Published Thursday, 7th May 2020
Friday marks 75 years since Victory in Europe, when World War Two came to an end on the continent.
Though fighting would continue until August in the Pacific, VE Day marks the Allies’ acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
The country and its people had suffered, at home and abroad, for six years. Sutton was no different. Being a London borough and located a stone’s throw from Croydon Aerodrome, Sutton endured its share of bombing damage as a result of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain.
It’s important that we recognise VE Day, the first time the continent could look with real hope towards the future since the end of the 1930s, even more so during the current situation. It’s also important we recognise the sacrifices made by our service people from all wars since and the efforts of those going above and beyond in these difficult times now.
We would encourage all residents to recognise today’s Two Minute Silence at 11am and also to raise a glass (of a drink of your choosing) with us at 3pm to Toast to the Nation’s Heroes. Please share any photos of you toasting or of your house decorated in red, white and blue with us on social media using the hashtag #VEDay75.
To those who gave so much, we thank you.
Councillor Williams, Armed Forces Covenant Lead Member, said: “It is particularly important, as we continue in our battle against COVID-19, that we commemorate 75 years since Victory in Europe was assured. The end of conflict on the continent gave us the opportunity to look forward, to rebuild and to heal.
“We will be celebrating digitally this year; with video, archive imagery and reminiscences from residents who experienced VE Day in the borough on our website and social media channels. I hope this will help to give younger residents a better understanding of what life in Sutton was like back then. I would welcome your participation, encouraging those with a story to tell to share it with us on social media.
“We will all, in our own way, respect the Two Minute Silence at 11am today. It’s a chance to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who got us to that momentous day. We are forever grateful to those who gave so much to protect us and to all those who have continued to do so, including those on the frontlines of the situation we find ourselves in currently.”
The Locals: Diaries project
Journalling was an important outlet for many during the Second World War. As much for the wellbeing of the writer as for the importance of keeping a record of events and the national mood. Sutton Cultural services are encouraging residents to keep a diary during the ongoing COVID-19 situation as part of The Locals: Diaries project. These diaries will be an important historical record of what life was like during these unprecedented times.
Reminiscences from ‘The Home Front Recalled’
These reminiscences were collected by Sutton Libraries and Heritage Service as part of the Lottery Funded ‘The Home Front Recalled' project, which is available for reference in Sutton Archives and Local Studies.
Joan Cooper: "I remember the VE party. [It was] great because the people who owned the Harrow pub - Reg Hampton and his wife Squirrel - lived opposite us. He had a drum kit and he brought that out and someone wheeled a piano outside and we all had tea. [It was] quite plain, bread and margarine, probably not butter, you know. We had a great time with games, bobbing apples and dancing. Quite a few people, including my father, rigged up ‘V’ for Victory lights outside the house.
Ian Smith: “We had a small street party. I remember a string of white lights being strung up in a tree opposite, in front of no. 8 the house that had been the ARP post at the beginning of the war. I believe we had jellies and cucumber sandwiches and bridge rolls. A loudspeaker fed by a gramophone hitched up in a tree played records - nothing jazzy, just a gentle foxtrot or two. Soon though it began to drizzle turning to heavy rain forcing everybody indoors and the party to be abandoned.”
Thelma Cranford: “On VE Day I was working in a City bank and although a public holiday was declared it was not strictly a bank holiday, so I travelled to work. The City of London was so quiet that the juniors were sent home and I remember waving from the train to wounded soldiers at Dulwich Hospital near the railway line. We youngsters had to train the men returning from the war in the use of newly introduced calculating machines.
“I remember smelling the first oranges for years when a boat docked near London Bridge and a case opened and the dockers threw them up to the City workers… I didn’t get one!”
Jill Murch (née Mayersbach): “VE Day saw huge bonfires in celebration. We were finally reunited with our parents in Tanfield Road - but we were staying with a neighbour until our poor old home was rebuilt and we picked up the pieces. We carried on with rationing for more than six or seven years, but we survived and I am sure we gained a terrific resilience and acceptance of life, never asking for more than we had.”