Memories of VE day from around the village

Gill Hogarth writes: 
Thank you to all those who took the time to write & send your memories – a fascinating slice of life from 75 years ago.  These will be posted on the Hardwick website on Monday along with the photos.  We will also be posting photos of Hardwick dressed in red, white & blue on VE day.  Thanks to all of you who have made an effort – maybe we can do it all again in August for VJDay if the social distancing rules allow.  Enjoy your day.

The WW2 memories of Janet Hares aged 90

During the war I lived on a farm at Pusey, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire) it was a very small village with no shop,pub or bus.  We all had identity cards but school children were able to have a disc with our i.d.number and name on it, we had to carry a gas mask everywhere and had a weekly practice at putting it on.
We had only one German bombing on our village, the bombs went both sides of the road leaving the village intact.
We had a field on the farm that was very flat that pilots of tiger moth planes used to practice landing and taking off. They were always catching the aircraft wheels on the fences, but went on to become good pilots.
The only time that I have had pebbles thrown at my bedroom window  at night was when a British airman parachuted out of a damaged plane returning to Abingdon from a bombing raid, he needed a telephone to phone his base to be collected, he refused to leave me his parachute so I could make my self a new dress.!!!
We had a Fleet Air Arm base on part of the farm and people from the village could go and watch films once a week in their barn.
Just before D-Day I remember piles of ammunition stacked by the roads and covered in sheets, we didn’t know what it was but quite soon they were moved.
German bombers often flew over the farm and everyone said they were going to bomb Coventry.
I made buttonholes and doilies from wool and sold them and also did household chores then spent the money to send food parcels to British prisoners of war via the Red Cross, the prisoners in Germany received theirs but the ones in Japan never did.
As I got older a lady from the WRVS got us to go to help as the wounded troops returned making tea and washing up, we only saw the walking wounded.
Pusey did not go mad when the war ended the single church bell was rung it was just a ding dong peal that made little impact. We all put up flags and had tea in the village hall,but there was still rationing so it was limited fare, I think the adults managed a bit more than tea!  The day ended with a huge bonfire with an effigy of Hitler burnt on top.
In Farringdon they had more celebrations a victory queen was being chosen for the day which everyone was very excited about until our headmistress announced that she expected none of her girls to be taking part.  The celebrations in Farringdon included dunking the blackout wardens in the horse trough in the square!
A school from London had been evacuated to the area but at the end of the war some loved the countryside so much that they never went back.

From Claire & Garth Bickerton 

Mum (Alma Steele) was 15 and remembers a big street party the length of ‘Broadway’ where she lived with her parents. Everyone was extremely relieved and happy.Some Polish soldiers joined the celebrations and started chatting mum up. At first she enjoyed the attention but as they became more animated she began to feel scared. so, at the earliest opportunity she left the party and missed the rest of the revelry.She also went along to the local cinema to watch how Londoners were celebrating. Her friend, Vera had a brother who was in the RAF. During VE Day her parents drove to see her and were accompanied by her brother who had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Two Bars for extreme bravery. They celebrated their reunion with a bottle of champagne, which was unfortunately flat!  Garth’s brother was five at the time. He remembers being taken to Aston Manor Park in Birmingham where artillery was being discharged. The noise was so loud that he couldn’t hear anything for some time afterwards. Not strictly relevant to VE Day but Garth was born on 30th April 1945 the day that Hitler committed suicide, so he may have been present at the Birmingham celebrations!

