anecdotes, the other stuff they kept to themselves. However as you say, they never forgot it.

 Ridge 10 May 2020
In reply to elsewhere:

My Dad's only story about VE day was being herded onto the deck of an aircraft carrier for a morale boosting speech by an admiral which ended with an enthusiastic “..now on to Tokyo!”

The response was somewhat less than enthusiastic...

 wercat 10 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

remind me, how long was Bosnia after the demise of the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact?  This was a time of turbulent change in a state of affairs that strongly affected Yugoslavia after a very long rule by Tito.  There is little evidence that the suppressed hatred that led to mass murder of populations could have been stopped by a non military organisation that had had no writ in that country during its entire existence up to that time.  I do not think your point is relevant at all, or fair at all, as Yugoslavia was never part of that social binding in Europe and had no control over the mass of equipment from the army that was in the hands of the Serbs.

Post edited at 16:26
1
 Thrudge 10 May 2020
In reply to Johnhi:

> Street parties, 75 years on, wreathed in the same nationalistic/tribal sentiments that played a great part in those horrors makes me deeply uncomfortable, millions died with atrocities committed on both sides.  It seems more appropriate to look back in fear and shame at what we are collectively capable of than to celebrate.

The Allies defeated a horrific fascist empire that had a stranglehold on Europe and a realistic chance of world domination.  And we should be ashamed?  Well, I think one of us should....

5
 Enty 10 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

That should be it now. 75 years, decent milestone, you had your street parties, waved your flags. Now PLEASE MOVE ON like the countries who were impacted even more have done.

Why do we have to rub Germany's nose in it every year when 99% of living Germans had feck all to do with it?

E

7
 baron 10 May 2020
In reply to Enty:

You’ll have noticed that it’s Victory in Europe.

It’s a celebration/commemoration of the defeat of the Nazis and fascists.

Why would you want to forget it?

2
 Yanis Nayu 10 May 2020
In reply to Enty:

Mate of mine is German - he hung a German flag up for the VE Day street party  

2
 Ridge 10 May 2020
In reply to Enty:

> Why do we have to rub Germany's nose in it every year when 99% of living Germans had feck all to do with it?

Every year? I can't recall VE Day being a 'thing' prior to this, (was there a 50th Anniversary?).

I think we should remember the huge sacrifices made in WW2, but as almost everyone who fought in that conflict is dead, (and certainly won't be around for the 100th), now is probably  a good time to start looking forward rather than backwards. Maybe get VJ done, (unless the plan is to forget it, like the 14th Army was forgotten), and move on.

 GrahamD 10 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> You’ll have noticed that it’s Victory in Europe.

Rather than victory for Europe,  unfortunately. 

1
 baron 10 May 2020
In reply to GrahamD:

> Rather than victory for Europe,  unfortunately. 

Indeed.

Many European countries and their citizens didn’t fare very well after the war ended.

 Martin Hore 10 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

> I would be careful about holding the EU as a united force for good. You only have to go back to the early 90s and Bosnia to find evidence of their complete lack of ability to resolve a conflict on thier own doorstep and thereby save thousands of lives. 

> I'm not anti EU by the way, but in this context they aren't and likely never will be fit for purpose. Their strength, for now, is in economic matters.

I'd like to reply to this, and also to an earlier post suggesting that the EU has made little contribution to maintaining peace in Europe - it's all down to NATO and American troops in Germany.

I don't agree. It's never been within the EU's remit to take military action outside it's own borders, though several individual EU countries did support the peacekeeping effort in former Yugoslavia. What the EU has achieved is the promotion of peace within its borders, not with armies but through economic and cultural integration.  We shouldn't underestimate the role conflicting economic interests play in generating military conflict, nor how emphasising cultural differences can lead to a belief in cultural or racial superiority. 

If Merkle and Macron have a serious issue to resolve today, they meet for a cup of coffee or glass of wine in Brussels. One hundred years ago they would have been more likely to (not) meet across opposing trenches in Flanders.

Martin

In reply to Ridge:

I have no recollection whatever of a VE day commemoration or celebration in my youth. Armistice Day was always the big one, and always a very sombre occasion. And still is, rightly. 

