Probably at no time in its existence has the prestige of the RAF stood higher than at the end of the Second World War. The huge part that the RAF had played in the Allied victory was emphasised at that time by the fact that it was Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder who was the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander, second only to General Eisenhower himself.
The Germans surrendered at different times on different fronts. German forces in North-west Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein surrendered on 4 May 1945, the day after the last Pathfinder operation to Kiel and neighbouring airfields. Signed at Lüneburg Heath at Montgomery’s headquarters, it came into effect on 5 May.
With the exception of isolated pockets, such as the Dutch island of Texel, complete capitulation of all the German forces came on 7 May. The announcement was delayed until the following day, when Eisenhower’s Victory speech was made. In this press photograph Tedder is sitting to Eisenhower’s left at the time of the speech.
The back of the press photograph, showing how it was used:
The following day, 9th May 1945 – for political reasons, to satisfy the Russians who felt that their critical role in victory had not been sufficiently acknowledged – the ratified unconditional surrender terms were signed in Berlin at Russian Headquarters with Tedder rather than Eisenhower signing the documents. This is the reason why the Russians celebrate the end of the war on 9 May.
Tedder was a consummate diplomat, but perhaps his expression and bearing in the following photographs betrays a little of how difficult the Russians were to deal with.