A joyous ringing of church bells and the sounding of ships’ sirens and factory hooters during 15 minutes before Mr Churchill’s announcement of the German capitulation were the beginning of the VE Day celebrations in Belfast.
Earlier in the day the shopping centres were busy, housewives making a last effort to obtain food supplies sufficient to tide them over the two-day holiday. In the afternoon the city was “invaded” by British, Colonial and Allied troops and Navymen, all eager to participate in the VE Day celebrations.
The big moment was when a vast crowd assembled around the City Hall to hear Mr Churchill’s broadcast.
The Lord Mayor, Sir Crawford McCullagh, addressing the citizens by loud-speaker after Mr Churchill’s announcement, said that they had much to thank Almighty God who had given them victory.
They should remember those who had fallen, the wounded and the sick, and those who had in any way suffered in the war.
“We must not forget,” said the Lord Mayor, “that we are still at war, and that much remains to be done before the world is at peace. We must not slack.”
His final words to the citizens were: “Celebrate the victory and go back to work.”
Huge bonfires blazed in many parts of the city and around them bands of young people danced in jubilant mood right into the early hours of the morning.
Dozens of Hitler effigies were burned on lamp standards, and in some districts the arch war criminal, in effigy, was hanged from the gibbet. People on the Shore Road were attracted by the sound of a bugle band leading a procession of youngsters in the midst of whom was carried the figure of Hitler, wearing his Swastika, but hanging from the gallows.