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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


NEWS

VE DAY 75 - COUNTY FERMANAGH

11 May 2020

The 75th anniversary marking the end of WW2 in Europe was commemorated throughout Co. Fermanagh over the 8-10th May, with a number of poignant tributes. In 1945, after almost six years of hardship, loss and separation, it was time for people to celebrate and look forward to a brighter future. Exactly 75 years on, our community once again remembered the sacrifices of all those who had lived through WW2 and supported the war effort, whether working on our farms, factories or railways, providing loving homes for children evacuated from our cities or serving at home and abroad. The heroes of today, who are fighting the war against Covid-19, were also acknowledged and in particular those who have been sadly bereaved.

In Fermanagh, with the unique distinction of being the most westerly region in the UK, VE Day 75 was to be celebrated with a number of special commemorative events, which volunteers from Churches, Schools and community organisations had been eagerly planning for months. While most of these events were understandably cancelled due to Covid 19, it was still felt important to remember VE Day 75, albeit in a different way, which practised social distancing and adherence to the restrictions which are currently in place. Unfortunately this required that our local WW2 veterans were unable to be present at any of the tributes to receive our heartfelt gratitude.

However over the VE Day 75 weekend our WW2 veterans were all uppermost in our thoughts and received personal greetings and telephone calls from Viscount Brookeborough Lord Lieutenant for Co. Fermanagh, Arlene Foster First Minister, Elizabeth Trudeau Kennedy US Consul General in NI, Pawel Majewski Republic of Poland’s NI Consul General, Dean Kenneth Hall, Monsignor Peter O’Reilly, Ray Hall Chairman of Fermanagh’s RAF Association and many other civic representatives. Former RAF Flight Lieutenant Bill Eames, who is originally from Enniskillen and attended Portora Royal School, was one of three WW2 veterans in NI to receive a personal VE Day 75 telephone greeting from Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

A special private tribute was performed at 3pm on VE Day, 8th May by students at Enniskillen Royal Grammar School. Annie Fowler read Laurence Binyon’s powerful poem ‘For the Fallen’, Ellen Bloomfield performed the Last Post & Reveille, Pipe Major Matthew Read played ‘Battles Over’ and Dominic Robertson represented the ERGS Army Cadets. The 456 young men from the school who served during WW2 and 50 which paid the ultimate sacrifice were particularly remembered. Gary Wilson, Master of Ceremonies delivered the ‘Nations Toast’ and ‘Cry for Peace’ with a special brass hand bell presented to Enniskillen in recognition of its unique distinction as the most westerly town in the UK to celebrate VE Day 75 and Brian Johnson & Diane Woods from Lisbellaw and South Fermanagh World War Society sounded the ‘All Clear’ on a WW2 air raid siren. Thanks is particularly extended to Elizabeth Armstrong (Principal), Ann Bloomfield (Head of Music) and Cecil Jones (Director of ERGS Pipe Band) from Enniskillen Royal Grammar School for kindly facilitating the poignant act of remembrance on VE Day together with all those who supported these tributes by watching at home via social media.

Similar to 1945, over the VE Day 75 weekend floodlights were projected onto key buildings in Enniskillen as a beacon of hope for the future. This was performed close to St. Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen Castle and Enniskillen Royal Grammar School allowing everyone the opportunity to view the beams of light, forming a ‘V’ in the sky, from their own homes. Thanks to Colin Fawcett, Stanley Moffatt and Roy Crawford for facilitating this tribute. Enniskillen Castle was also lit red by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council on VE Day to mark this anniversary.

VE Day was remembered by many people at home during the two minute National Silence at 11am and also by Dean Kenneth Hall on Sunday 10th May during his special Service of Thanksgiving, which was streamed live and included a message from Viscount Brookeborough, Lord Lieutenant for Co. Fermanagh.

In 1945 there was a collective community spirit and this was evident last weekend once again with everyone having a shared moment to ensure the 75th Anniversary of VE Day was remembered, albeit differently than what was originally planned and adhering to social distancing. Today, like those who celebrated VE Day in 1945, we are confident that brighter days lie ahead and treasure the same debt of gratitude to all those who have made sacrifices on our behalf.