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Listen to the latest edition11.02am, Friday 6 May 2005
A special programme exploring how a single newspaper reported VE Day: The News Chronicle for May 9th 1945.
VE Day Special
Peter SnowPeter Snow and Random Edition join in Radio 4's season of programmes to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, with a VE Day special on Friday 6th May. As ever, a single newspaper from history provides the stories.
The archive newspaper selected is the News Chronicle for Wednesday May 9th 1945. Its VE Day reports whisk round the country to describe everything from loaves being stolen from a bakers van in Oxford and hurled in jubilation, to a 'Cease Fire' bugled in Sheffield by Joseph Revitt, who sounded the same command in 1918 outside the very railway carriage where the Armistice was signed.

Professor Sander Gilman of the University of Illinois examines the News Chronicle  column advertising a forthcoming shareholders meeting of Rothmans, which had sold more than a thousand million cigarettes in wartime. Just how essential were cigarettes to fighting morale?...how far did army authorities encourage smoking?....did cigarette companies trade on the war in their advertising? What was the post-VE Day legacy to the nation's health? Gilman provides information on the extraordinary fact that it was Hitler's Germany which did the first incisive research linking smoking to serious disease - thanks to the Fuehrer's obsession with cleanliness and his hatred of cigarette smoke.

BBC weatherman and meteorological historian Philip Eden brings alive the Chronicle's  report that 'The Weather is News once again' after the war years when forecasts and reports were privileged information for security reasons. Eden's comments on how people managed without forecasts is exemplified by Essex farmer Martin Knowles, who vividly recalls the methods used by his farmer-father during the war.

This News Chronicle  also reports on the homecoming of POWs. VC winner Godfrey Place took part in the midget submarine attack on the Tirpitz at anchor off Norway, after which he was captured. His portrait can be found at the National Maritime Museum, painted by a fellow prisoner on the back of canvas originally used for theatrical productions in their POW camp. The item also includes sound archive of Place himself.

Peter Snow also meets a former Lancaster pilot and a one-time POW who were part of the massive airlift of 4,500 Prisoners of War back to the UK from Germany on VE Day....as mentioned in the newspaper.
 
Survivors of the German occupation of the Netherlands describe how liberation north of the Rhine only took place on VE Day itself, after the Allied advance had taken a different route following failure at the Battle of Arnhem. Terrible hardship had ensued for the Dutch, as the Chronicle makes clear....hunger, disease and death. As BBC sound archive reveals, the jubilation on the streets of Amsterdam on VE Day had a special edge to it.

This Random Edition features various items of BBC sound archive recorded during the VE Day festivities and mirrored in this News Chronicle . Throughout, Peter Snow takes to the London streets to recall the remarkable scenes of celebration, when Winston Churchill's car could barely make its way through Whitehall.....and a policeman was seen kissing a couple of pretty girls.... 'platonically'.
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