Indiscriminately kissing soldiers in the streets, shooting chimney pots off the top of German houses and getting very drunk are just some of the memories people have shared about VE Day in 1945.
Those stories and others have helped form a wider picture of the jubilation millions of people felt as peace descended upon Europe for the first time in six years in May 1945.
The tales shared included the likes of Marie Scott, 93, who spoke during the coronavirus lockdown in an interview via online video chat service Zoom, about the terror she experienced first hand in the bombings of the Blitz and of how on VE Day, so many “indiscriminate” kisses were given out to soldiers on the streets of London.
Other stories came from people like Alec Borrie, 95, who at the time was back in England recovering from injuries sustained while fighting in Germany. He said that VE Day could be summed up with two words:
In fact, there was a common theme of celebratory drinking throughout the majority of the stories we received, which could perhaps make some wonder about the size of the country’s hangover on the day after VE Day in 1945.
Many thanks to those people who have shared their memories, pictures or stories.
There is still time to join in by sharing yours or you family's memories - by sending an email to [email protected], or by posting on our social channels.
Marie Scott, Légion d'honneur
Marie told how she was 13 when the war broke out in 1939. This hurried the end of her schooling and at 14 she left education, eventually getting a job at the General Post Office, in what was at the time a prestigious role as a Switchboard Operator.
As the war continued she signed up to the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) which, as D-Day approached, placed her in a crucial role as part of the Allied invasion of Europe.
Marie said: “We were the communications centre for D-Day, really. All our work was geared towards D-Day. The main switchboard had 9 operators, so it was quite a large ward, and was continuously busy for 24 hours.”
Marie also described how it felt hearing all the action over the VHF radio, from the beaches in Normandy.
“Every time they lifted their little leaver to respond, you could hear gunfire, bombs, men shouting; the mayhem of war. It frightened me, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and suddenly you realise this is a war, men are dying there.
“I matured on that day. You grow up when you come face-to-face with the reality of war.”
Marie described how she celebrated VE Day in London with her friend, including how there were many “indiscriminate kisses” handed out on the day.
But, not everything went quite to plan for Marie that day in London.
“You could never replicate the feeling of excitement and euphoria the people around you had. There was lots of indiscriminate kissing and hugging.
“But as we started down The Mall to go towards the palace, the crowds became monstrous, enormous, and there was such pressure there were surges, that my friend and myself, we got a bit alarmed and we decided no, we weren’t going to the palace, we’d try and get out of it somehow. So, we never did see them come onto the balcony, I’m afraid.”
For her vital role on D-Day passing coded messages to the landing troops at Normandy, in 2019 Marie was awarded France’s highest honour, the Légion d'honneur.
Michelle Morris told about the memories her father, Raymond, which he had passed on to her before his death in 2003.
VE Day for Raymond had coincided with his 9th birthday, and the youngster thought that the big street party held where he lived in Nottingham was all for him in celebration of his birthday.
Michelle said: “My dad used to tell us about the "big street party just for me for my birthday and there was so much food and people were celebrating my birthday." He hadn't realised at nine years old the significance of the Victory in Europe day street party in Nottingham.”
Michelle and her family had planned to attend the VE Day 75 concert at the Albert Hall in celebration of her late father but will instead remember him by holding a socially-distant street party in her front garden.
Michelle said: “Our village is organising a sort of virtual community street party for the afternoon of Friday May 8, to celebrate the anniversary and to bring people together in a way that people could 75 years ago.”
Gillian got in touch to say she was nine years old when VE Day happened and at that time, she was living in Sheffield.
During the war she remembered a school friend’s house being bombed which tragically resulted in the friend and her family being killed. Gillian took money into school to put towards flowers for the funeral.
Gillian recalled: “One of my memories is carrying out a gas mask drill at school, which of course messed up my hair terribly … this was followed by the school photographer coming to take our pictures, which I still have to this day.”
On VE Day, Gillian and her family were not able to hold a street party because there were trams, busses and even tanks using the road. But that did not stop her and her neighbours putting up Union Flags on the front of their houses.
“The houses in our road all had Union Jacks outside. My family had a very tatty flag which had been used for the 1918 celebration. Opposite our house was a Chinese laundry and I remember the anticipation of seeing which flag they would hang out. It was a Union Jack!
“I still have my certificate from King George VI dated the following year, June 8, 1946, which was given to all school children. I carried it home so carefully from school. It was rolled up and tied with a red ribbon.”
Alec Borrie was 19 when the invasion of Normandy got underway in June 1944. He was a member of elite 1 SAS. In fact, Alec was the youngest member of the SAS in World War Two and carried out a number of highly covert operations behind the enemy lines, against Hitler’s forces.
But on VE Day, Alec was in fact back in England where he was recovering from injuries he had sustained in Germany.
Alec said: “I ran over a mine and was knocked about a bit in Germany. There were three of us on the jeep when it happened, two survived, one didn’t.
“So, I was back in the UK, and they just came in and said, 'It’s VE Day, you’ve got the day off.'
“Like everybody else, we went down the pub. I got back at 1am - an hour late - and got a charge. The next morning, once they’d found out I was SAS, they released me to be returned to my unit, but the charge followed me there. It got put in the bin though.”
Alec said he would sum VE Day up with two words: “Getting drunk.”
“I spent quite some time trying to strike up a conversation with another man from 1 SAS, until I realised I was actually looking at myself in a large mirror.”
Geoff spent his 21st birthday on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, landing with comrades from the 25th Hussars.
By the time VE Day came around, he had fought his way all the way through to a little village in Germany. He told us that he and his colleagues had earlier liberated Belsen and were on their way to Lubec when the surrender was announced.
Geoff said: “I cannot remember much about VE Day as I was so inebriated.
"Someone had looted a liquor store and gave me a bottle of brandy.”
Geoff remembered that he and colleagues got into a little bit of mischief while drunk, gunning chimney pots on the rooftops of the buildings in the village.
“I managed to eat breakfast the following day but then collapsed again and was ill for days. I was very relieved that the army didn’t put me on a charge.”