VE Day 75th celebrations were brought to life by unique and wonderful archive footage

Let’s celebrate the wonderful collections held in film archives across the UK

I suspect there are very few who missed seeing a veritable feast of footage of VE Day 1945 on their TV, laptop, tablet or phone at some point over the first 10 days of May 2020.  The lockdown crisis has, it appears, made more people focus on overcoming adversity and fighting the deadly ‘enemy’ Covid and comparisons made to the same spirit shown during WW2. There is no doubt that moving image archive and testimony to VE Day celebrations showing a nation dancing and singing in the streets, burning the blackout boards and curtains and, for the first time in 6 years, relaxing and realising a better life was round the corner can serve to boost the nation’s mood with a feeling of nostalgia.

Friend’s Mum on left

TV Productions including C4’s  Britain’s Biggest Party   and C5’s  The Lost Films certainly brought archive film to the fore and featured content from FAUK member archives across the UK. It was the use of archive footage, both professional and amateur, in the  Queen’s VE Day Speech 2020  transmitted at 9pm on Friday 8th May 2020 which really got the royal seal of approval with 1 minute 20 seconds of the Queen’s entire 4 minute 10 second broadcast featuring archive footage.

The colour footage shown was shot by my friend’s father and keen amateur filmmaker, Derek Stewart who worked at the time for Kodak and lived in North London. My friend messaged me after the broadcast to say how delighted she was to suddenly see her mother in the crowds (filmed by her father) back in 1945 – she had donated the footage to the Imperial War Museum a short while ago.


As well as providing some wonderful content to broadcasters, FAUK Member archives across the UK produced their own special VE Day tributes featuring many amateur film collections telling personal stories of families and communities across the UK.

London’s Screen Archives:
How London Celebrated VE Day 

Screen Archive South East:
War & Peace

North West Film Archive:
VE Day 1945

Still image from ‘They sang and danced all night’ YFA

Yorkshire Film Archive:
They sang and danced all night
VE Day 8th & 9th May 1945 and Thanksgiving Day May 14th 1945

East Anglian Film Archive
VE Day Anniversay – May 1945


Jane Jarvis

FAUK’s Administrator