The 8th of May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when the Germans signed an unconditional surrender that brought to an end six years of war across Europe. World War II finally came to an end a few months later when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945.
Sunday 13th May 1945 saw many services of thanksgiving at the churches around the town. Some street parties and pageants followed soon after VE Day, although many were held back to after VJ Day.
People had already sensed that victory was on the horizon. As early as March 1945, Keighley and Craven Holiday Fellowship was putting plans in place for a victory dance, and in April Prince-Smith & Stells Ltd. committed to pay a bonus to every employee in the firm when victory was announced. Evacuees who had come to the town were already returning home. The munition works at Steeton Dump closed a week before VE Day as there was no need for the munitions any more.
Keighley had played its part during the war: many Regular Army units were stationed in and around the town at various times; empty mills were used to store tons of food and medical stores on behalf of the whole country; the town handled over 10,000 evacuees; the Keighley and District Spitfire and Hurricane Fund raised £10,000; men served in the Home Guard; women workers at Prince-Smith and Stells Ltd. produced bayonets for use on rifles; over a million pounds was raised during War Weapons Week; the National Switch Factory manufactured parts for radios used by the Resistance in Europe; and so on.
The names of 296 men of the borough who gave their lives during the Second World War are engraved on a brass plaque in Keighley Library.