Post edited at 23:53
 Ridge 11 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

> It's much more complicated than that. Some Indians were already fighting with the Japanese. 

Naz Shah, the Bradford MP, allegedly managed to find a picture of Indians in German uniform to put on her VE day tweet, which is quite spectacular. This has to be fake news, surely?

Post edited at 08:55
 EdS 11 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

And what about VJ day. 

My grandfather was still a POW in Burma and his colleagues in the Fourteenth 'Forgotten' Army were still fighting 

 Bob Kemp 11 May 2020
In reply to Ridge:

Surprisingly, no, there really was an Indian brigade, the Indian Legion. The background was of course the fight for Indian independence, and the brigade was composed of captured Indian soldiers. Details on Wikipedia here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Legion

Why was Naz Shah posting about this btw?

 Hat Dude 11 May 2020
In reply to baron:

> I like the idea that Indians were fighting for Britain.

> Nothing to do with the Japanese having plans to invade them?

Stupid comment!

Indian troops were fighting well before the war with Japan broke out

 baron 11 May 2020
In reply to Hat Dude:

> Stupid comment!

> Indian troops were fighting well before the war with Japan broke out

It was one example of why Indians fought in WW2 not a detailed military history.

Do try to keep up.

2
 DerwentDiluted 11 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

There was also a British Waffen SS unit, the British Free Corps.  A bit of a skeleton in the closet, not massive numbers though, at 54 strong less of a Corps and more of a platoon. Somewhat ironically they could be identified by an arm cuff, a union jack arm badge and a unit badge of three lions...on their shirt.

Post edited at 11:31
 Bob Kemp 11 May 2020
In reply to DerwentDiluted:

Weird - never come across that one before, but I guess I should have expected it - plenty of Germans fought for Britain.

(Trivia time - oddly enough, Ken Adam, who designed many of the early iconic James Bond sets, was a German who became a British fighter pilot - 

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/mar/11/sir-ken-adam-obituary )

 Ridge 11 May 2020
In reply to Bob Kemp:

There were various freikorps as you say.

Naz Shah, (original tweet now deleted), posted something about "remembering those who united against the ills of the world". Which is fair enough, but in a move that completely eclipsed the BNP using a Spitfire from a Polish squadron to protest about east European immigration she used a photo of an Indian Waffen SS unit.

Now mistakes happen, but if you enter "Indian troops WW2" or various other combinations into google you have to try, really, really hard to dig up a photo of the Indian legion.

Not sure what her motivation was.

 BHound 13 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

> I'd like to reply to this, and also to an earlier post suggesting that the EU has made little contribution to maintaining peace in Europe - it's all down to NATO and American troops in Germany.

> I don't agree. It's never been within the EU's remit to take military action outside it's own borders, though several individual EU countries did support the peacekeeping effort in former Yugoslavia. What the EU has achieved is the promotion of peace within its borders, not with armies but through economic and cultural integration.  We shouldn't underestimate the role conflicting economic interests play in generating military conflict, nor how emphasising cultural differences can lead to a belief in cultural or racial superiority. 

> If Merkle and Macron have a serious issue to resolve today, they meet for a cup of coffee or glass of wine in Brussels. One hundred years ago they would have been more likely to (not) meet across opposing trenches in Flanders.

> Martin

Martin, Please can I suggest that you take a look at the EUs common security defence policy, and it previous incarnations going back as far as between the wars - i think that you might be surprised by the EU's military undertakings. According to a quick  open source search  since just 2002, the European Union has intervened abroad thirty-five times in three different continents.

It's worth also noting the constant friction between NATO and France. France in particular has pushed for a European army for decades.

 Martin Hore 14 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

> Martin, Please can I suggest that you take a look at the EUs common security defence policy, and it previous incarnations going back as far as between the wars - i think that you might be surprised by the EU's military undertakings. According to a quick  open source search  since just 2002, the European Union has intervened abroad thirty-five times in three different continents.

> It's worth also noting the constant friction between NATO and France. France in particular has pushed for a European army for decades.

