VE day 75 memories

composite phot of village decked out for VE Day 75
Photos taken by Leonora Shephard
The scrap book under construction
The scrap book under construction

Lots of stories follow from folk to help build the scrap book ……..

My memories of VE Day 1945 by Mary Nesling, Bladen Valley

I do actually remember V E Day! I was 4 and staying with my Grandparents who lived in South Street, Bridport. At the time, I had measles and had to stay in a darkened room with the curtains pulled over. I also remember a lot of activity in the house and couldn’t understand why. People talking in loud voices downstairs and, as the day progressed, the tension grew. Being in the upstairs bedroom I could peep out of the window and see a lot of business in the street below. Flags being put up, people milling around and a couple of pianos on the pavement. By the evening, people were dancing and singing. We were supposed to be asleep (heaven knows how) and feeling a little abandoned. One or other of my parents would pop their heads round the bedroom door to see if we were asleep. We would pop back into bed if we heard then coming upstairs. As a four year old in the war all this joviality was unusual and perhaps this is why I remember it. The house was between two pubs and I am sure there was plenty of drinking, but of course, I wouldn’t know about that then!

V E Day by Amanda Parker’s father (Affpuddle)

My name is Clive Coster and I lived in East London during the war. I was 12 on VE Day but can’t remember much other than having our food in the street at a party. Below is a cutting from the East London Advertiser showing the parties.

cutting from East London Advertiser 8 May 1945
cutting from East London Advertiser 8 May 1945

VE Day Recalled By Bob Holman & his sister, Affpuddle

I have had the photograph for many years, an echo of a distant past. I was a baby, just nine months old, in my mother’s arms on VE Day 1945. But I came to the giant street party as the picture clearly showed. Unfortunately, having rummaged through the house top to bottom, I have not been able to find it! As you would imagine being so young at the time, I have no recollection of that very special day all those years ago. However, my sister 10 years older than me, has vivid memories which I can share with you. Sylvie, born in 1935 was 10 years old at the time and remembers the day with great affection. A giant long table and chairs was put out in the middle of our road. All the children were sat around it and a feast of enormous proportions was laid. By today’s standards, the food was very basic and included such delicacies as Bovril sandwiches and trifle! Someone had actually bought bananas which no one had seen through all the years of the war. To make them look more, they were made into sandwiches. It was assumed that this had been produced from the black market as all food items had been rationed. Ration books (green for children, buff for adults) greatly limited the food chain. People were leaner and probably much fitter then.  However, everyone chipped in with food for the table and best Sunday plates were produced. All the worries and cares of those war years were swept aside and there was great rejoicing with dancing and singing in the street. “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day”.

Now where ever did I put that picture?

Memories  of  WW2  &  V E Day 1945 By Audrey Grindrod, Briantspuddle

My first memories are of being woken up in the night to the sound of the air raid siren and Mummy putting me into my pale pink siren suit which had a hood attached to it. Then Daddy would carry me downstairs to the cellar which must have been very cold and damp – no wonder I’ve suffered from chest problems ever since! Kindergarten school was a short distance away along a track near fields. One day there was a group of us walking home and suddenly a German plane swooped down firing at us and we jumped into the hedge screaming. Amazingly none of us were hurt but certainly badly shocked. The plane crashed nearby. In 1942, due to my poor health, we moved to Bournemouth. I was 6 years old then. At first, we lived in Queen’s Park and on Sunday May 22nd, 1943, at lunchtime, we heard a tremendous noise of bombing somewhere near. It was the Lansdowne and central Bournemouth. The Metropole Hotel was filled with Candia, American and Australian forces. A huge number were killed. At the same time Beales, the department store, was burned down and many more buildings in the town centre. That day has stayed in my memory. In 1944 we moved to Claremount Avenue, off Castle Lane in Bournemouth and there is a photo of me holding a flag on V E Day outside the front door. The street party was exciting, and I am sure there were lots of fish paste and Spam sandwiches!

