Staff and residents at Whitgift Care enjoyed a weekend of celebrations and shared their tales of victory to mark the 75th anniversary of the ending of the Second World War in Europe.
Our care homes, Wilhelmina House and Whitgift House, adorned communal areas in flags and bunting and activities co-ordinators proudly put on a full programme of entertainment for residents whilst adhering to social distancing measures.
On VE Day at Whitgift House, staff and residents paid their respects to the war veterans in a two-minute silence before residents recollected what they were doing on VE Day with snippets of stories shared below.
Corridors were filled with renditions of Daisy Daisy, We’ll Meet Again and Pack Up Your Troubles as activities co-ordinators, Angela and Ann, sang to residents in their rooms.
In the afternoon, residents who were able, joined in a social distancing afternoon cream tea with the home’s finest china in the Anne Dynewell whilst watching the celebrations on TV.
On Saturday, with the sun out and temperatures soaring, residents enjoyed ice cream and a glass of Pimms.
Meanwhile over at Wilhelmina House, residents took part in quizzes and puzzles in their rooms with plenty of cake on offer.
Resident tales of VE Day in 1945
Margaret was at school when she heard about the end of war in Europe. Margaret and her mum went up to London after school to join in the celebrations and they stood outside Buckingham Palace. There was a lot of noise, music playing, and people were singing and dancing. Margaret also remembered that the night before her 11+ her house was bombed but she still took the exam, unfortunately she failed but passed the second time she took it. She also remembered that when the school was closed, she had a temporary school in her front room with about eight other children learning their lessons.
Stan was in the tank regiment in County Durham and as they completed their training, they could visit Bishop Auckland to celebrate VE Day. The local town hall was holding a celebratory party with was lots of music. Stan remembered dancing to Glenn Miller with a lady called Hilda, he had dated her for a few months before and they corresponded regularly. At the end of the night they had to walk 25 miles to get back to their regiment. Three months later he was posted to the Middle East. Due to the troop ship engine being broken he had 14 days embarkation leave. They left Southampton 14 days later and ended up in Gibraltar due to the engine again. They also had 14 days leave here and so they played football and remembered that they had tinned fruit which Stan said was a luxury. They finally arrived in Egypt where they spent 18 months and then moved to Greece where he met a young lady who he wanted to marry but his commanding officer said no as they knew the marriage would not last. Stan wanted to start up a window cleaning business in South Africa as there were big opportunities but once he arrived home and spent time with his family, he changed his mind. His regiment exchanged camps with the Welsh guards in Esher, Surrey. At the barracks there were six men to a stable with two tier iron beds with straw mattress. Stan said it was an interesting experience and would do it all over again. He left the army in 1950. After leaving the army his friend from the army found an old letter that Stan wrote to him, he visited him that afternoon. His friend fell in love with Stan’s sister and they were married a few weeks later. They are still together and had 8 children.
Flo worked as a dress maker in Bermondsey. When they heard the war was over her and her friend left work and went up to London, they met their friends and family up there they were outside Buckingham Palace. There was a good atmosphere lots of noise singing and dancing. They saw King George VI and the Queen come onto the balcony. The crowd was cheering. Flo said it was overwhelming and would not have missed it for the world. She could not remember what time she went home.
While working at Park House in South Kensington as a shorthand typist Daphne heard the news on the wireless. She left her work and met her mum at Victoria. They went up to Buckingham Palace there was a lovely atmosphere. After seeing the king and queen they came home by train. They had a street party a couple of days later there was lots of food and dancing. Daphne said it was lovely to take down the black out from their window and to see the streetlights on again.
Hilary was at boarding school when they heard the news. They were allowed the afternoon off. When Hilary’s dad came home from India in the December, he brought Hilary back a woven basket with a sandalwood elephant in it. She still has the elephant minus the tusks.
Margaret’s husband had to go to the Middle East on VE Day as he was a sub lieutenant on HMS Malaya. Churchill wanted to send his troops to Hong Kong before the American got there. Margaret and her husband walked to Streatham Common train station where Margaret said goodbye to her husband It was a very sad time as she didn’t know if she would every see him again and they had only been married a month and she was 6 months pregnant. She lived with her parents until he returned three years later.