VE Day to be observed in Cayman

Victory in Europe Day, marking the end of World War II, will be observed Friday night in Cayman with a public bonfire at the seaside of the Turtle Farm.

The beacon at the special ceremony will burn from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m..

The Cayman Islands’ beacon – and more than 200 others beacons throughout the hemisphere – will commemorate the 70th anniversary of VE Day when Allied forces accepted the formal surrender of Nazi Germany.

Friday evening’s celebration will include Cayman Islands Veterans Association officials, led by President Dale Banks, a former captain in the U.S. Air Force, as well as CIVA members and relatives.

They will be joined by Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Premier Alden McLaughlin and other government and community leaders.

To mark the anniversary, large fires, or beacons, will be lit on mountaintops, town and village greens, country parks and estates, farms, and, on islands, along beaches and shorelines, according to a government press release. These were also lit in Britain during wartime, and are a long-standing tradition for occasions such as Royal Jubilees, weddings and coronations, the government statement said.

In times of war these beacons served as warnings and were the responsibility of the armed services, which will also receive recognition as part of Friday’s festivities.

Many young men from the Cayman Islands fought alongside Allied forces from the United Kingdom and the United States. Most joined the Trinidad Royal Navy Volunteers and served in active duty, protecting the oil resources around that island.

In addition to Atlantic Sea conflicts, German ships and submarines also targeted vessels in the Caribbean, especially near oil-rich Trinidad, but also around the northern Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Cayman Islands.

A local Home Guard unit received military training, manned watchtowers constructed at strategic locations around the Islands, and were responsible for the maintenance of warning beacons.