Remembering Leonard on VE Day

Stephanie Nield

On Friday 8 May 2020 we commemorate Victory in Europe Day. This year marks 75 years since allied forces announced the surrender of Germany in Europe.

When VE Day was announced, our founder Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC was serving in the British Joint Command in the USA. 

He was the most highly decorated member of RAF Bomber Command and the youngest Group Captain. Leonard was even awarded the Victoria Cross in 1944 for sustained bravery in the face of great danger. 

Leonard later said,

“As the war was coming to an end and I could see for the first time that it looked as if I was going to survive, I was dominated by the thought ‘I’m one of the fortunate ones’. 

“55 million people have died. That’s the figure we know now. Almost all those who were on my first flying training course didn’t survive, so I thought, I’ve got something to be very thankful for. 

“Then I thought I’ve got a kind of duty to those who didn’t survive, not just to go back and earn a living and have a nice life, but somehow to get involved in the struggle to help build, I don’t know how to put it, a better peace. A better world’.”

His experience of war and his drive to create a better world led him to start our charity in his own home. We continue to work, 72 years later, towards a world that is fair and inclusive for everyone.

The selfless sacrifices of this generation liberated Europe from its darkest hour, securing our freedoms today. Join me and the Nation in toasting their remarkable achievement at 3pm on VE Day.