Chris Lloyd looks at how November 11 was commemorated 75 years ago at the end of the Second World War

THERE were two celebrations to mark the end of the Second World War 75 years ago: Victory in Europe Day on May 8, and Victory over Japan Day, on August 15.

Then came the Armistice Day commemorations of November 11, and no one was quite sure who they were remembering.

“It may be the first and last time that November 11 is held as the National Day of Remembrance for both wars,” said The Northern Echo. It explained that the Government was wondering about keeping the November date as a British Legion Day of Remembrance but instituting a Second World War day on the third Saturday in August, midway between the VE and VJ days.

This never happened, but we have maintained the tradition that started in 1939, of the two-minute silence being held on the nearest Sunday to November 11 so that wartime production was not hampered, of observing both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

Seventy-five years ago, there were ceremonies at war memorials across the region, and the Echo reported from the Cenotaph in London where the 19-year-old Princess Elizabeth took a part in the service for the first time, alongside her father, George VI.

“Not since the first Armistice Day can I remember a more moving atmosphere,” said the Echo’s London observer.

He also noted that the two minutes silence was no longer “broken by women who couldn’t stand the tension of those moments”. These sobbing women were the grieving mothers and wives whose losses from the First World War were no longer so painfully raw.

The world had moved on, and there were other things to worry about. The Echo’s front page on November 12, 1945, carried a scary briefing from the Chief of US Air Forces, General Henry H Arnold, who predicted that there were soon be atomic bombs travelling between continents at 3,000 miles-an-hour, or falling, like rain, from space ships outside the earth’s atmosphere.