Thank you for that. I may be wrong about the EU not intervening militarily outside it's borders. Do you have a well-known example? I'm not sure though how any document going back "as far as between the wars" can be relevant to the EU. Yes, I fully accept that there has been pressure from France, perhaps others, towards a European Army. I'm not sure why the second (though very soon possibly third) biggest economy in the world should be relying so heavily on the USA for it's defence, particularly when the US is capable of electing such a maverick as Trump to lead it. 

Martin

 BHound 14 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

Please find a link below to the EU's official site. According to the page they currently have 5000 military and civilian staff deployed globally, in support of a number of wide ranging operations including conflict prevention, which I think was the piece of their remit that you weren't aware of.

In terms of the EU having a reliable common defence policy  and moving away from NATO, that's simple. The EU has to many vested interests and seperate foreign policies to act with one voice and therefore they will never agree to the point that each member could genuinely rely on another to come to its defence.

Regarding Trump, all I can say is you have me there. Interestingly though I have worked with a number of well educated and travelled Americans in recent years and when I've asked those that have voted Trump why they did so, you get a real insight into how broken and divided parts of their society are.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/headquarters-homepage/430/military-and-civilian-missions-and-operations_en&ved=2ahUKEwijwM7zm7TpAhUJesAKHdlRAHoQFjACegQIDxAN&usg=AOvVaw2gbTC3kiEETb8CvvmU7mFJ&cshid=1589489076491

In reply to BHound:

> In terms of the EU having a reliable common defence policy  and moving away from NATO, that's simple. The EU has to many vested interests and seperate foreign policies to act with one voice and therefore they will never agree to the point that each member could genuinely rely on another to come to its defence.

1. There is a pretty large overlap between membership of NATO and membership of the EU.  Therefore member states are already relying on each other to come to their defence.

2. The EU states will certainly speak with one voice and defend each other in cases of actual threat within  Europe.  They may well have different views about taking sides in conflicts in other parts of the world or defence of colonial outposts.   The difficulty of getting consensus is both a positive and a negative thing: it has prevented the EU getting involved in some of the more foolish adventures.

L KriszLukash 15 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

NATO is completely dead I don’t see how anybody has not realised that yet.

3
 BHound 15 May 2020
In reply to tom_in_edinburgh:

I would disagree. Yes there is a large overlap, but the reality is that the UK has the only armed forces that is capable of deploying an expeditionary force within Europe. Many members don't come close to meeting their economic obligations to NATO, but rely on being members of it - which is why it's under so much strain and as someone has said may now be beyond saving, especially if Trump remains in power.

In terms of mutual defence in Europe, that's extremely unlikely. Look at how and why the EU (including the UK) responded when the Russians intereferred in Ukraine and Georgia, or how the French sold exocets to the Argentina during the Falklands. What prevents conflict now is vested economic interest and the protection of national infrastructure - As I said in my original post, this is where the strength of the EU is and that's what ultimately binds us together, not any wishful thinking about cultural harmony.

1
 BHound 15 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

Agreed it was a long time, and I didn't say the EU could have stopped, but they could have done a lot more to limit the conflict and thereby save some of the thousands of lives that I mentioned. The EU did deploy moniors alongside the UN during war, but  failed miserably to apply political pressure or push for dynamic military action via NATO to hasten its end. Given it was on our continent and was driven in part by residual issues arising from the war I stand by my point - We, the European community, had a moral obligation to do more than we did, but instead it took the Americans to pursue an end.

Re the suppressed hatred you refer to, a lot of that did stem from the war, remember that it was less than 50 years since it had ended, so it was still within living memory for a  large percentage of the population and many of those fighting had been raised on stories of how one family, village,  or valley had committed attrocities against another - I would be careful about applying our more modern, less community orientated thinking to the problem.  The conflict especially at a local level evidenced that they still cared very much about their recent history.

In reply to BHound:

> but the reality is that the UK has the only armed forces that is capable of deploying an expeditionary force within Europe

UK is behind France.

France, UK, Italy & Germany are the top four.

I had to look it up.but I'm not in the least surprised.

https://www.globalfirepower.com/countries-listing-european-union.asp

 BHound 16 May 2020
In reply to captain paranoia:

Please ignore the headline figures and drill down into the detail i.e. number of airframes on paper vs number of serviceable airframes is a completely different thing. France's recent military adventure in Africa was only possible because of UK support. At this time the British are the only military that could deploy unilaterally at short notice.