From Kathy Marsden

A lovely thing to be able to say but I am too young to remember VE Day! However, it was my Dad’s 34th Birthday and he and Mum wheeled my sister Ruth in her pram through the streets of York, where he was stationed. All Ruth can remember was people laughing and pointing at her as they had put a Kiss Me Quick hat on her. Most out of character for Mum and Dad but it was a special day. Enjoy the day. I will also remember my lovely Dad who would have been 109 on Friday.Kathy Marsden

From Stan Killick

My memory concerns VJ Day which I hope will be acceptable. Dad had still not been demobbed as he was on the Italian/Yugoslav border as we were a bit apprehensive of what Tito might get up to.Dads younger brother was home by then as he had been called up at the outset in 1939. So with  Mum the three of us went up to London by train to see the firework display. It was pretty impressive for a 5year old. To come back we got on a Southern Electric train at Victoria for Brighton. If present day commuters think trains are crowded they should have been on that one!.We were in the front compartment right by the drivers cab so we listened to a very heated conversation between the motorman and an official on the platform. The motor man inItially refused to take the train out as the load on board made it unsafe. After a lot of shouting the motorman was told that these people(us) had to be got home come what may no matter how low on its springs the train was. After the motorman was assured that no blame would be attached to him if any accident occurred we set off with much banging and thumping. By the time we reached our stop at Three Bridges enough passengers had got off at previous stations to ensure all was as it should be.


In 1945 at the end of the War, my memories of bonfires on bombed out housing  sites which surrounded where we lived in Kingsbury N W 9, are of people gathering to chat and the feeling of reliefthat the war in Europe was over at last.  Most of my young schooldays were spent through the war years. It was such a different world then, my parents both worked in a Coach builders right next to Hammersmith Bridge in London, in our school holidays we would go to work with them, most factories had to produce arms to help with the war effort, my Dad was the Manager and the workforce had to make Booby Traps which as children, we thought was great.  My memories of the (BBC Music while you work) every day, maybe twice a day to keep the workers happy, we were having regular air raids whilst at school and being sent home which in my case to stay with a neighbour, we actually spent a night in the school shelters, though one night was enough due to the floods after the rain being about a foot high. Unfortunately, my Dad died a week before VE Day, he suffered with Cancer so the following week the celebration was with mixed feelings as he would have liked to know the war was over.  I remember everyone was happy and feeling free around the bonfires, I can’t remember any music because it was a spontaneous event as we all congregated outside, lots of chatting and laughter after the long years of blackouts, doodle bugs and diving under the large table with posts supporting the ceiling in the dining room which my Dad made as our shelter.  We had been evacuated twice in 1943, my Mum used to visit us every week end as we missed her so much, it was decided that if it was to be, we would all go together, so we came back to Kingsbury and happily we survived. NB Photo to follow on website

Lilian Ferguson’s VE Day Adventure

On VE Day I travelled to London with 2 friends arriving at Paddington Station about 11am.  We made our way with the crowds to Trafalgar Square and on down the Mall to Buckingham Palace.  Everywhere you looked people were smiling, laughing, cheering and sharing their food and drink with anyone who didn’t have any.  There was a great feeling of joy and happiness. The Royal family came onto the balcony many times and once with Churchill, who said to the crowd THIS IS YOUR VICTORY, the crowd replied NO IT IS YOURS. Churchill was THE MAN OF THE DAY.  From there we made our way back to Trafalgar Square.  Once there we found a café with a Victory menu, where we brought Victory mugs (hastily produced) and danced in the Square –  there was a wonderful atmosphere!  In the evening we went to the Hammersmith Palais de Dance, where we danced the night away to the music of Joe Loss and his Big Band and Oscar Rabin with his Romany Band.  All members of the different forces were there and the yanks who were celebrating going home.  I can’t remember how we got how but it was A TRULY MEMORABLE DAY! NB Lilian will be 94 on Tuesday!

Jackie Brett’s Family Memories of VE Day

My grandfather, who was a sergeant in the first world war, was too old to volunteer for the second world war, but was in the home guard and travelled to London from Birmingham to help during the Blitz. He and his wife, my grandmother, are in the first photo – my grandmother is in the front row wearing a floral dress (white hair). The second photo is of the street party for the children – also in Birmingham, in an area called ‘The Link’.  Both my grandfathers and many of my uncles were in the army. NB Photos to follow on website.