Memories of the war when I was little By Nigel Payne, Briantspuddle

My earliest and only clear recollection of those years was being picked up by my father who had just returned home from a three week fishing trip to Icelandic waters. (He was a deep sea trawler skipper, one of the few left fishing to help feed the nation. All other trawlers had been requisitioned by the War Office for mine-sweeping duties, since they carried all the necessary gear to carry out this task.) I was carried down our drive to the front gate where I remember watching the skyline ablaze with light from Cardiff Docks following a massive bombing raid by the Luftwaffe. We lived on a hillside several miles from the docks in those days, with a clear view of the conflagration. I would have been about 2 years old.

V E Day 1945 By Deborah Hepburn’s  Mother (Affpuddle)

My name is Audrey Foy, I am 87 years old and when the end of the war was declared I was just 12.  I lived in Widnes, a working town on the north banks of the River Mersey about 12 miles from Liverpool.  Widnes had many chemical factories in the town, I lived a little way out of town, in a small estate of semi-detached houses built in1937. In the early years of the war we had many air-raids, mainly German bombers on the way to destroy the docks and shipping in Liverpool. We had a few bombs dropped in Widnes but fortunately none of the chemical plants were hit, otherwise I am not sure I would be here now.  My mother, brother and I spent many nights in the air-raid shelter with other families, my dad was on duty as an Air Raid Warden.  We would go to school next day as normal.

By the time VE Day came life was much quieter, as the bombing in our area had stopped.  I had started at the local Grammar School in the previous September, so was feeling rather grown up. I know we were all very excited about the war ending and looked forward to having things like oranges and bananas, my brother and I had only ever had one between us and didn’t know how to open it! My mother had always been good at organising, so she invited other ladies to help organise a street party to celebrate.  As she was 6 months pregnant, I was asked to call at each house and ask them to donate provisions or food for the party, some gave tea, sugar, butter all things on ration.  Several made small cakes and scones, other sandwiches, ie.potted  beef paste, salmon paste, egg, spam and of course corned beef.  All the bread had to be sliced, no sliced bread then, only National Bread and margarine. I don’t remember having Jelly as blocks of jelly were unobtainable, we may have had tinned fruit in jelly made with gelatine.  We used to have a soft drink we called “Balm Pop” made with yeast like ginger beer and dandelion and burdock, and sold in large stoneware bottles, we loved it and would probably had drunk that.  The adults had tea or later beer.

The road was a cul-de-sac so tables were put in the road, flags and bunting whatever was available were put up. There were no paper plates or cups, sheets were used for tablecloths. Ordinary dining tables and chairs were brought out and at about 4.o,clock food was brought out from my home and set out for the children, adults later had what was left. My Dad and several men dragged our piano out onto the pavement under the flowering cherry trees, Mr Hewitt (who was an undertaker) and lived at No.2 played the piano most of the evening, all the latest songs we knew.  We played games and had a big heavy rope across the road, the mothers taking turns to turn the rope for skipping and they all joined in and enjoyed it as much as the children.  We had sing-songs and dancing in the road, my shoes were ruined on the tarmac road. I think we all went to bed very happy, luckily the weather was warm and dry and as it was double summertime it was daylight till 10 o’clock.

V E Day & evacuation memories By George Sherwood, Briantspuddle 

We were living in Brockley in the Borough of Lewisham in South East London. On VE day I went up to London with my brother: I was 13, he was 15.  I didn’t want to stay behind with my parents and go to tea parties and all that stuff.  My brother suggested we go up to London by tram, we went over Westminster Bridge, the tram went half-way along the Embankment and turned up into a tunnel that takes them off the road and goes up North. We got off before that. There were people everywhere, everywhere.  We heard that the King and Queen and the two princesses were coming along the river, so we stayed there.  It was a job to get near the river.  They came along and were escorted by dozens and dozens of small boats, people were going along with them.  It wasn’t very successful because we couldn’t see them, but they were there, and everybody cheered. They were right out in the middle of the Thames which is quite wide there. We went up to Piccadilly or Trafalgar Square – we went round and about and had a drink somewhere.  We thought we ought to go home because the trams were stopping as it was getting late, so we caught the tram back home.  There were no memorable events, we were just caught up in the atmosphere.  We got home pretty late, about one o’clock in the morning.

