VE Day: A time to remember, celebrate and commemorate 75 years on ...

 

Today is an extremely special day in Modern History, as we remember, celebrate and commemorate 75 years since the end of the 2nd World War. At 3pm on the 8th May 1945, the Prime Minister at the time Winston Churchill made the historic announcement on the radio that the war in Europe had come to an end, following Germany's surrender the day before.


No matter what your age, we all had loved ones who did their bit to give us the freedom that we are able to experience today. Fortunately for me, I was lucky enough to understand first-hand from my grandparents what they had to endure during the Second World War. I know many have not had this opportunity, with loved ones including mother’s, father’s, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles all lost during the six-year battle.  Many from Gen Alpha and Gen Z, also never got the chance to meet or were just too young to hear and remember the stories of their great grandparents.

From the need to head to air raid shelters in the middle of the night due to the constant threat of being under attack, the need to ration food supplies for all of those who stayed at home to the separation from loved ones for months on end, with only the occasional letter home, these were unprecedented times. We are getting a ‘slight’ glimpse of what this separation looks like during lockdown today, however with the modern-day technology we have at our disposal today, we are fortunate to be able to have frequent contact with our loved ones.


The experiences during this time were not all bad … as a teenager my grandad on my mother’s side use to reminisce about his role in flying the Lancaster Bombers. The Lancaster was a British four-engine strategic bomber, which would typically fly with six other crew. He took great pride in his role in the war effort and told his stories with passion. Even to the day that he died, he still wished that he could have one last fly. I would have loved to have been able to turn back time and make this happen for him.


My late grandad on my father’s side never liked to talk about the war as much, so we never probed him. It was only when he died just over 2 years ago, that I was lucky enough to come across the memoirs that he had handwritten about the war. His account was extremely detailed, with specific dates and locations that were his key moments of the war effort, including close to death experiences, with the bombing of the Lancastria vessel on the 17th June 1940, 10 miles off the port of St Nazaire in France, where an estimated 5,000 people died. When I researched the tragic event online, his account was word for word even though he was writing them 65+ years after the event and he was approaching 100 years of age. As I read on, there were other surprises in the memoir too, including a rarely seen romantic side of my Grandad, with an impromptu proposal to my nanna, outside of the H.Samuel in Hull City Centre. This was only 5 days after his near death and what must have been a life changing experience. They also celebrated the birth of their first child (my father), just over a year before the end of the war.


With lockdown in full swing, it is not the planned day the nation was expecting, with many events having to be cancelled. However, as always we will make the most of the day, Here are some things you can add to your plan for today:


  • Remember the 2 minutes at 11am - think about the freedom and liberty which everyone who contributed to the World War 2 effort has given us. This time should also be used to reflect on the battle that we are facing today.


  • Share what you know with your children - my son and daughter only had the chance to meet one out of my four grandparents. Writing this has made me realise that I should make them more aware of what their grandparents and the rest of the nation gave up for us.


  • Celebrate the day with a party - this week as we have taken our daily exercise, we have noticed the British Flag and bunting has joined the Covid-19 Rainbow, with signs of social distanced street parties being planned. Join in the fun or have your own party, listening to the Vera Lynn classic ‘We’ll meet again playing’ in the background.


  • Watch a war film - One to watch this evening is Dad's Army, the remake of the 1960's / 1970's classic comedy series (some of the scenes to the film where shot in my home town of Beverley). I loved to watch the original episodes when I was younger. The classic line 'Don't tell him your name Pike', delivered by Captain Manwaring from 'The Deadly Attachment' episode, is firmly etched into my memory. 


    • The Queen's address to the nation - make sure you find the time to hear the Queen address the nation at 9pm on BBC One. Her recent Covid-19 address was extremely moving. As a war child, you can expect this to be even more so this evening.


    So, forget traditional home schooling and working for today and take time out to remember how lucky we are, even in our own modern and challenging times.


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