A day I’ll never forget Jean, 91
I joined up to the Women’s Royal Naval Service ay 18 because I was keen to help the war effort. I came back from abroad specifically to join up. I worked in combined operations and started off as a messenger then worked my way up. I really enjoyed my time there.
On VE Day I came into London with my husband and my five-week old son, who I carried in a carry cot. We walked to Buckingham Palace and stood outside. We spent the night there and saw Winston Churchill come out on to the balcony with the royal family. It was very exciting to see Buckingham Palace all lit up. We were so relieved that it was the end of the war – we stayed in London throughout the Blitz and it was very dangerous. VE Day was tremendous though and I can’t think of anything better than that night we stood outside the palace. It’s a day I’ll never forget.
We definitely had a party that night! Sydney, 85
I was evacuated to Essex during the war, but I ran away back to Fulham where my family lived. I then got sent to Devon, which was lovely. On VE Day I remember that we had a massive street party in Imperial Square. We never had any money, but we had food and ale that night laid out on lovely big tables and someone played the accordion. We definitely had a party that night!
Everyone was in the pub, it was great! Ronald, 86
War was terrible in London and I didn’t get evacuated – my mum wouldn’t have it! Dad worked for the fire service on Goldhawk Road and my mum made ammunitions at a factory in Acton, they put themselves in the war effort. I used to use a bomb shelter at my aunt’s house with all the other children. On VE Day we all had a great p*ss up! Everyone was in the pub, it was great! Just after that I went in to the army myself, but I’ll always remember VE Day.
We could hear cheering right across London Reginald, 84
I was evacuated twice during the war. In 1939 I was sent to King’s Lynn and I actually heard war declared by Chamberlain whilst stood in a doctor’s office. I then returned to Bethnal Green and was sent to Oxford a few days later. I had a great time there and used to help out the local blacksmith and farmers to keep busy. I then returned to Bethnal Green and saw there had been lots of bombing. Our home was struck twice during the war.
I set up my own allotment on a bomb site next to where we used to live. My mother didn’t know what to do with herself when I turned up with tomatoes, lettuces and potatoes to feed the family with!
A split second decision by my father saved my life. An air raid siren had gone off and we were walking to Bethnal Green tube to meet my mum who was already there. I wanted to run ahead, but my dad wouldn’t let me. We got right to the entrance when people came running out and it turns out that we had narrowly missed the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster where 173 people died as they got crushed flee from the station.
As for VE Day, I remember I made a bonfire at my allotment and my friends and I stayed up until 1am having fun - that was late for us back then. My mum and dad were in the pub and we could hear cheering right across London. It was a brilliant evening to celebrate the end of the war.