We were evacuated to Crewkerne for just under a year during the Blitz in 1940.  I still have a letter I wrote home to my parents. I treasure this letter because we didn’t see them for a year. It was a bit hard, but you make the most of life – I was about nine then.  It was absolutely and utterly different.  I quite liked the country.  We stayed there, billeted with a fairly elderly couple who had a son in his 30s in the Services.  Everything was rationed and we had appetites like pigs – even sweets were rationed.  We weren’t terribly happy there.  Well, we were happy outside the house, but the couple weren’t very kind to us. We were two youngsters who got up to mischief and they were always telling us off.

As we hadn’t seen our parents for some time, they wrote to us and asked us if we’d come home for a weekend and see them at the end of 1941: the Blitz was still going on.  They suggested we got on a coach and went back to Crewkerne after the weekend.  We went home, and never went back.  We left all our stuff there.  We stayed in London for the rest of the war.  Well, we did get evacuated again to a school.  Our school was bombed so they commandeered a very nice house in Surrey, near East Grinstead.  It was converted into a school and we were there for two or three months.  London was still being bombed, we slept down in the air raid shelters.  We could hear the bombs above. My father was quite elderly; he founded the Society of Genealogists.  My mother had to go out to work for The Gas Company as there wasn’t much money coming in. My father’s business died when America came into the war and everything was censored, there was a lot of record searching. My brother and I both did a paper round, sometimes during a raid, but we both kept on doing it.

V E Day 1945 & the ant’s nest! By Maureen Williams, Affpuddle

On 8th May 1945 I was a pupil in the 6th form of Dame Allen’s School in Newcastle upon Tyne. We had all been warned earlier that the war in Europe would end on that day, so the entire school struck work and we went for a celebratory swim and picnic in the Upper Tyne Valley. Unfortunately for me, whilst having the picnic, I discovered that we had set up in the middle of a very active ant’s nest and we were all very quickly covered in painful ant bites. On returning home I immediately took a bath in bicarbonate of soda to soothe the bites but, despite this, I and my classmates were still itching all over when we collected our school certificates at a ceremony held the following day. The 8th May 1945 was very much a double celebration for me as, despite the painful encounter with the angry occupants of a Tyneside ants nest, I did very well in my school certificate exams and I went on to study at Homiton College Cambridge after the war.

My family in the war! By Pamela Boyt, Affpuddle

My father was Frank Betteridge. During the war he was on the search lights in Essex. He told us how the British planes would flash a code to them on the ground so they could take the lights off them and just follow the German planes in, the Germans would try and take the lights out by firing down the beam of light. He was them sent to Lamphy Palace in Wales to train and then to Farlington Marshes near Portsmouth in an operation called ‘Starfish’, a secret department created by the Air  Ministry to defeat the German bombing by creating a mock  town. They built tall towers,   filled them with oil and building rubble so the windows looked like light peeping through, the place was set ablaze from the control bunker. The control bunker still remains in ruins to this day.  In April 1941 200 bombs were dropped on the marshes, these bombs were intended for Portsmouth. My dad told us it was cold and wet!!! He was then sent to Egypt in preparation for embarking to Japan, then the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945,  so they didn’t have to go. I think they spent some time getting home, back to the UK. I don’t know how they celebrated VE Day, but I am sure they did in some way.

My grandfather was in the Home Guard in West Sussex during WW2.  They had 5 rifles between them.  The Germans would drop bombs on London, as they flew back Germany any remaining  bombs would be dropped onto Sussex Surrey and Kent. When the docks in London were bombed one night, they hit the Tate and Lyle sugar building the fire could be seen from my grandmother’s garden. My mother was Freda Dudman and during WW11 she was a nurse at St Richards hospital Chichester.  She looked after airmen who had been shot down and suffered horrendous burns, I think these thoughts remained with her all her life. She was visiting my fathers’ parents who had been evacuated from London to Rugby when the bombing of Coventry took place, she would tell of all the awful things she saw, visiting Coventry Cathedral the day after the bombing. On VE Day she went to London with a group of her friends to celebrate.

