A public holiday in France, but not just to take an extended long weekend. No, it is to commemorate the Allied victory ending the 2nd World War in Europe, and falls every 8th May, Anniversary of VE-Day in 1945 marking the capitulation of Nazi Germany.
Ceremonies to mark this will be held in every town and village in France. The Royal British Legion hopes that British and Allied people here will join the French to celebrate this Victory. Please turn out at your local War Memorial, and shake hands with the Mayor and the town personalities.
But victory was bought at a terrible price 1939-1945 as in 1914-1918: there are in France alone over 909,000 graves of fallen British and Commonwealth soldiers, sailors and airmen and memorials to the missing from the two World Wars. They lie in 2921 cemeteries lovingly maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The only one in southern France is in Mazargues, near Marseille, where the dead were centralised after the War.
The American Battle Monuments Commission also maintains 11 military cemeteries in France, including the beautiful Rhône American Cemetery and Memorial in Draguignan. It alone holds the graves of 861 US Forces dead and lists a further 294 missing, mainly casualties from the invasion of southern France on 15th August 1944. Many more were repatriated to the USA for burial. So it is worth reflecting that well over a million Allied Servicemen were Morts pour la France.Further information from Commander Michael Healy MBE, Chairman, Royal British Legion (Nice-Monaco):