Oxford marks VE Day anniversary with music, bagpipes and bunting

RED, white and blue bunting was hung up and flags flown as Oxfordshire joined celebrations marking the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Victory for Europe Day marks the formal acceptance by the Allies of Nazi Germany's surrender in 1945, and while the war continued in the Far East until August, it was a cause of much rejoicing at the time. While the coronavirus lockdown made huge gatherings like those in 1945 impossible, commemorations were still taking place at isolated homes and online.

Veterans and well-wishers usually gather at the county's war memorials to pay tribute to those who served in the Second World War and paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. But today many stood in their doorways to unite for a two-minute silence at 11am and 'stay at home' tea parties in the afternoon. The poignant moment was broadcast on television and radio and led by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who both laid a wreath at a war memorial near Balmoral.

The anniversary was also marked with a national sing-a-long to Dame Vera Lynn's 'We'll Meet Again'. Among those joining in were bus drivers, engineers and cleaners at Stagecoach Oxfordshire. In Oxford, bagpipe player William Smith played a stirring tune to his neighbours to mark the occasion.

Standing on the corner of Lathbury and Woodstock Roads, Mr Smith, elegantly attired in kilt and full unifom, joined musicians from around the world at 3pm to play 'Battle's O'er' - a traditional march tune written especially for VE Day. Before the event, he said: "I am proud to be participating in this historic international event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, a pivotal moment in our history. "It's a chance to commemorate those who sacrificed so much and celebrate the peace that they achieved."

Organiser and pageant master Bruno Peek said: "The fact that over 1,000 pipers in 28 countries took part from the safety of their homes during this difficult time in all our lives, shows the determination and strength of the family of piping throughout the world that wants to pay tribute to the many pipers that lost their lives during WWII. I had a tear in my eye, knowing that these pipers were playing this together at this special moment in time."

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Labour MP for Oxford East Anneliese Dodds, shared a picture of this paper's special edition marking the 75the anniversary of VE Day with memories from the archive.

She said: "So important to remember the incredible and inspiring stories of 75 years ago."

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