WAR TIME MEMORIES  by Sue Taylor, Briantspuddle

I was very young during the war, so my memories are somewhat hazy and possibly a bit second hand. I grew up on a farm in Berkshire, my father being the farmer so therefore in a reserved occupation.  Living in the countryside on a farm, we were lucky to have our own milk, eggs meat etc., we were also a refuge for many of our family who had either been bombed out of London, or whose husbands were fighting abroad, my Grandparents, two aunts and two cousins.   Also, various Commonwealth officers were billeted on us who were recovering from wounds that were not bad enough to send them home.  Two Canadian Air Force pilots I remember well; I thought they were so dashing and named them Bim and Bomb.  I remember they had to sleep in the dining room as all the bedrooms were overflowing.

My father was the Captain of the local Home Guard, which was made up of mostly the older farm workers and the elderly of the village, plus one or two youngsters who were too young to join up.  He used to parade the Home  Guard through the village and my mother made a very small uniform for my brother so he could parade too. There was a rifle range set up in an old chalk pit on the farm which was used for firing practise and there were also several anti- tank devises made of old oil drums full of fuel and booby-trapped hidden in various roadside banks around the village, just in case…there were also a row of home-made ‘Molotov Cocktails’ (bottles filled with petrol with a fuse in the top)  lined up at the back of our outside ‘two holer’ privy, so one sat down with great care!  Fortunately ,there was an inside loo too, but with so many people in the house we did have to brave the outside one quite often. There was a dummy airfield on the farm to draw fire from the nearby real one and the only casualty from that was the poor roadman who had his arm blown off as he was passing by when an enemy aircraft dropped its load of bombs. I can remember seeing a glow in the sky at night, which was London burning, from the village,

Two of my Uncles were in the Black Watch, which acted as rear guard at Dunkirk.  Unfortunately, they were both taken prisoners at Dunkirk, so spent the rest of the war in prison camps.  Another Uncle, my father’s brother, fought in North Africa, then up through Italy where he was awarded the Military Cross, and was then in Greece on VE Day.

I  remember on VE Day there was a parade of the Home Guard through the village with the church bells ringing and later a big bonfire, and probably a lot of celebrating though that I do not remember.

V E Day in Tolworth By Brian Flagg, Briantspuddle

I was at school with boys and girls, in a brick air raid shelter. During the early part of 1940, my teacher gave us ear plugs to stop us hearing the bombs coming down. We had ‘iron rations’ such as nuts and cheese and tomato sandwiches. With the bombs coming down, our teacher started singing ‘There will always be an England’. ‘that includes you Brian Flagg’; I got the stick here – yes Miss!

Moving on during the war, my father was in the Home Guard. I had to climb on a ladder to close the blackout curtains together. We had long nights of bombs. My mother and I went under the table – glass everywhere! As time went by, we saw doodle bug bombs coming over; you had to run for your life when the engines stopped. This was followed by V1 rockets which we saw from the window. More rockets were being built – V2 and V3. I lost a lot of my friends but as the years have passed, I have made a lot of friends.

V E day came! My mum and dad and myself listened on a small radio – NO TV then! I would like to have gone up to the V E Day celebrations in London.Later, in 1948, I had a letter to say I had to do my National Service, 18 months in Catterick. My mother sent food parcels in the post.

A few memories for VE day By Philip Martin, Affpuddle

Like many children growing up in the 1950s and 60s, we heard relatively little in family circles about the war itself.  It was not to be spoken about in front of the children, and I recall my maternal grandmother, on a number of occasions, stopping my grandfather when he ill-advisedly broached the subject.  So, my recall of the after-effects of the war is rather scanty.  I know that one of my grandfathers was a driver for the army, and then an ambulance driver in France, and the other – who had gone through the whole of the First World War as a young soldier, including serving at the Somme – was deemed unfit for active service.  My father was just too young to serve (he started his national service in 1946, when he was posted to Iraq with the RAF).  Yet I can piece together a fragmented history from scraps of conversation or stories related from time to time.  When my paternal grandfather went to war, he loaned his chickens – a most valuable commodity at that time because of the shortage of eggs – to his brother in law, my Uncle Dick, who promptly sold them for ready cash on the black market.  He was to receive his come-uppance some ten years later when, hearing of an attempted robbery at a local bank, hurried to draw out his life savings of £80, which he put in his back pocket for safe-keeping before going to see the Spurs at home at White Hart Lane, giving an unknown gentleman behind him a temptation too great to resist.  My grandfather enjoyed telling the story.