Memories of VE day in Blackpool from Brian Hogarth (born 1937)

Living in a seaside town during the war was a fairly easy ride, compared to  those in the cities . Blackpool was one of the places kids from those cities were  evacuated to.  Only one   bomb fell on  Blackpool during the  whole of WW2. A German plane returning from a raid on Liverpool got a bit lost, happened to have a spare one left over and dropped it on a row of  terraced houses in Seed Street, close to the railway station. It was September 1940 and  eight people were killed. I lived with my grandparents in a small two up, two down terraced house. It was rented and in common with most in those days, it had no  tv, phone , dishwasher , washing machine or fridge. Our main living area was a small kitchen diner about 15 X 9 feet and it was here I remember grandma receiving a telegram reporting her son, my uncle Edwin, was missing in action. He was 23 years old in the Lancashire Fusileers, and in the  North Africa campaigns. Happily, it was later confirmed he was alive and in hospital, having been shot by a German sniper. It appears he was shot in the groin, and if the wound had been a fraction in the wrong direction, he would have been singing with the  Luton Girls Choir. As it was he fully recovered and came home just before VE Day. I vaguely remember the celebrations, which for us was a street party in the little cul-de-sac where we lived. Everyone in the seventy or so houses turned out, which you would expect, it was free. When I say party, it was a fairly low key affair. They were a pretty staid lot, being mainly older people . It was organised by Mrs Dudley, who was the go to lady for everything. Whether it was a young mum going in to labour, or your late grandad needed laying out, Mrs Dudley was your woman, so it went without saying that when a street party needed organising there was only one person to turn to. There were long tables the length of the road, like the tines of a fork. I don’t recall any problems, everyone did as Mrs D said whether they liked it or not. I don’t know how it was financed. Most of the people in our neighbourhood were not that well off, mainly in rented accommodation. I suspect there was some sort of official money available, either from central or local government, but whatever, Mrs Dudley dealt with it. White Mothers Pride was slathered with margarine and a scraping of potted meat or salmon paste. In a nod to poshness, they were cut into triangles, but the crusts were left on to help ensure no one went home hungry, and that maximum use was made of available resources. I believe Mr Fletcher the local butcher donated the potted meat, “no more than 4 ounces I bet” commented my mate Ronnie Slack when he opened up his sandwich to reveal the meagre ration. Ronnie was older than me so able to make such comments, though even  he made sure Mrs D was out of earshot. There was also plenty of jelly and custard, both a bit on the watery side, but no blancmange, anything with blanc and mange in it’s name was far too continental for Radworth Crescent at that time. Not much booze was in evidence, for the kids, a watery black currant concoction was the only choice. Celebrations carried on well into the night with community singing, for which Mr Frankland the Provident cheque man played his accordion. The repertoire started with “Bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover”, through a selection of Gracie Fields favourites before degenerating into “My little stick of Blackpool rock”. I had already left well before that though to do my evening paper round, clean out grandad’s racing pigeons and take his ferrets for a walk. Then an early night ready for a 5 am start on my weekend job with the chimney sweep. By gum,  it were tuff in them days ! Brian HogarthBorn 1937

 From Sandy Creed

It was nice to read other peoples memories of VE day My grand father was in the first world war and was also in the second world war.  He signed up at the age of forty five for the second one he had a wife and five children he must have believed in it to have put himself forward. He came back and lived to be well over 80. My mum run the village shop at East Hanney and I do remember the ration books,  she also packed ammunition for the forces.  My father was in the Burma war so we have done our bit.

From Billie & Simon Russell

My Mum is 86 and comes from London. This is her father my Grandad. He worked in civil defence during the war. Pulling people out of the wreckage during the Blitz. If you see the roof of his vehicle it has stretchers . As you can see from the second photo they were used after the war as railings. It must have been strange for him to see them and a stark reminder of what he had witnessed. Mum has often said that whenever she hears an air raid warning on the tv from a film she’s filled with a feeling of dread. It’s remained with her all these years

One thought on “Memories of VE day from around the village

  1. To Mrs Janet Hares – my grandfather, Lennie Demain was one of the children that was evacuated from London to Pusey and who stayed on after the war. He went on to work as a groom and then head groom at Pusey House and stayed in Pusey for most of the rest of his life.

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