Text and images are copyright. All rights reserved.
I was five years old at the end of World War Two and although I remember much of the war itself - see the menu on the left - I have no recollections at all of the euphoria that greeted its end. (Peace parties, which I do remember, came later.) Fortunately others have clearer recollections of the two specific days:
• VE Day marked Victory in Europe on 8 May 1945, after which Britain itself was no longer in danger - see the VE Day celebrations
• VJ Day marked Victory in Japan on 15 August 1945, the end of all hostilities.
I went to Buckingham Palace with my uncle, Jack Sharpe, to see the crowds of peoples dancing and singing in the streets, thanking God that our prayers had at last been answered.
We walked across the park to Wellington Barracks to see the Guards Chapel, out of respect for our uncle Alan who was killed in action in Italy. The chapel had been hit by a V2 rocket on a Sunday morning when it was full of people. Now it was just a pile of rubble.
We had lived in hope and fear, although not a religious family, when the bombs and doodlebugs were falling we held each other and said a silent prayer. Now it was all over, life was going it get better. We did not know at that time that Food Rationing would go on for another eight years or more.
We arrived at Southend later that day.
For once, people's faces were bright and gay.
Merriment showed and laughter abounded.
Out in the Thames victory sirens sounded.
Street lights came on for the first time in years.
As the need for blackout disappears.
That night we strolled along the prom.
The whole town turned out, a happy throng.
They danced in the streets to a lively band.
Some linking arms, others hand in hand.
Soldiers, sailors and airmen all joined in.
On everyone's face was a merry grin.
Relieved of the anguish of six years of war.
Two final blows put Japan on the floor.
Celebrations now over, though quite an affair.
There's work to be done, change is in the air.
extracted with permission from
an unpublished poem by Mike Swift