The family lived in North London, and the bombing there started in August 1940.  My paternal grandfather’s house suffered bomb damage, which trapped my grandmother and aunt at the back of the house, while the faithful wire-haired terrier at the front door did her best to hold the ARP rescuers at bay when they tried to enter, though they prevailed, thankfully, in the end.  Other older family members and friends were fire-watchers, and I remember one telling me that they had seen a Heinkel bomber shot down, flying low and following the railway line, looking to crash-land. Looking though my late mother’s letters and photographs, I recently found the letter sent by her school informing her parents of the Evacuation plan (see below).  Dated 3rd April, 1939, it states that the act of sending a child to school on the day notified for evacuation (such notification to be made by ‘the radio, the Press, or by any other means’) was sufficient to sanction evacuation, for thereby ‘it will be understood that they wish the children to leave London in the care of the School teachers’.  Attached to the letter was a meagre luggage list, stipulating what was to be taken in a rucksack or a haversack.  Such lists, I understand, were largely standard issue following government guidelines.  The list also includes an instruction that all children should take their ‘Respirator’ – a redolent word right now of course – and one, which in 1939, carried particularly sinister overtones of unthinkable intent, the indiscriminate gassing of civilian populations. 

My mother, aged 13 and accompanied by her six year-old sister, was evacuated on 1st September 1939, to Clacton, where she stayed until the 23rd January 1940.  It was apparently not a happy experience, and my grandmother fretted for the well-being of her children.  Many evacuees from London returned early in 1940, as there had been no bombing in the city, though many also were evacuated again later that year following the start of the bombing that heralded the Blitz.  My grandmother chose to keep her children at home, and put them to bed each night in the rather foreboding care of her dank and dark basement, wherein my mother amused herself by drawing great black spiders on the walls to cheer the heart of her little sister (both women were terrified of spiders their lives through, probably as a consequence of this little jape).  But they remained safe, despite the bombing aimed at the industrial plants in the area.

At the end of the war, there were street parties, despite the lack of food, and dripping sandwiches, I understand, made up the staple fare.  My grandmother was a keen amateur photographer (she would shut herself in her wardrobe to develop her own films, and she once took a photograph of the R100 airship over London in June 1930, which I have still).  Among her collection I found this photo (below) of such a street party.  She has placed a cross over a child in a conical hat, which I take to be her nephew.  Next to the large sign, rear left – ‘God Save the King’ – there is a somewhat inexplicable presence of a step ladder, which I can only guess was there as a means of escape for the adults should the children become too boisterous.  In fact, all the children look remarkably well-behaved, even perhaps a little subdued.  Some of the girls seem to be wearing home-made hats in imitation of those worn by nurses.  A very young and splendid fellow near the front sports a tea-cosy worn after the style of Napoleon.  I wonder if he still has it.

V E Day with the BBC By Elizabeth Whatley, Affpuddle

My father was invalided out of the Royal Navy in the 30’s. At the beginning of the war he worked at the Science Museum in London, but when it was bombed, he joined the BBC with whom he remained until he retired, in charge of their overseas control room. When war was declared on 3 September 1939, the BBC had been secretly preparing for years, so that broadcasting could carry-on whatever happened. The BBC had bought  Wood Norton Hall in Evesham, Worcestershire to enable it to relocate its operations away from London and the other urban centres, in the event of hostilities. A number of temporary buildings were quickly erected around the historic house to provide an emergency broadcasting centre. A dozen studios were built, and by 1940, Wood Norton was one of the largest broadcasting centres in Europe, with an average output of 1,300 programmes a week. For a while it was also a monitoring station. Linguists, many of them foreign nationals, were hired to listen in to broadcasts from Europe. When my father started working for the BBC, my parents and brother moved to Evesham where I was born. I was only a toddler on V E Day but my brother, aged 12,  attended the parties which were held.  My father continued to work in the BBC control room ensuring broadcasts went out on the big day.