Post edited at 07:56
 Martin Hore 16 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

> Please ignore the headline figures and drill down into the detail i.e. number of airframes on paper vs number of serviceable airframes is a completely different thing. France's recent military adventure in Africa was only possible because of UK support. At this time the British are the only military that could deploy unilaterally at short notice.


I would have thought "deploying unilaterally" was about the last thing any democracy should be contemplating these days. If you can't persuade at least one other country that your proposed overseas military adventure is justified, then it almost certainly isn't.

Martin

In reply to Martin Hore:

> I would have thought "deploying unilaterally" was about the last thing any democracy should be contemplating these days. If you can't persuade at least one other country that your proposed overseas military adventure is justified, then it almost certainly isn't.

As long as it's sanctioned by the UN then why not?
The Falklands being a prime example of that. Sanctioned by the UN and carried out by the UK on its own.

 wercat 16 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

Reference the Falklands the French didn't sell Exocets to our enemy at that time - they were sold at a time when the British attitude to the Falkands was seen as ambiguous internationally.  True technical assistance to the Argentines continued but so also was a lot of help given to the UK.

Materially, the BBC did quite a bit to assist the Argentines through loose broadcasting and the effect of the BBC's assistance to the enemy, albeit negligent rather than intentional, is documented in many places including the memoirs of the Task Force commander.

 wercat 16 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

keeping an eye on the German military in equipment capability over the years I wouldn't under estimate their attitude.  Looking at some of their systems it seems they have really cottoned on to warfare at lightning speed whether it is their racing flakpanzers or the impressive speed and capability of the Leopard II.

I think we over estimate the quality of our own - remember the Army only got Challenger to replace the Chieftain because of te activities of an Ayatollah in frustrating the export of more advanced equipment than our army had to Iran.  Both sides in the Iran Iraq war had the new clansman equipment (as did the Argentines - the taskforce was still converting to clansman during the voyage and still had larkspur sets in service).  We supplied the Argentines as well.  We supplied ourselves with guided missile destroyers that were unable to use those weapons during major engagements because of such problems as microswitches corroded by exposure to what?  Saltwater!!!! Prevented the missiles coming from the magazine from locking and engaging into the launcher, disabling the weapon system that was the ship's raison d'etre.

Not to mention failure of the computers that ran the ships warfighting capability during live attacks by the enemy air force!  Miracle of training and purpose that the task force prevailed really as everything was against it..

As to ground forces - are we not saddled with a lot of worn out internal security vehicles and equipment from Iraq/Afghanistan - Generals have spoken out over that and how it affects our warfighting capability seriously

Post edited at 11:21
 HansStuttgart 16 May 2020
In reply to FactorXXX:

> As long as it's sanctioned by the UN then why not?

> The Falklands being a prime example of that. Sanctioned by the UN and carried out by the UK on its own.


It did help that the Dutch taught the UK how to break their codes

Post edited at 17:33
 BHound 16 May 2020
In reply to Martin Hore:

Actually it very important, think about our recent humanitarian interventions in the Caribbean after the typhoons or in Africa - How many would have died needlessly in Sierra Leone and as a result of the Ebola crisis if we hadn't deployed. I think the UK having the power to do that without getting bogged down in conversations over who is going to pay for what is a capability that we should be proud of.

 BHound 16 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

We are not and never have been perfect, that's an impossible ask, as we will alsways be one defence review or conflict behind the curve. If Argentina had waited a year it's likely that we could never have retaken the Falklands due to the pending cuts. We are however a completely professional àrmed services with a can do attitude and that goes a long way.

Post edited at 18:54
 wercat 17 May 2020
In reply to BHound:

If I have to agree about a failing in Bosnia I think the UN, at times, behaved lamentably.  The example of the Dutch UN troops who failed to prevent a massacre is particularly terrible.  I'd hesitate to condemn the individuals as I think it was an organizational failure to intervene more aggressively.  But not the EU

Re British failings - procurement, government defence policy and the arms industry was what I was trying to highlight rather than the people manning the ships or troops on the ground.


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