EVERYONE knew the news was coming soon – but that did not make it any less a cause for celebration.

The Echo’s front page headline on Monday, May 7, 1945, read: “Hostilities in Europe Are At An End”.

Germany had signed an unconditional surrender and the government declared that Tuesday would be VE Day – a brief period for people to rejoice after almost six hard years of conflict.

See all the pictures of VE Day celebrations across Dorset in a gallery 

The Echo reported: “The air was full of expectancy in Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and surrounding towns this morning. Keyed-up by radio and press statements, the public expected the Prime Minister’s announcement of the end of hostilities in Europe to come at any moment.

“Housewives were busy laying in stocks of bread, vegetables and tinned foods to feed the family while the shops are closed for the VE holiday. In business premises and in front gardens, last-minute touches were being applied to flagpoles and other fittings on which decorations were to be hung.”

Nigel Humphries, whose father Christopher founded solicitors Humprhies Kirk, lived in Swanage but his family were taking a break at the Burdon Hotel on Weymouth seafront.

In an unpublished memoir, From Ration Books to Rock & Roll, Mr Humphries, of Corfe Castle, he recalls being woken to the news of victory.

He writes: “In the street below, the lights of Weymouth were on again and they were thronging with people dancing, singing, cheering, shouting and crying with joy. ‘It’s over’, they cried, again and again.

“We didn’t know what peacetime really meant, having brought up in war torn England, but the joy on their faces told us that the great nightmare was over, and now was the time to celebrate.”

Bournemouth historian John Walker was 12 when victory in Europe was declared. “We already knew at least 24 hours before that Tuesday would be ‘The Day’ so preparations were well advanced for the many street parties held all over the country on VE Day itself,” he said.

“These were mainly aimed at being for the children. Typically large trestle tables, all groaning with food, were set up down the middle of residential roads, with bunting displayed: where possible and available it was stretched across the road from one side to the other. Cakes, jellies etc for the kids - we were still being severely rationed, so an amount of hoarding in preparation had taken place.

“Some of the parties were centrally based for convenience - the largest local one was at Wallisdown for over 1,000 children.”

Winston Churchill reminded people that the period of rejoicing should be brief, with the war against Japan still raging.

“From Monday evening until well into Tuesday, Bournemouth let itself go in celebrating; Monday night, May 7, had become pre-VE Day,” Mr Walker said.

The mayor of Bournemouth, Cllr Harry Brown, planted a commemorative tree near the War Memorial.

Bands played in Meyrick Park and Kings Park, and speeches from the Prime Minister and the King were relayed from the cricket pavilions. Fireworks were let off in the streets.

Winston Churchill said in his speech: “God bless you all. This is your victory. It is the victory of the cause of freedom in every land.

“In all our long history we have never seen a greater day than this. Everyone, man or woman, has done their best. Everyone has tried. Neither the long years, nor the dangers, nor the fierce attacks of the enemy, have in any way weakened the independent resolve of the British nation. God bless you all.”

The Echo described Bournemouth Square that evening as “a miniature Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus”.

The fountain in front of Bournemouth’s Pavilion was switched on for the first time since war broke out.

After enjoying the spectacle, crowds made their way to Norfolk Hotel, where there was more singing and dancing. Couples were doing on the fox trot on Richmond Hill to music being played on the hotel steps.

John Walker said; “The Royal Canadian Air Force, responsible for organising Bomber Command training in Bournemouth throughout the war, held a Gala Dance at the mess hall they ran at the former Indoor Bowling Green (later the former Winter Gardens) with free buffet and beer.

In Poole, a bonfire was built at Fisherman’s Dock, and effigies of Hitler and Goering were made.

The following Sunday, a parade of armed forces servicemen and women, Civil Defence, Home Guard and youth organisations marched through Bournemouth to a victory service in Meyrick Park.

The mayor said: “Today we have had the opportunity of joining together in public to give thanks to God for the deliverance of cur country from the bondage of warfare.”

John Walker said the service was attended by more than 20,000. “The event was described as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, parades ever seen in the town,” he added.