 V E Day memories By Lizzie Guinn, Affpuddle & her mother Doreen Sharpe, Sherborne

I’m afraid I don’t have a great deal to contribute for your VE Day memories. Frank has no memories (he was only 3). My mother was indeed still in Abergavenny, a driver in the ATS  (like the Queen), but my father, whom she had married in April 1943, was still in India and in fact did not return to the UK till May 1946 – he was not demobbed until July 1946. There was then still a possibility that he could be sent on to Burma rather than the jungle training  at Lohard Darga, near Ranchi that he was then involved in. So she says that on a very personal level there was not a lot to celebrate, rather a sense of anti-climax. She seems to remember going to the pub with fellow ATS drivers but nothing more than that. None of the wild celebrations I’m sure we will see pictures of next week.

War time memories from my mother by Sue Jones, Turnespuddle

My Mum had a gift for storying telling.   Character, place and action were all thrown into sharp relief.  No stories were more compelling than those born from her vivid recollections of WW11.  She was a child of 9 when war broke out in 1939.  Living ¼ mile from Birkenhead Docks or the Great Float as the body of water which was formed from the natural tidal inlet was called, she was always going to be in the thick of the action. My Dad always read me a stories from books, but storytelling with Mum, when my Dad was working away from home, was a different matter altogether.  It was always accompanied by a midnight feast, which in adult time was probably more like 7.30pm.   I was tucked up in bed, munching biscuits, and able to choose which story to listen to from a wide repertoire. 

‘I’d like to tell you a story’ and so I will.  But with any good story we must set the scene.  In this case I need to introduce you to my Mum’s next-door neighbours Mr and Mrs Melborne.  Mr Melborne was a bookmaker, and as you probably know, this was an illegal activity at the time.  My Grandfather was a runner for him at the Flour Mills close to the Docks. An irony of the war meant steady work and income following the Great Slump of the of the 1930’s depression.  Betting was one of the few things to spend this extra income on. With a uniform consisting of a poacher’s coat, my Grandfather collected and paid out bets at the gates of the Flour Mill.  Mr and Mrs Melborne were larger than life characters, wealthy in the locality and generous party hosts.  Saturday nights welcomed a full house with lots of beer, which wasn’t rationed during the war.   Whilst the guests, including the local constabulary, were partying my Mum’s job was to make up the winning bets, secreting them into small brown envelopes.  The lighting fast mental arithmetic she developed as a result, never left her. So, you get the picture of Mr and Mrs Melborne’s house?  Number 2 Merrit Avenue was a hive of activity with people constantly coming and going.  The debris of the bookie business extended to all corners of the house, so clutter everywhere was normal. 

As the war progressed things became more serious.  Anderson shelters were erected, Dig for Victory had begun, and rationing was introduced on 8th January 1940.  Mr Melborne became an Air Raid Warden.  He was an ideal candidate.  He had a way with people, people liked him, so this combined with a natural authority made him a reassuring figure in the community.  In the early 1940’s Birkenhead Docks, along with Liverpool Docks, were a significant target for the Luftwaffe.  Houses in the Avenue were reduced to rubble and lives of neighbours were lost.  One was a mother of a small baby.  The mother had forgotten her milk so returned to the house for it from the air raid shelter.  The house took a direct hit with her in it.

