How we're marking the 75th anniversay of VE day
Friday 8 May is the 75th Anniversary of VE Day and along with many of you, M&S colleagues will observe the national two minutes’ silence at 11am to remember the heroes of the Second World War.
The Royal British Legion - 75th anniversary of VE Day organises the national VE Day two minutes’ silence every year and M&S has been working with them since 2009 to raise over £8.5 million for the Armed Forces community.
But our support for the Armed Forces stretches much further back...
In 1941, Marks and Spencer colleagues raised £5,000 amongst themselves to pay for a Spitfire Fighter Aircraft, aptly name The Marksman.
The Spitfire – Mk VB, serial number W3215 – was constructed by Vickers Armstrong and handed over to the RAF on 16 May 1941. On 1 June, it joined ‘B’ Flight of the 609 West Riding Squadron at the famous Biggin Hill fighter station. It’s most illustrious moment was probably Sergeant ‘Tommy’ Rigler’s successful mission on 22 June 1941, when while on squadron patrol east of Dunkirk, Rigler shot down three enemy fighters in one day, despite being hit on the wing by enemy fire.
In October 1941, The Marksman was shot down by enemy fighters (probably the Jagdgeschwader 26 group, or the ‘Abbeville Boys’). Read its full story here
Our commemorative VE Day shortbread biscuit tin
Today, the spirit of The Marksman lives on in the design of a new, limited-edition shortbread biscuit tin, launched this week to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Ian Stokes, one of our inhouse designers, who worked with internationally renowned aviation artist Steven Heyen to immortalise The Marksman said this about the project:
‘I’ve been a packaging designer for over 30 years and in that time this is one of my favourite briefs. Who doesn’t love a Spitfire? It’s so distinctive and evocative of the fight to defend our nation.’
Filled with all butter Scottish shortbread, these tins are in stores now, priced at £5. Five per cent of the total proceeds from sales of the tin will be donated to The Royal British Legion.
Lest we forget
As the 75th anniversary has got closer, we've been asking our colleagues to share their stories of family members involved in WW2. We received so many that we created a digital album to further commemorate the efforts and sacrifices made by the wide M&S Family to who we owe such a great debt. Here are just a few...
This is my lovely Dad, Harold Griffiths, who served as a Doctor in the RAF in Myanmar. After the war, he saved up to put himself through Dental School and then opened his own practice in Salford, Greater Manchester.
He was the nicest man you would ever meet and left me an amazing legacy of hard work, truth and doing the best you can. I hope I’ve made him proud.
This is my Grandmother, Dorris Jackson. During the war, she worked in an Ammunition's factory in Birmingham, soldering bullets together.
Neither she nor my Grandad talked about the war, but I am still amazed that she did such a dangerous job!
"This is Regimental Sergeant Major Charlie Smy. He’s my Grandad.
Somewhere I have a photo of Charlie with 8-year old me outside our M&S store in Ipswich, doing his bit for that year’s Poppy appeal.
Dad was serving in North Africa as a Company Sergeant Major and was refused leave to get married. Eventually his Officer relented and allowed him four days. There was no organized transport, so he hitched a flight in an American DC3 Dakota to get back home to be married.
Mum and Dad saw each other only once in the intervening years, until by way of Malta and Italy, he was demobilized in 1946.
To find out more:
- Find out more about the history of Marks and Spencer
- Read about how we marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day