West Sussex resource bank helps people ‘keep calm and carry on’ for 75th anniversary of VE Day

As people of West Sussex prepare to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day, historians are working behind the scenes to create a resource bank that can be used to educate, enjoy and take part in the celebrations.

Friday, May 8, was made a special bank holiday to enable people to take part in huge gatherings and celebrations. Although the new coronavirus has put paid to many planned events, there is still a lot going on across West Sussex.

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Here is what you can do during lockdown to celebrate VE Day

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Janet Duncton, West Sussex County Council chairman, said: “This is such a big day for so many residents and it is very sad that we can’t come together as one to celebrate such a momentous occasion and remember the service and sacrifice of those who lived through the Second World War. But in true wartime style, we are still planning to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On!’.

VE Day in Worthing in 1945. Picture: West Sussex Record Office

“Residents can get involved on the day by exploring the plethora of great materials that our record office and library service have pulled together to mark the occasion online.

“They can also decorate their households with flags and bunting, or even join in with a special rendition of the song We’ll Meet Again, taking place on the BBC from 8pm.”

West Sussex Record Office and the library teams have been working together to create the resource bank, including:

l eBooks about VE Day and the Second World War, which can be borrowed for free from the online library

l digitised resources about the Home Front in West Sussex, including diary accounts and newspaper reports on VE Day and VJ Day

l audio clips of veterans who served in the Second World War

l archive material from the West Sussex Record Office, which can be found by exploring their online catalogue and photo database

West Sussex Record Office is also the repository and conservation centre of Screen Archive South East (SASE), who have created a seven-minute archive film called War & Peace.

The film gives an impressionistic view of the Home Front and the original VE Day, as seen through the eyes of film makers across the south east of England at that time.

The county council is also working alongside the Royal British Legion to make sure that people from across the county can support the day in other ways.

Pete Bradbury, Armed Forces champion for the council, said: “In these unprecedented times, it is still key that we mark special national occasions, especially one as important as the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

“Please try to mark the day in some way, shape or form. Whether that is participating in the two-minutes’ silence at 11am, remembering not only the service and sacrifice of the Second World War generation, but also to reflect on the impact Covid-19 has had on us as a nation; or joining in with the VE Day livestream from the Royal British Legion, who will be sharing stories and memories from those who served and sacrificed during the Second World War.

“Showing your appreciation and support will keep the memory of so many alive for years to come. If you are on social media, you can follow the activity using #VEDay75 and we would love you to share how you are celebrating VE Day with us, by posting pictures or videos and tagging in the county council on Facebook or Twitter.”

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