OT VE Day Remembered

vee_new

The various commemorations planned to mark the end of the War in Europe have been cancelled; street parties, concerts, church services, speeches now taking place 'on line' or not at all.

Do any RP'ers remember VE (or VJ) day? Did your parents/grandparents ever talk about this time to you? Was there dancing in the streets? Were they at Time Square or Trafalgar Square high-jinks?

At only a few months old I obviously remember nothing about it but know my father, wounded in the North Africa campaign, having gone out as A1 and returned C3 fitness . . . was recuperating at the huge army camp in Catterick Yorkshire. He was soon out in Northern Germany with the Army of Occupation.

I asked my Mother how she 'celebrated' but she claimed to be encumbered by Baby Vee and her aging and 'useless' F-in-Law and held-back by domesticity which she always resented.

All my male relatives were in the Army/Air Force/Navy and my only Uncle was a POW under the Japanese in the Philippines.

DH has photos of him in a pram at a street party, but cannot remember it! His Aunt had joined the women's Air Force (WAAF) and as she was musical was in their military band and played at the march-past in Berlin where they were spat on by the Germans.

Any memories, even second-hand that you are able to share?



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yoyobon_gw

An older friend of mine who grew up in Scranton PA and said that day her mother and aunts went into the streets and everyone was dancing and celebrating. My friend said she'd always remember the joy everyone expressed.

Then , of course, there is the iconic photos from Times Square in NYC with mobs of people delirious with joy.

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carolyn_ky

I was 8 at the time of VE day and 9 by the time the war was over. I remember hearing on the radio about Japan surrendering and going out where she was working in the garden to tell my mother that the War was over. She didn't seem very excited, and it was some years before I realized that it was up in the day when I heard the news and she had known it already. My dad was drafted in early 1944 when they must have been scraping the bottom of the barrel because he had an enlarged heart and four children, the youngest of whom was six weeks old. He received a medical discharge several months later and never left the U.S.

We lived in the deep country, so there were no celebration parties. My uncles all came home unharmed, and my most vivid memory is of an uncle by marriage who was in the Marines fighting in the Pacific. When he got home, his little three-year-old son still had a head full of all his baby curls. He took him to the barber shop the next day and got him a boy haircut and my aunt cried, but he had brought her a pretty curl as a keepsake. None of my uncles ever talked about their war experiences.

I watched a TV program earlier this week called The Queen at War about Princess Elizabeth.

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carolyn_ky

I meant to say that I remember my grandmother, who had four sons and a son-in-law in service, saying after VJ Day, "Now I can sleep tonight." Someone had once asked her how she stood the daily worry and strain, and she said she just worked all the time.

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annpanagain

I remember that day very well. We were at the postbox when someone told us, so my mother was probably sending my father a letter to where he was stationed in Persia.

It was just before my birthday, I was born on 12th May 1937, which was Coronation Day for George VI and we later had a street party.

My father was demobbed later but had little to tell. He had been with the Army but as he was almost blind in one eye, had not been near the actual fighting. His company had apparently been joined with the US Army and liaised with Sheiks to get workmen to help build a camp.

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kathy_t

My parents talked a lot about world WWII, but I regret to say I never asked them about VE Day. They were still teenagers and had not yet met, but my father enlisted in the Navy at age 17 which was permitted with his mother's signature. So we was officially a WWII vet, but just barely.

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vee_new

And today, 9th May the Channel Islands gained their freedom from Germany. I don't think the people's experience of their time under Nazi control was quite as described in that Potato Peel Pie book.

Annpan I don't think much as been written about the war in what was then Persia.

Have you read Joyce Grenfell's The Time of My Life? She describes her time entertaining the troops out there.

For those who are unfamiliar with JG she was a hugely popular actress/monologue performer sounding very English but, in fact, of mostly American background. Her mother was one of the famous Langhorne sisters, one of her aunts was the original 'Gibson Girl' and another Nancy Astor, married to Waldorf Astor an important society hostess and the first woman to take her seat in parliament.

Joyce always seemed to be a 'jolly good sport' as we say!


Joyce Grenfell Monologue




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Rosefolly

My parents talked about life during WWII, especially my mother, but not so much about VE Day. My father would have been in the Army Air Force, but still in training. He never saw combat (for which I am grateful) but served in the army of occupation in Japan. While there he fell in love with that country.

My mother was two years younger than he was, and she would still have been a teenager in high school. The stories I heard were mostly about rationing and shortages, which I believe were not as severe in the United States as they were in England, and ended sooner as well.

I've been thinking about my mother a lot today, this being Mothers Day. I wish she had had an easier life.

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annpanagain

One thing I remember about the end of UK rationing was that the local sweet (candy) shop had to restrict the sales to regular customers only as moneyed people came in from all over and stripped the shelves bare!

Much the same thing happened recently in the Covid 19 panic buying.

Human greed never changes...

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vee_new

annpan, when rationing finally ended (1954?) I remember the small ha'penny bars of Cadbury's chocolate went up to a penny! I don't know about 'moneyed people' buying up all the stock . . . as kids we only got thruppence a week pocket money . . . but I'm sure even poorer folk were happy to indulge themselves and their children. We see this today in eg's of the lower socio-economic* groups feeding their families on take-outs, junk food and fizzy drinks. Probably the same in the US and Aus.

* I don't think we are meant to refer to groups of people as 'poor' anymore in the UK! .

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vee_new

Rosefolly, one of my US cousin's father was an army Dr and while not seeing active service was training up medics in the US to join MASH units overseas. He later was in the army of occupation in Japan and then Germany.

On this final posting he had a sudden heart attack and could not be saved. He had just been promoted to Colonel, but because the army had not quite completed the paper work his widow was not allowed to collect the higher-rate pension! She often spoke of the difficulty of getting all their possessions plus two small children back to the US and having to move in with the in-laws as they hadn't a home of their own.

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Rosefolly

Vee, that is a sad story. Sometimes we forget that it isn't only the people wounded and killed who suffer in wartime. It does seem that the army was unnecessarily stingy. I hope your cousin's wife's life improved over time.

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vee_new

Rosefolly, the wife (actually my Mother's cousin) brought up her children in Norfolk VA with the in-laws but found herself looking after the M-in-L who had become a 'vegetable' (I know it is not a nice expression) and was hospitalized for years which took ALL the family money. In desperation this cousin managed to organise a home-care nurse plus all the necessary equipment to look after the old lady at home. On the night before she was due to leave the hospital there was a phone call saying she had just died. The family always believed the hosp. had turned off all the switches keeping her alive, as their source of revenue was about to depart.

I have no idea if this could be true but it must have been a traumatic time for the family. I must say this cousin was certainly feisty and we still keep in contact with her daughter who visits every couple of years.

She is really our last link with the US as all my VA grandfather's siblings are long gone and despite his coming from a family of eight there are but few descendant.

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annpanagain

Not necessarily the hospital's fault. My father had to be moved from a Nursing Home which was closing down and died in the first night. There is a sense of loss when you are moved. I had to change to another place in my Retirement Village against my wish and lost weight and shed some hair during the waiting period.

This was in spite of the management bending over backwards to make the new place comfortable for me. I just didn't like the uprooting!

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vee_new

Annpan, I think in my eg above ^^^ the family felt the loss of the money to the hospital was the driving factor. It is too easy for us to forget that in the US patients have to pay in one way or another for all their care, which thank the Lord, especially in these harrowing times, is not the case elsewhere.

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annpanagain

That is a bad situation indeed. I have heard of Granny-dumping in the US by families but not by a hospital's deliberate neglect.

I am so lucky not to have to worry about getting old and indigent!

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