65 years ago today was VE day, which stand for ‘Victory in Europe’ and marked the end of the second world war. My Grandmother, Gladys Bennie nee Ellis, who had married a Canadian pilot after only a very few weeks of courtship, travelled from Slough to London the day before, and sat on a pavement all night with countless others to watch the Victory parade. She missed her last train home and only made it as far as Windsor. Gladys went to the local police station and explained her situation. They very kindly made her up a bed in one of the cells (a lot cleaner in those days I should imagine), cooked her breakfast in the morning and she then made her way home.
I have many stories similar to this one told by my Grandmother, mostly about the war, and her early life. I am glad I remember them, for now dementia has taken hold and she remembers very little from the past. Interestingly most of her memories centre around her childhood in Cumberland. Conversations with her are now a cycle of repetition. I rang her today at the home where she now lives, and told her it was the 65th Anniversary of VE Day, she remembered being there…but little else. Today wasn’t a good day. Gladys will be 90 this year, she born in 1920.
I have been looking at pictures and old films today of that event. People were euphoric and joyful, and full of hope for a better future and so desperately happy and relieved that the terrible days of bombings, death, deprivation and uncertainty would be at an end.
Though I was born in the early 60’s, quite some time after the war had ended, it was still for most people of my parents and grandparents age, a recent memory. In fact, there were still many legacies of the war around. The garden next to my Aunties house had an Anderson shelter at the bottom, though my sister and I were never allowed in it, and in fact, rationing didn’t come to an end until the mid 50’s. Most of the films on the television were about the war etc, as were documentaries, the most memorable being ‘World at War’, broadcast most unsuitably during Sunday afternoons.
The world has changed considerably since then. Nations have been formed, borders have changed, moved..dissapeared altogether. New technologies, cultures, belief systems and ways of life. I wonder how the world will look when I am 90?
Anyway, here is to all the souls who fought in that war, supported their country, and helped to rid the world of a terrible evil, that today so many have so little knowledge of. And here is to my Grandma, whom I love so very much.
Grandma died late summer last year.