The excitement was nearly too much to bear! Everyone knew the war was over but needed to hear the official confirmation. Finally on 8th May 1945 it finally came – the voice of Winston Churchill over the radio: “Although the enemy in the Far East has yet to be conquered, the war in Europe is now over, God Save the King”.
The country began to celebrate. Schools were closed for the day. People gathered in droves, safe now the bombing and trips to the air raid shelters had ended. Street parties were quickly organised.
Many Erskine Veterans over the years have shared their Victory in Europe Day memories:
One said: “All my family lived very close to each other. We had lived through the war together and we celebrated together – well I did when I got back from work, I had to go to work as a Signal Boy for the London Midland and Scottish Railways. None of us got the day off – no matter what”.
Another remembered: “The streets were decorated from side to side with flags, trestle tables and everyone had brought out tablecloths and food for the street party. We still had food rationing so the food was a bit different to what it would have been in today’s world”.
Although young at the time, another Veteran said: “The atmosphere was buoyant, very happy, elated”.
A poignant recollection came from a Veteran old enough to be participating in the war. He recalled being in India with his fellow Royal Air Force colleagues at the time of Churchill’s announcement. They celebrated with a party and felt very relieved that a major part of the war was over”.
And finally one Erskine lady, who lived in London at the time, said: “Where else would you gather to celebrate but outside Buckingham Palace with the crowds yelling: “We want the King”. Wonderful memories to have especially when the King, Queen and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose came out and greet the crowds, joined after a while by Winston Churchill.
Churchill, however, tempered the jubilation somewhat, by pointing out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 3pm on 8th May, Churchill told the British people that: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing as Japan remains unsubdued”.
Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day) finally came on 15 August 1945.