This summer marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War.

Friday May 8 is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the first phase of the war ending - the European conflict concluded in May 1945

It was another three months before the Japanese surrender ended hostilities entirely.

Today in a special edition of Looking Back, we bring you memories of VE Day in Dorset. On that day, Weymouth became a hive of celebration.

The town was full of jolly crowds, masses of flags, Esplanade dancing, and parties.

Overnight the streets had burst into a blaze of colour, for although the official announcement of victory had yet to be made, VE-Day had been appointed and its dawn was merely a matter of hours.

Early on Tuesday an army of Corporation employees invaded the Esplanade, and under their skilful hands a scheme of decoration soon took shape. Standing out from the other beflagged buildings was the Gloucester Hotel, a riot of Allied emblems and bunting. A dais was built in front of the hotel for the thanksgiving service which was to be held at three o’clock, and it was described as 'gay as a cottage garden', with laburnum and sweet-smelling spring flowers.

The front was thronged with laughing, happy people, many of them wearing miniature Union Jacks, the girls with red, white and blue ribbon in their hair. There were lots of sailors in evidence, and as a party of them rolled along, shaking hands with all and sundry and calling out cheery greetings, somebody shouted, “Good old Navy,” and the cry was taken up. It seemed to find an echo from the sea. The atmosphere was charged with a feeling of supreme goodwill, the kind of feeling which, if maintained internationally in the years to come, may save us from another giant catastrophe.

In St Thomas Street and St Mary Street, flags could be counted in hundreds. From the American Red Cross Club, jutting out from the smaller emblems, were “Old Glory” and the Union Jack, both at half mast from President Roosevelt. This gesture was described as 'a nice compliment' on the part of the American director to include Britain in this mark of respect for one of the three great architects of victory. Across the street from the club, was flagged the Naval signal – VE-Day.

Many of the streets in St Mary Street were decorated, including Messrs V H Bennett, which had a striking display. A large figure of a soldier stood in the foreground of one, and below it was the caption “We have endured that you might live.” Behind were figures of British troops going into action.

Flanking this set-piece was a wide streamer depicting a fleet of destroyers, going all out with smoke belching from their funnels. On the floor of another window was a huge red V bordered with narrow strips of blue and white, Britain, the USA, the USSR and China. Messrs Frisby’s had decorated their windows with red, white and blue sandals and socks, but Messrs Plummers struck a serious note, with a cross of diffused gold, beneath which appeared the words, “The light that shone through the darkest hour.”

As the day wore on people began to gather on the Esplanade for the thanksgiving service, and by the time the Mayor (Counc. JT Goddard OBE, MC), the Town Clerk (Mr Percy Smallman OBE) and the officiating clergymen had taken their places on the dais the assembled crowd numbered many thousands. As the notes of Big Ben, striking three, broke on the air, the shouts and laughter and conversation ceased, and silence fell – a silence that felt almost tangible. And across the miles which separate Weymouth from London came the voice of the Prime Minister, relayed by loudspeakers that all might hear.

*Thanks to Richard Samways of Weymouth Museum's history centre for the research.