VE Day

'It Wasn't Over': Why This Royal Marine Veteran Had To Wait To Celebrate VE Day

Jim Healy heard Germany had surrendered while on board HMS Persimmon.

Jim Healy was heading for the Pacific when he heard about the end of the War in Europe.

"We got the announcement through the ship’s tannoy that the Germans had surrendered," he says.

Jim, from Withington in Manchester is 95 now, but on 8 May 1945 he was a young man aboard HMS Persimmon.

The infantry landing ship was docked in India to take on more troops.

Even on a busy ship his celebrations were limited to start with.

“We were very excited [when we heard the announcement]," he says.

"I was on my own... I couldn’t very well do much more.

"I couldn’t do cartwheels down the mess!"

“Later on, we got into contact with other colleagues and we had a bit of a sing song and quite honestly, we were very, very grateful.”

Jim, pictured here on the back row, third from left (Credit: Jim Healy.)

Jim was called up when he was 18 years old, in May 1943.

Once he had passed a test he joined the Royal Marines.

It was while serving with them he played a part on D-Day, landing troops on Juno Beach during the invasion of Europe on 6th June 1944.

"We were completely involved in the European situation," he says, speaking about the war in Europe.

"We were very proud... that we had eventually reached surrender.

"And [they] say it was an achievement and we were very proud.”

Jim, pictured here in the top right of the photo (Credit: Jim Healy.)

Nonetheless, Jim explains VE Day had a bittersweet element.

“It was only half time then, in retrospect because we were going out there to fight the Japanese.

"That was quite a journey.

"In fact, a few days later on, we were on our way to one of our... landings.

"It wasn’t over by any means."

“We later saw the celebrations in Manchester and London and we thought that would’ve been very pleasant to have been dancing, singing and doing all sorts; patting one another on the back and hug one another in Piccadilly, Manchester or in Trafalgar Square.

"It’s something we... weren’t able to see until we were on our way home probably, when the ships got the pictures.

"It was a disappointment, to say the least.”

Jim is pictured in the middle (Credit: Jim Healy.)

Jim was planning on celebrating VE Day 75 at one of the events organised by the Royal British Legion.

However, due to precautions in place to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, he will instead celebrate at home, from a distance.

“We will be celebrating to say the least, on May 8th... and singing, of course Vera Lynn.”

“We may go outside and be joined by other people."

Jim served until August, 1945. After the war he married Marie, they were married for 38 years before she sadly passed away. He has two sons and a daughter.

Cover image: Jim Healy holding his medals (Picture: Royal British Legion).