V-E Day

Friday, 8th May is the 75th Anniversary of V-E Day - Victory in Europe Day - marking the end of the Second World War in Europe. Helen, our Church Administrator, has been investigating whether there are people in the church family who remember the huge celebration after the traumas of the war. This is the result.

Barbara C remembers going into Coventry City Centre & joining in celebrations with a huge crowd - she remembers the feeling of excitement & relief. No more dreaded night-time air raids!

 

Peter C who was living down in Devon at the time, recalls a big bonfire & fireworks at a gathering on the outskirts of Cullompton. He also recalls that the American troops stationed nearby organised a party for the local youngsters. He remembers the military band playing  Glen Miller style ....& the dancing! Oh, & there were doughnuts, sweets & chewing gum too.

Lorna: “As an 8yr old living on an isolated farm I vividly remember going with my Dad up to the Wood behind our house to collect sticks and logs for our big VE Day bonfire. Straw bails and old car tyres added fuel, such that the chicken house was in serious danger!

Approximately three miles away at Membury was a huge American Airbase. The soldiers decided they wanted to treat the Primary school children of Lambourn to a V E day party. They sent large army trucks to collect all us kids. We HATED the food, because it was SO SICKLY SWEET... we’d not been used to anything like that with rationing !”

Coventry Telegraph have an excellent series of photos of VE Day in Coventry which can be viewed by clicking the picture.

Wallace Road, Keresley Street party

Stan L.:My immediate memory of  VE day was having a bonfire and fireworks in our back garden, with an effigy of a certain person who shall be nameless (!). I have no recollection of a street party - we lived on a hill in Radford,  Cov. at the time.

Graham Br: I can remember a party in a field with watery ice cream.

 

Audrey G: I would have been in my early 20’s when it was VE Day. I had served in the Land Army until I got married.and became a housewife. I always remember someone official coming to talk to us about organising a street party for the children particularly. When Helen asked me via my daughter to think of some memories, I thought, “oh dear, that is a long way back in time to remember and then I started to think, everyone was very caring and it brought the good out in people, just like Lockdown is doing today. I hope this care and goodness will remain long after we have come through this.”

Kay H: We had a big party in our street in Liverpool, long tables all the way up the street, all the mums baked, there was  bunting out and jelly and cake. I was only 4 yrs old. Further up the street it was bomb site, no houses standing at all.

Margaret B: I remember it was a time of great rejoicing and seeing the flags dangling from people’s houses. There were parties and dancing. I also remember the tape being taken off all the windows and we could see out. (the tape was there to stop the glass shattering and splintering when the bombs dropped).

 

Alan B: I was 10 years old, living in Leicester when it was VE Day and I, with my family had followed the progress of the war daily, we always had  a map  to look at on our table.  VE Day was not unexpected as we knew there would be an announcement in the days leading up to May 8th to say war had come to an end in Europe. Of course war had yet to come to an end in the Far East.

On VE day I remember a Union Flag being hung from the bedroom window and there were many more hanging from houses in our street. We did, in fact go to school that day and we were all given a free mug of pop and a bun. Our street party happened a few days later and I recall tressle tables all the way down the street and singing and dancing, especially “The Lambeth Walk.”

 

Jenny Y: It was sunny and warm. I was about 4½ years old. I lived in Southampton. Everyone seemed happy this was very strange my mother and father took me out in a pushchair a few streets away. There was a bonfire in the middle of the road and everyone was dancing and singing and happy. People brought out cakes and drinks. I didn’t really understand when they said it’s all over, the war’s finished.

Brenda L. I grew up in a North Cotswold Village and we were very sheltered from the effects of the war as we were quite isolated. geographically  I attended school in Warwick which was 18 miles away. We had  an American Base near us but we rarely saw the troops. I was 12 years old at the time war in Europe came to an end and I remember a day of celebration but in all honesty I do not think we really understood We had a party in the village and people brought food.

Kath L: At the end of April 1945,after nearly six years of war time, preparations were beginning for the celebrations to mark the end of hostilities. There would still be hardships to cope with......rationing etc. but the lights were about to come on again. As a family,we had sad moments as we remembered the four young men from our street---including my brother---who had died on active service.  Bur we were also looking forward.............

On May 8th,,after a day's holiday,with my Mum and Dad,and many friends  and neighbours, I went in Girl Guide uniform, to the Thanksgiving Service held in the local Church Hall on Binley Road. I was very proud to carry the Colours (Union Flag) down the aisle. It was in some ways quite a solemn occasion, but we all sang joyfully. After the Service there was dancing and singing in the field by the Hall.

As we went home later, we saw at the end of the road, by a wall, large illuminated models of Coventry's three majestic spires------truly a symbol of hope for the future.

John W : On VE day, at the age of 16, John was at the cinema in Cwmgorse, Wales. Half way through the film the manager stopped the film to announce that the war in Europe was over. He recalls everyone then left the cinema to celebrate with everyone out in the street. Unfortunately, John cannot remember what the film was, but l guess that wasn't the priority amidst the celebrations!

Val McE It was the day of our annual GYMANFA GANU. After weeks of rehearsals we were in the chapel enjoying the singing when one of the Deacons came and announced that the War in Europe was over. I can’t remember but I’m sure the quality of the singing went up a few notches after that!

Doreen & Stan S:  Lots of flags being hung from windows and parties came later.

 

Cath B was 12 years old at that time and remembers the exitement most clearly sitting at a long table in the middle of the road and having party food served to them  by the grown ups. Chairs were borrowed from a local church. Everybody said a prayer and thanked God for freedom. Lots of lovely food of trifle cakes, lemonade,balloons and red white and blue bunting were there. Someone had a music player playing the songs they all recognised and lots of people were dancing and singing until it got dark and the children had to go home.

Wendy A:  During the war years my family lived in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham.
In 1945 as we celebrated the end of the war, restrictions were lifted and my father was able to put up a string of lights between the trees in the front garden of our house.
As to the the approaching VE Day celebrations I remember my mother saying to me that there was going to be a parade, with a competition for children to dress up - the theme - as a ‘Doll in a box’.
She thought it would be a lovely idea if I was dressed up as a “Doll - in a box” and so be able to take part.
I was nearly 5, but I decided that it was not something I wanted to do, or to take part in this parade.
I have no further memories as to whether or not this idea was suggested more than once, even so I was not dressed up as a ‘Doll’ or took part in the parade.

 

Margaret L. was in London on VE Day and remembers the big celebration at Trafalgar Square and seeing the King and Queen on the balcony at Buckingham Palace.

Glenys H. remembers having to work on VE Day

Sally M. remembers celebrating VJ Day rather than VE Day.

 

You can hear some other memories from archives of the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire here
 

Prayer

 Almighty God, we ask that we who honour the memory of those who have died in the service of their country and of the Crown, may be so inspired by the spirit of their love and fortitude that, forgetting all selfish and unworthy motives, we may live only to your glory and to the service of mankind, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen