VE DAY AT HALTON
As a tribute to the 70th Anniversary of VE Day we can do no better than
reprint this excellent account of the day given by Jim Hughes 49th in the 1986
Winter edition of the Haltonian. ET
May 1985 was a time for remembrance as the 40th anniversary of VE Day was celebrated. At that time, members of the 49th Entry, with nine month’s service, were no longer “rooks” since the 50th were already in residence. Apart from 2 months evacuation to Cosford in 1944, we had been relatively unscathed by the war. USAAF bombers filled the skies by day, the RAF by night and now it looked as if their efforts had not been in vain.
By the end of April, it was obvious that the european war was coming to an end, though my clearest memory of that time was a fall of snow settling on the fruit blossom.With no radios allowed and daily papers hardly affordable on the five shillings (25p) a week, news of the outside world was largely by word of mouth.By teatime on Monday May 7th, rumours were running strong, but “bull night” had to come first and was actually finished before the news came through. Everybody rushed to the square where the pipes were soon blasting out the “Black Bear” – what else? The crowd of brats was soon joined by Airmen and WAAFs – unknown species in our area – and the jubilation lasted until nightfall.
Even the apprentices did not go to work the next day but, of course, we had to have a parade. Then we were given the rest of the day off. Most seemed to dash off to join the fun in London, but a few of us stayed behind. I remember having the princely sum of 4-5d (less than 2.5p) which hardly seemed enough for a celebration. It was a beautiful spring day and as we walked through the beech woods, bursting into new life, we, no doubt, thought that this was a good omen for lasting peace.
The end of the war had little effect on our everyday routine. Now the blackout was over we had to set to and scrape the black paint off the frosted glass windows in the blution, using our issue eating knives. Those who had so liberally slapped on the paint in 1939 must have felt their ears burning! Many of our instructors took off uniform and became plain Mr, and we suffered the disruption of thousands of airmen suddenly leaving the service. Having been caught unprepared for VE Day, we thought that VJ Day would be better organised. It was, the Japanese surrendered while we were on summer leave.
Jim Hughes 49th