VE Day 75th Anniversary
When VE Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. Years of carnage and destruction had come to an end and millions of people took to the streets and pubs to celebrate peace, mourn their loved ones and to hope for the future, but not forgetting those still in conflict until 15th August when it was announced that Japan had surrendered unconditionally to the Allies, effectively ending World War II.
The 75th anniversary will provide our nation, and our friends around the world, with an opportunity to reflect on the enormous sacrifice, courage and determination of people from all walks of life who saw us through this dark and terrible period.
Originally we had planned to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War through displaying banners and posters, and playing sound clips and films in the Great Hall at Oakham Castle. Due to the current situation, this is no longer possible. However, the need to commemorate the summer of 1945, and to reflect on the experiences of those who were there, is as pressing as ever. We have therefore put together a selection of memories, tributes, stories and images to celebrate the arrival of peace after years of devastating war.
The Rutland Home Guard
This is a small film of Oakham and District “C” Company of the Rutland Home Guard in 1940/41, covering Oakham, Egleton, Burley, Braunston, Brooke, Manton, Lyndon and, later on, Langham. They are parading in front of their Commander – Colonel J W Ogilvy-Dalgleish who lived at Springfield House, Oakham.
The film above is shot outside Oakham Drill Hall. The fields beyond are where the cricket pitches and the Cricket Lawns estate now are – looking towards Brooke Hill, where the primary school is. Right at the end of the film is a short cut to other officers, after the parade, including Ogilvy-Dalgleish after the parade, wearing their side caps (as opposed to their tin helmets) and showing the characteristic Rutland Horseshoe Home Guard badge.
Cynthia Harris, 94, receives her war medal from Rutland county councillor Richard Foster (EMN-160129-150651001)
A 94-year-old woman from Rutland has finally been recognised for her service as an active member of the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War. Cynthia Harris was presented her medal by Rutland county councillor Richard Foster after some detective work by Jean Denyer, a Rutland Community Agent, who found out Cynthia had never received official recognition for serving her country.
Having always wanted to work on a farm, Cynthia had been eager to sign up to become one of 80,000 women across the country who helped run farms and provide food for the nation during the war in a move known as ‘Dig For Victory’.
This song has been specially written by Mumbo-Jumbo for the VE Day 75 Celebrations. The song celebrates the vital role of the Home front in bringing peace to the nation.
Performed by Mumbo-Jumbo featuring Edwina Hayes.
( Music: www.mumbo-jumbo.biz)
Land Army Memories...
'I met my husband whilst working on his farm and we were married in April 1945, ten days before the end of the war in Europe. I remember V.E. day well we had been working in one of the fields and when we came back to the village everyone was outside shouting that war was over. The next day all the villagers organised a party in the village hall with the children wearing fancy dress.'
Contribution by Mary Henson.
Stories from Rutland
Oakham Junior Training corps 1944- This is the Home Guard stand-down parade along Oakham High Street, with the dignitaries standing on the steps of the former Rutland County Cinema (opposite where Wilcos is now). The commanding officer is standing in the rain, in front of the steps. The column of men in the march past is some of the 800+ members of the Rutland Home Guard. (Image: https://www.rutlandhistory.org)
Unmentioned in dispatches
Some of them never come home to fanfares,
they dump their kitbags down at the door,
kiss their wives and let their children
wrestle them down to the kitchen floor,
switch the telly on, pour out a whiskey,
search for the local football score.
Some of them skip the quayside welcome,
dodge the bunting and cannonade,
make their landfall in silent harbours,
nod to the coastguard, but evade
the searchlight of public scrutiny
like those engaged in the smuggling trade.
Some of them land at lonely airfields
far removed from the celebration,
hang their flying gear in a locker,
cadge a lift to the railway station,
make for home and take for granted
the short-lived thanks of a grateful nation.
Some of them miss the royal salute,
the victory parade along the Mall,
the fly-past, the ships in formation passing
the cheering crowds on the harbour wall.
Remembered only by friends and relatives,
some of them never come home at all.
Poem by Peter Wyton
Peter Wyton is a 'poet of page and performance' who has published a number of books and who has appeared on BBC Radio. Peter Wyton served in the RAF for three decades and has published eight volumes of poetry. ‘Unmentioned in Dispatches’ has been chosen and would have been included at many of the VE Day 75 celebrations. #VEDay75.
CELEBRATE VE DAY 75
IN YOUR OWN HOME
In the VE Day celebration pack, you'll find everything you need to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day in your own home.
The EH pack includes a selection of tasty recipes, tips for dancing Lindy Hop style, a Spotify playlist and popular 1940s songs to sing with your family.
Click on the dancers to down load a VE day at home pack.
Memories of VE day
VE Day Memories – Ken Wilkinson:
Flying Officer Ken Wilkinson joined No 616 Squadron at Kirton-on-Lindsey in October 1940. He moved to No 19 Squadron at Fowlmere and in January 1941 became an instructor before becoming a gunnery instructor in 1942. Having served with No 234 Squadron based at Skeabrae he joined No 165 Squadron before returning to a series of Operational Training Units (OTUs) eventually ending up with 10 OTU at Abingdon where he was released from the RAF in November 1945.
Voices of War soundscape.
A curated compliation of interviews with those who remembered VE Day will be available on Imperial War Museum’s website for everyone across the UK, and beyond, to listen to at home from the morning of 8 May.