A view of Lincoln Cathedral ahead of an FA Cup game 280117 CREDIT PA
VE Day

VE Day: When Lincoln's Bells Broke The Silence Of War

George Bradford, who was 14 on VE Day, said "all you heard" through Lincoln city centre was church bells.

A view of Lincoln Cathedral ahead of an FA Cup game 280117 CREDIT PA

George Bradford, 89, joined the Royal Marines after watching Second World War dogfights in the skies over Britain.

He was 14 years old and living in Lincoln when the end of the war was announced on 8 May 1945.

George said people knew the war was ending but not sure exactly when.

“There was great expectation that the war was coming to an end," he said.

"We heard on the news that German troops were surrendering, the Allies were closing in from both east and west. And it really was only a matter of time.”

George was evacuated to live with his grandparents in Lincoln during the war.

“We went to school in the morning, and at assembly, we were told that we were going home at lunchtime," he recalled. 

"I think that it was at three o'clock [Sir] Winston Churchill spoke to the nation, and said that the war would literally end, I think at midnight."

After listening to the Prime Minister's speech, George said he remembers the sound of "every door in the street" opening.

He said: "Everyone went out and they were all hugging each other, and you know the, sort of, ‘I wonder when Tommy will be home’, and, ‘I wonder when Jack will be home’, etcetera.”

WATCH: George Bradford speaks to Forces News.

“Although all the churches' bells were not allowed to ring during the war, I know that they used to go practising.

"They used to put what's called muffles on the bells, so they could practice their peals of bell ringing.

"And then, when the time came, off came the muffles. All you heard was all the churches down Lincoln High Street.

"From St Botolph’s, which was my church, all the way down literally through the stonebow (of the Lincoln Guildhall) and up to the cathedral.

“Together with all my friends, we went into the high street and we all congregated and people were just generally making merry and people would start singing all the wartime songs.”

He recalls the drink of the day being Sarsaparilla, which tasted very similar to "putting a bit of fizz into dandelion and burdock".

“There were street parties and I can remember my grandmother making fish, fish paste sandwiches because that was all we had, was fish paste," he added.

“In our particular street, I mean it was literally closed off and they had trestle tables or the men made makeshift tables.

“I think probably those that had lost loved ones couldn't sort of cope with all the excitement and enjoyment of knowing that... other people's husband, brother, whatever were coming home, and they were still alive. I think they probably didn't take part.”

“The end of the day, I got into trouble because my grandmother and grandfather were very worried that I'd been out so long, and of course I didn't even know what time it was, I think it was very dark.”

“It was very late and my grandfather met me at the corner of our street and I got a bit of a telling off, not too severe, but I got a telling off for being out so late.”

George went on to spend 25 years in the Royal Marines from 1948 to 1973, and left as a Warrant Officer Class 2.

Cover image: Lincoln Cathedral (Picture: PA).