As I photographed some of my precious little seedlings yesterday, it made me think of the 'Dig for Victory' campaign during the war. A timely thought for today, as we remember VE Day.
For me, and many others, one of the great things to come out of this crisis is the extra time we have at home for gardening. I've talked on here about my gardening exploits, and the challenges of buying anything related to horticulture without taking out a second mortgage! Yesterday I actually managed to get into our local branch of a well known DIY store and bought a much needed wheelbarrow, for the impending topsoil delivery.
I do hope we all continue to nurture our plants and grow what we can in the future.
Maybe not so much 'digging for victory' as 'digging for wellbeing'!
So today's another one of these 'were gonnae but couldnae' days, with the nation's VE Day celebrations cancelled.
I would have been visiting our local Primary School, with a group of carers, as part of our Intergenerational Project, where some of our treasured older carers would have been sharing their stories of VE Day, and wartime schooling with the children, as part of their Living History Day.
This morning I received an email from the Head Teacher, with a video made by the teachers, titled ' Keep Smiling Through'. I couldn't stop crying!
For today's blog I'm joined (virtually) by the amazing Betty Cookson, who has written about her memories of VE Day. I'm so glad to be able to share her words despite our events being cancelled.
Here's Betty's story:
V E day 75th anniversary 2020.
Liverpool the second most bombed city outside of London. V.E. day ‘Victory in Europe’ 8th May 1945. I was 10 years old. I lived with my parents in a 2 up 2 down in a row of terraced houses in a working- class area near the docks on the River Mersey. For the last 6 years my playground was playing in the debris on the bomb sites, collecting shrapnel for swaps, rummaging through the partly demolished buildings hoping to find anything of interest. When the air raid siren sounded we ran to the nearest shelter and then stayed there until the " all clear " As children we didn't really know the meaning of war and weren't really frightened , all we knew was that the that the Germans were the baddies and we were the goodies .
On the morning of the 3rd of May we woke up to an important announcement on the wireless given by Mr. Churchill.
" Germany has unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. The war with Germany is at an end. Victory in Europe". Adolph Hitler had committed suicide along with his wife and Alsatian dog by taking cyanide ,
After 6 long years of turmoil, death, destruction, it was finally over - the boys will be coming home, prisoners of war and wounded were given priority.
A day of jubilation like no other seen before. Church bells rang out all over the country denoting the war had ended. Celebrations in every town and city went on for days. The ships on the river and the Mersey ferries sounding their fog horns all through the night , flags and buntings hanging from every building , crowds gathered in all public places hugging and kissing , cheering and singing ‘Roll out the barrel’ and all the popular songs , dancing the Hokey- Cokey , doing the Conga up and down the streets, laughter and tears and relief .
It was decided May 8th would be made an official holiday for V E day.
Celebrations began, street parties organised, housewives making do with what rations they had. In my street odd tables and chairs were set up. Everyone mucked in baking cakes and jelly creams, sandwiches made from anything available. Decorations hanging from lampposts, the pavements painted red white and blue. A piano was wheeled out into the street from someone's parlour, mouth organs, banjos, washboards and anything that would make a noise like pots and pans, and dustbin lids. Bonfires were lit usually with an effigy of Hitler on the top. The dancing and singing went on into the early hours. In the city the famous illuminated tram car was brought into service, travelling the city for the first time since the coronation of 1937, with a live band playing on the top deck. The celebrations went on for 10 days.
Watching the scenes of happiness mixed with sadness for those who aren't coming back, there is a particular song they were dancing to that night and it stayed in my mind. Whenever I hear it now it always takes me back to that never forgotten night. ' Let the rest of the world go by. '
Mr Hitler may have destroyed our city, but he did not break the spirit of the people of Liverpool. We survived.
(As a matter of interest, my gas mask tin is on display in the ‘Oban War and Peace Museum’. )
Betty Cookson, May 2020.
Thought this photo of Betty, taken at one of our Reminiscence sessions last year might make you smile too.
Living as we are today, makes this story of street parties and lengthy celebrations with crowds of people seem even more poignant.
Keep smiling through, and keep looking forward to our own Covid Victory Day one day.
Stay safe, and enjoy not having to water your garden for a day or two.