IT WAS a day never to be forgotten.

Seventy years ago today on 8 May 1945, a wave of euphoria swept across the nation when Winston Churchill heralded VE-Day and the return of peace in Europe from a balcony in Whitehall by proclaiming to the county: “This is your Victory”.

Those words sparked a day of celebration, thanksgiving, street parties and parades. It was the day that six long years of war in Europe came to an end, a day to wipe away the tears and welcome in a new world for Britain and her Allies.

Church bells rang throughout the south, children danced for joy and millions took to the streets to share their happiness as the tangible sense of relief breezed away the dark clouds of war to evoke a carefree spirit across the Southampton.

From nowhere came flags, streamers and even a few paper hats for the street parties that were appearing in neighbourhoods all across the town. Even the brick air raid shelters that had been associated with some of the darkest and most desperate times of the war had received some cheery decoration.

Thousands filled the Civic Centre forecourt for one of the biggest parties Southampton had ever seen, including the town's Mayor who entered into the spirit of the occasion by taking by a fellow councillor’s wife by the hand to lead her in a dance across the forecourt.

Those of us who were not alive to experience the VE day celebrations can never truly appreciate the magnitude of such an occasion, much in the way that anyone who lived through the joy and thankfulness of VE-Day will ever forget what Victory in Europe meant to those who had suffered for so long.