The Germans didn’t just concentrate on bombing strategic targets and supplies, they were keen to undermine the morale of the civilian population.  Propaganda leaflets fell like confetti at times.  A more sinister twist came when dummies dressed as German soldiers were dropped.  The dummies contained incendiary bombs, and this new tactic took a while to wise up to. One such dummy landed in Merritt Avenue.  Mr Melborne was first on the scene, ready to take charge.  However, in his eagerness to apprehend a member of the German air crew he couldn’t find his tin hat, so he rushed to the scene without it. It was no surprise that Mr Melborne couldn’t find his hat, as my Mother pointed out, no one could find anything in ‘that house’.  The explosion threw him to the ground. The good news is that Mr Melborne had grabbed the metal colander from the kitchen table instead of his hat and was forever sure that this simple kitchen aid was the sole reason for his longevity. When I came along, I too was invited to Mr and Mrs Melborne’s Saturday night knees up.  They must have been in their late 70’s, as I remember them.  I’ve still got photos of them and I remember being fascinated by their black Bakelite phone which had both numbers and letters.  They remained full of fun and energy.  If they were alive now, they would have embraced new technology and all that social media has to offer.  Their state of the art bakelite phone would be in a drawer collecting dust and they would be glued to their shiny iPhone. For sure!

End of the War by Campbell de Burgh (Briantspuddle)

My mum and dad were both serving in the Royal Navy during WWII and dad had already served throughout WWI from the age of 17. He was at the Battle of Jutland in 1915 as a Midshipman on board HMS New Zealand and saw terrible things as battle cruisers were blown up ahead and astern of him. They met in Ceylon in January 1945 whilst dad was a staff officer at HMS Highflyer, Trincomalee, and mum had been drafted out with a section of WRNS to operate radar pickets in the south of the island. They became engaged in February and were married in June just after VE Day and before VJ Day.

Just after VE Day in Ceylon

I hasten to add that my twin sister and I were born the following August I suspect much to the relief of grandpa! Mum recalled that they did have a bit of knees up on VE Day but of course things were still going on in the far east and Ceylon was a staging post for that so the party was short lived until VJ Day – when they really let rip. We came home in 1947 on the last troopship carrying former POWs from Japan. This was a shocking experience for mum but she was never short of baby sitters on the 7 week journey home back to England. The POWs however did their best and somehow got hold of some booze and that helped things along a bit. In England apart from a short while with her mum and dad in Essex she was alone with us whilst dad tidied things up in Ceylon. When he came home there was no work and England was not a good place to be for ex-servicemen who had spent all the war years at sea or abroad so he took a job in West Africa and we followed to live in Sierra Leone for a couple of years. We all came down with malaria whilst living on the banks of a crocodile infested river and mum learned how to use a revolver and shoot straight! Mum was a trooper of the first order and just got on with things … they were like that then.

Kate’s parents were both in the RAF but didn’t meet until after the war. Kates mum was a WAAF radar plotter in England and by VE day her dad was an 19 year old Sergeant Pilot flying Lancaster bombers. On VE day he was standing by to ship out to the far east with a life expectancy of 4 weeks! After VE and VJ day he flew on quite a few of the flights delivering much needed food and supplies to Europe before being demobbed. During the war he had spent some time on Spitfire repair work as an air frame fitter, incuding some time in Warmwell just down the road, before taking to the skies in the footsteps of his late father who was a fighter “Ace” from WWI. Like my mum and dad they had a stoic approach to some of the curiosities of modern life.

Victory Celebrations 1946 By Tasie Russell, Briantspuddle

On 8 June 1946, there was a Victory Parade in London with King George V and Queen Elizabeth taking part.My sister, Fini and I were taken up to Oxford Street by our mother. I can remember being on the pavement outside Selfridges, with all the crowds, watching the procession go past . We all shouted and cheered, and people were calling out for the King. I was only 6 but have never forgotten the day.

V E Day in the Officer’s Mess! By Robin Gainsford, Briantspuddle

I was only one year old my brother four at the time so don’t remember anything. My father, Christopher Gainsford, was a Wing Commander in the RAF based at RAF Tangmere,  training pilots and navigators. I do remember they said they had a huge rather alcoholic party in the officer’s mess. There were a lot of parties in those days. No pictures unfortunately except one of father in uniform. He had spent the war flying, flying boats like the Sunderland and the Catalina from Pembroke Dock in Wales or Sullum Voe in the Shetlands, on operational sorties against U Boats and surface units of the German Fleet. He also trained Pilots and Navigators in Canada and later in RAF Tangmere, West Sussex. In 1947 he was part of the Occupying Forces in Germany.