Today is VE day, 75 years since the acceptance of German surrender and the ending of the second world war in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The end of a nearly six year long emergency, alongside the continuing war with Japan.
Aunty remembers the bonfire at the end of her street. She was only five, born at the beginning of the war.
As a confirmed peacenik I have often steered away from this type of event but in this time of crisis I would like to say thanks to a few people dear to me. Most people didn’t want their schooling disrupted, career plans destroyed, to leave home and family, get on a troop ship, wade through water up to their necks holding rifles above their head, kill and be killed. No-one wanted to be left with life long scars, both mental and physical.
At home no-one wanted to wade through glowing rubble every morning and just be thankful that it wasn’t them, no-one wanted to sleep with their head outside the air raid shelter every night because they had asthma. Afterwards they spoke only of the positives: falling in love, flying in a plane, American soldiers dancing the jitterbug with their girlfriends (at what is now the Royal Opera House), unexpected meetings with family and friends.
So thank you, to my parents, both in the Royal Navy, to my parents-in-law in the Army and Air Force, to Mr Kuczyński in the Polish RAF, to Rita, my allotment neighbour, who came to England by Kindertransport and at the age of 14 was working in an aircraft factory. Thank you to Shari’s grandfather, who was at Monte Cassino, to Barrie’s father and to master gardener Mr Payne.
D-Day 1984 and at work in the park, the foreman was celebrating.
‘He reckons he was at D-Day’, said Mr Payne.
“Were you at D-Day Mr Payne?”
‘My dear, I was everywhere’ came the reply.Amanda