Remembering VE Day

peter and joyce 920


Peter Simmonds
My memory of VE day was not of a day of wild celebration, as at the time I was a seventeen year old apprentice engineer, working a six and a half day week at Grove Road Power Station in Marylebone in London (by the by being paid the princely sum of three old pennies per hour, plus about six pennies war bonus).

I would have been grateful for an extra day's rest from travelling to and from my home in Pinner, Middlesex – about twelve miles each way – come rain or shine, on an ancient sit up and beg bicycle made up from parts filched from our local rubbish dump.

My home was in a group of three isolated houses on the local council plant nursery, which had been turned over to food production during the
war, and where my father was the nursery foreman.

I would have had a meal with my parents, with possibly the added luxury of a chicken from next door's chicken run (it would have been a tough old bird way past its' laying days)!

We would have been happy in that we would not have had to worry any more about either the threat of bombing raids by the Luftwaffe on the local RAF airbase at Northholt, where there were Spitfire squadrons based, or the random and unpredictable V1 buzz-bombs and unpredictable V2 rockets (which you could not hear coming). We were also happy that the fear of further casualties inflicted on family members serving in the armed forces was gone. We did realise however that we would still have many years of austerity still to come.

These memories are still there, but here we are, 75 years on, probably facing an even greater challenge to our world and way of life because of Covid-19.

Joyce Simmonds
On VE day I was fourteen years old, still at college in the centre of Birmingham, where I spent a lot of my spare time running round the track at the Birchfield Harriers Athletics Centre.

On the day there were great celebrations in our street, after what seemed to me a long war spent waiting for the sirens to go off and running into the nearest air raid shelter, and waiting for our monthly sweet ration to become available (I believe it was about two hundred and fifty grams).

We had a street party with lots of bunting and decorations everywhere, tables down the centre of the road , and everyone chipping in with such food as they could manage, given the wartime rationing in force.

I also remembered the sad times, as I lost my twenty year old brother killed in service in 1943, but was relieved for my older brother who was serving in the army in Belgium at the time.

During the evening I slipped away and joined my friends from college - we went into Victoria Square in the centre of Birmingham, where we got very wet in the fountain in the centre of the square, along with lots of other people. All this came to an end when my dad found me and dragged me back home as I was not allowed to be out late at night!

These are my memories of that day. When I think back about it, and what has happened to me and mine since, I wonder how we managed to fit it all in!

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