VE Day 75: Remembering the Day of Celebration
Recalling stories of the great day of celebration!
We can’t really imagine the party that took place that momentous day 75 years ago on May 8th, 1945. To bring it alive, it would be great to hear of any stories you have been told about the day. It may have been a relative or family friend that told you what it was like to celebrate after years of struggle. It doesn’t have to be many words, just a quote or sentence that captures the feeling of the time.
Here’s an example of the type of memories that would be great to receive:
“I was in the WRNS when the news broke that the war in Europe was over, the Navy ‘spliced the main brace’, in other words issued a double ration of rum at the usual midday ‘up spirits’… it must have been more than a ‘double grog’ as I could hardly stagger back to the wrennery for lunch. Later that day as I walked back from HQ I passed a matelot stark naked except for a Union Jack draped around his middle!”
Just make sure you add your name, and the name of the person who told you the story of that never to be forgotten day. Just click here to email us.
Memories of the great day
“We did have a celebration and a street party on VE Day, and there were a lot of flags, there were a lot of people dressed in red white and blue. We were all friends together – so we had a wonderful time. Then I went with a group of other young people up to Trafalgar Square on the train to see the celebrations which were very spectacular. My memory mostly is about how many people there were, the pushing and shoving, and how you couldn’t get to see all the things you would like because of how packed Trafalgar Square was – but it was an exciting time!”
“I can’t remember anybody organising it, but there was going to be a party and everybody brought out trestle tables or any old tables that they had. All the women baked. Everybody brought what they could – lemonade mostly – I mean there was very little alcohol if any. Alcohol was quite difficult to get hold of, so possibly there was some and I might not have known about it. But otherwise it was just great big tables full of food, balloons and paper hats, and anything you could get hold of. I think that everyone made their own decorations and we just had a marvellous time. We then dragged a piano out and played – everybody danced and it was glorious, it was gorgeous.
Betty, South Yorkshire
“There was streamers all over the place and we all had hats on – and oh the music, it’s a wonder we could hear anybody speak, the music was going all the time. Everybody was laughing and it was lovely. And then on the night I went to town was absolutely packed. You couldn’t put a needle between anybody on the High Street.”
“Piccadilly was already a seething mass of people. The hoarding around Eros was overcrowded with young people of both sexes, mostly from the Forces. About a third of the people were wearing paper-hats. People were everywhere – on shop-fronts, up lamp-standards, singing and shouting. At 2.20 a bus managed to get through Whitehall – “HITLER MISSED THIS BUS” was chalked across it – and soon afterwards, down at the jam-packed Parliament Square end, a 50-year-old man was overheard saying: “It was just like this after the last war and 12 months later we was standing in dole queues.” But after all the cries of “Shut up”, a middle-aged woman had for the moment, the final word: “Nobody’s going to make me miserable today. I’ve been waiting for it too long.”
“I was only five years of age at the time. I recall visiting Queen`s Gardens with my brother aged eight and my father. It was dark which made the firework display very impressive. I can always remember my father`s words to me at that time as I sat on his shoulders. He said, `You must always remember this day, the war has ended but it must never happen again`. I`ve never forgotten those words and being only five years old at the time, never forgotten my first fireworks display.”
Denis Price, Hull
“We were in Germany on VE Day. All the boys had been saving their booze up because they knew the end of the war was imminent. Unfortunately, on that particular day I was on duty, I think I was the only one in that camp who was sober. We heard the news on the radio. We had a tank radio, and it could pick up the BBC and we all celebrated. We built a massive bonfire in the evening, the boys were all drinking then, all the local booze that they’d acquired. I remember thinking: thank God it’s all over.”
Gordon Prime, Pembrokeshire, Awarded the Légion d’Honneur
“I was driving my lorry through the West End, and the noise was deafening with people cheering. All the traffic was at a crawling pace. Suddenly, a crowd of Yanks jumped on the van. I could hardly see through the windscreen. They were everywhere insisting I take them to Pont Street, which was off my round, but the only thing I could do was to take them. When I got there, they wanted me to join their party, but as I shouldn’t have been there, I refused. After work… I celebrated by going to Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square where there were thousands of people.”
F. M Cooper
“The evening celebrations were devoted to the adults and I remembered watching their antics with some amazement: ‘There was quite a gathering with a gramophone playing and dancing going on. A plump, elderly lady of staid and sober habits, whom I knew from church and was a little in awe of, had on a smart new dress for the occasion. I was so surprised to see her leading the line in the conga.”
Irene Bain Mitcham
“Mixing with the crowds on Lincoln High Street I saw a woman I knew vaguely, being pushed along by a railway man on one of the flat baggage trolleys; she appeared quite drunk and was waving a small Union Jack.”
“Mothers had been collecting packets of blancmange and jelly for weeks and saving up all the dried milk and dried egg powder that could be spared. We burned an effigy of Hitler in a torn wicker chair that came from our back garden”.