VE DAY 75: 8 MAY 1945
By Chris Rogers, May 8 2020 07:32AM
Seventy-five years ago today, 8 May 1945, it was Victory in Europe Day in Britain, western Europe and America. In London 50,000 people, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to be there, gathered in Whitehall for Churchill’s announcement. Made in Downing Street but relayed live by loudspeaker to the crowd outside, he proclaimed that the war in Europe would end at “one minute past midnight tonight”. An hour later Churchill appeared with the Royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to great acclaim. Two hours after that, he emerged onto the balcony of 100 Parliament Street, opposite the building containing the underground cabinet war rooms, and said “This is your victory,” before beginning an impromptu rendition of Land of Hope and Glory that the crowd happily joined. Finally, at 9pm, King George VI broadcast to the nation, remembering “those who will not come back” and saluting “the great host of the living who have brought us to victory”.
Much later – after midnight in fact – in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst German commanders were made to sign the surrender again for the Soviet Union, which to this day marks VE Day one day after the rest of the world in accordance with the Allies’ original plan. The resentment this caused in Russia would be one of many steps toward a new conflict that would overshadow the world in the coming decades. This war, though, was over, although it was not until 20 May that the German garrison on Texel, an island immediately north of Amsterdam, was defeated by Canadian forces in the last battle of the European war.
For my father and his mates, their job – to remove or destroy Luftwaffe aircraft, equipment and weapons – was just beginning. On VE Day the advance party left Ostend and drove 230 miles to Twente in Holland. They passed through Arnhem, which my father recalled was still burning and filled with starving citizens, and camped by the road that night. The rear party, meanwhile, sailed from England today. Ahead lay a link up, revised orders, a long drive to Germany, and the secret Luftwaffe test centre at Travemünde on the Baltic coast, at the northern-most point of what would soon become the Iron Curtain.
Chris's first book examines the career and works of British architect Michael Pearson, the third generation to head the practice founded by his grandfather in 1904. Pearson's presidency of the Architectural Association and his pioneering and prescient Burne House building are covered.
"Throws light on significant achievements"
– Patrick Duerden, Practice Director, Donald Insall
Black Dog Publishing, 2010
ISBN 978 1 906155 73 5
Become an architectural detective with Chris's second book, investigating the styles of a thousand years of building in the world's most visited city from the middle ages to the present day. Illustrated and with photographs, maps and addresses, also included are a list of resources and a two-part introduction.
"A little gem"
– Terry Philpot, Tablet
Ivy Press, 2016 with Larousse (French edition) and Akal (Spanish)
ISBN 978 1 78240 406 4
Chris's third book - a publisher's best-seller - reveals the hidden gems as well as the iconic landmarks of London's rich built history, from shops that survived the Great Fire to the 2012 Olympic village. Covering the West End, City and Docklands, the book follows the same format as How to Read Paris.
– Don Brown, The London Society
Ivy Press, 2017
ISBN 978 1 782404 52 1
Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is illustrated with its own collage-style spread.
Ivy Press, 2018
ISBN 978 1 782405 44 3
Commissioned from Chris by the Chief Magistrate for England & Wales to mark the closure of Bow Street Magistrates' Court, this pamphlet celebrates the world-famous institution and its final home. It was given exclusively to guests at a commemorative reception.
"I really like both the research behind it, and its clarity and accessibility"
– Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, Her
Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service
Private press, 2006
The Twentieth Century Society’s new peer-reviewed Journal on commercial architecture in Britain since the 1920s includes Chris’s piece on Fitzroy Robinson's pioneering atrium buildings in the City of London. The piece is founded in original research including archive imagery, interviews and site visits.
Twentieth Century Society, 2020
ISBN 978 0 955668 76 0