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Remembering VE Day

We asked our Church family members for their reflections on personal experiences of VE Day. Here's what they said...

Brian & Jean Hoggarth reflecting on VE Day said, “The thing that we remember most was the relief that the bombing had stopped.” Brian was 16 at the time and Jean 15, he had 2 sisters both in the ATS, also 2 brothers, 1 a pilot and the other a sergeant in the army (injured at Tobruk). He remembers the relief that they were all safe. Jean's father was an air raid warden in Hull and she remembers being evacuated because of the bombing.

Doris Stoner (who was connected to St Thomas’ Church, Gawber), is 98 and was in the ATS, staying in a requisitioned house in Yeadon on VE Day. When peace was declared, she went into Leeds to the NAFI club. There was a parade with bands and everyone joined in.

Betty Greaves (St Edwards Church) was at Ripon Teacher Training College on VE Day. This was a girls only college. Ripon was a garrison town and every evening the girls had a curfew after 8pm. The girls knew a boy who was at St John’s in York and they nipped over to celebrate there, but still had to get back to college for 8pm!

Dorothy Grimes was living in Middlesbrough. She recalls that everyone went to church. She had a brother who was in the navy on a destroyer which was sunk. He was injured and taken to North Africa, and later came home, healed. She also remembers that when the family had a meal, they would g=have what appeared to be butter on the table but was half butter, half margarine; only her and her mother knew which end was which!

Jean Brown celebrated in Bournemouth, where she was living at the time, by dancing round the square.

As a wide-eyed little boy aged five on VE Day, Peter Goodman’s most vivid recollection is of how the rather grey, cheerless street on the outskirts of Nottingham was miraculously transformed into an explosion of vivacious colour. He had never seen anything like it during the drab war years. Long trestle tables, groaning under the weight of a mountain of potted meat sandwiches, cream buns, jelly, blancmange and jugs of diluted orange squash, ran the length of the road, with clothes lines of red, white and blue bunting criss-crossing from one pavement to another. People he had previously only seen hurrying, seemingly bent and careworn, passed the front window and had become newly energised, dancing in the street, their worries suddenly lifted as hope returned. Peter wasn’t quite sure why all this was happening, but I does vaguely remember thinking that it was somehow linked to not having to go any more into the smelly but welcoming communal air raid shelter just across from our front door. He recalls his mum spraining her ankle and Mr Smedley, who owned the farm at the bottom of our street, carrying her back to their small but cosily secure "two up and two down" home. He can’t believe it was 75 years ago!

Brenda Limbert lived on Honeywell Street and remembers a street party with everyone chipping in and making a contribution.

Freda Wright was in a hostel in Lincolnshire, working for the Land Army. She remembers it being a very hot day. The girls had been at work all day and didn’t hear the news until the warden told them in the evening. They were so excited that they threw their plates with their dinner on out of the window. They then went all round the village shouting and screaming with excitement. Freda and her sister were presented with service medals after the war.

Mark O’Neill has written the following reflection about what VE Day means to him:

'My Grandad, served with the desert rats in North Africa, he was captured by Rommel's men and tortured. Upon the end of the war, he returned home but was not the same person, he had, what would now be described as PTSD, he passed away shortly before I joined up. His sacrifice and the sacrifice of millions of others, not just British but allied forces was not in vain. The bravery, comradery, teamwork and sheer determination kept them pushing to the very end, they all had the one unique thing, spirit and belief.

I went to a military school, come from a military background and joined up on 4th Mar 1991, serving 23 years; VE day represents everything that is great about the British Armed forces. For me, it is a time to reflect on the great sacrifice of those who went before me, and celebrate our freedom because of them. Also, to remember the good times and sad times, I've had, on numerous deployments in conflict zones during my service. I simply say thank you to all the great men and women, who died fighting to protect nations and communities from oppression and hatred. Most importantly it is time to remember my grandad and his sacrifice and say thank you.'

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