Imagining the Nation
Chapter 4 Illuminations (1919-1945)
Chapter 4 Illuminations (1919–1945) At nine o’clock on the evening of 8 May 1945, King George VI announced to radio listeners across Britain that the Second World War had ended in Europe. The day had been a public holiday, and like other people across the country, Londoners celebrated in the streets of their city, gravitating towards the centre, seeking out public celebrations. George Broomhead was among them: I caught the train to London and made my way to Trafalgar Square and after a while I climbed onto the lion and finished up perched on its head and someone passed me the Union Jack […]. I was trying to conduct the singing in the crowds at the same time! Those were unforgettable scenes, dancing and singing – it went on all night.1 Public celebrations such as these were widely reported in the national and international media, and have become some of the central images of VE Day in Britain. This version of the event is still prominent in the contem- porary British imagination, and Trafalgar Square is an important part of this picture. However, the Square in 1945 was the centre of a city that was perhaps less imperial and more focused on domestic matters than before the war, with the bomb damage inescapably evident in London’s built environment and in the lives and health of its residents. Whereas Britain at the outbreak of the First World War had been at the height of its impe- rial reach,2 by the end...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.