VE Day in Woking 1945

IT WAS a time of celebration 75 years ago as the Second World War in Europe came to an end.

On Monday 7 May 1945, the German Supreme Command surrendered unconditionally, with the news broadcast on the wireless to Britons at lunchtime. The government also announced the next two days were to be national holidays.

HAVING A PARTY: Celebrating the end of war in Europe in Courtenay Road, Woking

Tuesday 8 May was VE Day and throughout the length of the country people took to the streets to celebrate, while homes and businesses were awash with red, white and blue decorations fluttering in the damp air.

The Woking area celebrated like every other village, town and city in Britain. Reports of the parties that took place either on VE Day or the days soon after were reported in the News & Mail in its edition of 18 May.

At the Walton Road Mission Hall, 68 children sat down to a tea provided by residents. It was reported: “The children were afterwards entertained on the piano by Mrs Ugle, and they had singing and games. Six children gave a play, The Woodcutter. A piano accordion was played by Mrs Stimpson.”

Under the heading “Maybury’s fine effort”, it was noted: “A neighbourly celebration was held by the adjoining Arnold and Eve Roads, who introduced the spirit of ‘victory’ by commencing with a tea for the children.” It added that more than 90 youngsters “sat down to a wonderful spread”, and races were run on the waste ground behind the houses.

The report from Westfield stated: “Celebrations started again early Wednesday, when the parents of the 44 houses arranged a bumper treat for the children. It looked like a peacetime feast, with jellies, blancmanges, iced cake and everything a child could wish for…. Every child was given a packet of sweets and a lucky ticket for five shillings was won by Brian Blay.”

GATECRASHERS: Canadian soldiers joined in the fun in Stanley Road, Woking, but no one minded

About 130 children sat down to tea in Gloster Road, Old Woking, including some from the High Street. A Mr Daborn entertained the children dressed as Charlie Chaplin. Each child received ice cream, an orange, sweets and a small gift.

A joint party for Old Woking’s Coniston, Fairfax and Selwood Roads was attended by 180 children. The report said: “Plenty of good things were provided for the tea, and afterwards there were pony rides for the children, sports, a baby show and dancing.”

While in Granville Road: “There was tea after a few words of thanksgiving and a chorus of the national anthem. The most amusing event was the bun-eating race for fathers.”

It was the turn of the adults to have their fun during the evenings and into the night. In Westfield, on the evening of 7 May, there was “community singing on the common until midnight”. And on VE Day night a huge bonfire was lit with an effigy of Hitler burnt on a scaffold, with “dancing, games and singing led by a band on Westfield Way until the early hours of the morning”.

In Gloster Road, dancing commenced at 9.15pm, with “spot and novelty dances”. Later the crowd stood in silence for one minute in memory of those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

The celebrations in Arnold and Eve Roads also continued with a bonfire being lit with an effigy of Hitler. The report added: “A tribute to this was made by a passing RAF pilot of a Lancaster, who on sighting the flames, dipped his wings in salute, banked steeply and roared over the blaze as if to drive away the spirit of evil that it represented. Dancing followed until 1pm.”

It was not until August 1945 that peace truly came, when Japan surrendered to the Allies.

If  you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call David Rose on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: davidrosemedia@gmail.com

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