Friday, 8 May 2015

VE Day

70 years ago today, the country went a little bit mad.  Or so I am told.  For people under the age of about 75 it's difficult, perhaps even impossible, to imagine what it must have been like.  The war against Germany had lasted six years and for most of that time, the whole of Great Britain - but especially the larger cities and ports - had been at risk of attack by bombers.  Elderly men, women and children were on the front line.  The overwhelming feeling must have been of relief, relief that expressed itself in tumultuous elation.

The Old Bat and I watched a very interesting programme on the television on Monday in which various celebrities described their memories of VE Day.  It was as we were watching that a fragment of memory surfaced in my consciousness, a memory of a party in a school playground.  It was Byron Road boys school, which was just down the road from my grandparents' house, and I can't think of any other occasion that I might have been at a party there.  But on VE Day I was still a few days shy of my third birthday so the memory may well be false.

Of course, although many people celebrated that day, many more were worried about their menfolk still fighting in the Far East and it was to be nearly four months before the war against Japan would end.  And the relief felt by many was tinged with sorrow for those who had been killed, whether fighting or as a result of bombing.

I think many people were surprised that things didn't get back to normal for a very long time.  Indeed, the food ration was reduced once again AFTER the end of the war.  Tea remained rationed until 1952, sugar until 1953, and meat only came off the coupon in 1954!

It was during those immediately post-war years that I was taken into hospital to have my tonsils removed.  (This was in the vain hope that it would ease my asthma, which demonstrates how far medical science has progressed since then!)  I and another rather older boy were in a ward of old men.  At least, they seemed to us to be old.  One of the nurses gave the other boy and I an orange each.  That was the first orange I had ever seen but the other boy soon showed me how to bite through the peel and suck out the sweet goodness within.  As she was going off shift, the nurse came by to take back her oranges only to be horrified to find that we had eaten them!  She had thought we wouldn't know what to do with them and would simply play with them as if they were balls!

For any who need a translation, VE Day = Victory in Europe Day.

1 comment:

#1Nana said...

My family immigrated to the US in 1955. I still have my ration book from England...tucked into my baby book as a memento of my childhood.