VE Day Newspaper Image Source Daily Mirror 09 May 1945.
On the 8th May 2015 I attended the 70th Anniversary of VE Day at the Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne. Many attended and the Central Band of the Royal Australian Air Force provided many items of music familiar to us all. The Governor of the Shrine, Squadron Leader Ron Ledingham, RAAF Retired, was Master of Ceremonies. Our guest speaker for the day was Wing Commander Peter Isaacson AM DFC AFC DFM. Before he gave his most moving address, the Governor reminded us that Peter had piloted one of the famous Lancasters of Bomber Command back to Australia soon after hostilities had ceased. Daringly, he flew the huge aircraft with great skill under Sydney Harbour Bridge before bringing it into land on Australian soil.
Since the War, he had kept in touch with members of his crew who originally came from diverse professions and occupations that included a lawyer, a mechanic, a university student, a farmer, an artisan (carpenter) and a publisher. They were also from different religions: Catholic, Church of England, Methodist, Agnostic and himself - Jewish. Sadly, the rest of his crew had passed away in recent years. He paid tribute to all those who had courageously fought throughout WWII and that this day of Commemoration was, once again, a time to remember all those who had paid the supreme sacrifice.
During the Commemorative Service, especially when the Last Post and Reveille were played and the Minute's Silence was observed, many thoughts flashed through my mind as I well remembered VE Day - Tuesday 8th May 1945 when I was ten-years-old. We had come out of school at 4 pm and when I nearly reached my home in Epsom, three boys of about my age came towards me and told me that the War was over! I really did not know whether to believe them or not. Within a few minutes I arrived home where mother, who was ironing clothes on the kitchen table, told me that it was true. She had heard it announced on the wireless at 3 pm by our Prime Minister - Winston Churchill. The good news was such a relief after we had endured the War for five and a half years.
At Prayers the following morning, Mr 'Pip' Pledger, Headmaster, read out the names of all the Ewellians who had lost their lives in the Second World War. Some years later, those names were recorded on a Memorial plaque which was erected above the Tudor fireplace in the Reception Hall at Ewell Castle. We shall remember them.
I recall also that it was quickly spread around by word of mouth, that there was to be a special Thanksgiving Service at St Barnabas Church, Epsom two days later. The Church was packed and one could sense the huge feeling of gratification and thankfulness within the whole congregation. That great feeling was witnessed by tens of thousands throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.