Recollections of VE Day: how to commemorate in lockdown
During this current lockdown the whole village are living through a unique moment in the history of the village. Newtongrange Community Council hope to print journals for the community to put down in writing their thoughts and experiences of living through these uncertain times and we are keen to hear recollections of VE Day.
Many people in the news, papers and television have made comparisons between COVID19 and the sense of community resilience displayed in village life during WW2.
Christine Grieve kindly shared her memories on the NCC facebook page after my last website/facebook post regarding the VE Day Celebration in the village on Wednesday 9th of May 1945, please, please if you have any recollections of the celebration please get in touch. Christine had no photographs “but I can remember it being very cold and windy since we children had a special holiday off school and tried to keep warm in the rockery in the park- but in the evening my neighbours in St David’s had built a giant bonfire in an empty place next to the church- just where the library is now because they had been collecting wood for it all. When it was ready complete with a figure of Hitler dresses in some pit clothes, the fire was finally lit and every one who was able to do so came out and clapped and cheered especially as we watched the figure burning up! Then some one started playing the accordion and lots of adults started to dance Scottish reels! It was truly a night to remember!”.
Christine later posted “I have waited with anticipation for some one else to tell you of their memories of VE Day in Nitten because of my special friend at the time. She was the only evacuee that Nitten ever had and she had come up here from the East end of London to get away from the doodlebugs which were making her very ill will nerves. That VE day she was so excited as she would now be able to return to her family in London since old “Winnie” had said the “Jerries” were beaten!! I was a bit down in the dumps so my mother took me out to see the bonfire to cheer me up I was so amazed at the height and the heat of the fire- sparks were flying everywhere but no one seemed to bother in the flickering light- remember no street lights as it was still war time.!! Maybe the folk were all so happy and even some of them a wee bit intoxicated since all the men were beaming delightedly”.
How many others have childhood memories or even photographs of the two day holiday in the village?
Winston Churchill announced the end of the War in Europe at 3pm on the 8th May 1945. Churchill said “we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead”.
I live in St David’s, where the bonfire was back in May 1945 and know the library area well. Perhaps you can join me at 3pm that every one who is able to do so can come out their door and clap and cheer in respect and celebrate the whole community effort?
According to the Dalkeith Advertiser for Thursday 10th of May 1945 there was a film called ‘Rainbow over the river‘ showing at the Newtongrange Picture Palace. Once again it reminds me of Christine’s friend from wartime and the rainbows on our windows painted by children of our age during these strange times.