In the Spring of 1945 it was clear to the Government that the Allied forces in Europe would soon bring hostilities there to a successful conclusion. After almost six years of war the Government knew that the Nation would want to celebrate, so it set out guide lines of acceptable activities. Fireworks, Bonfires, Street Parties, were all listed.
Several of the men from Southey Walk, including my Dad, were in the Armed Forces, but many were not, because they were in ‘reserved occupations’. It was these men who, as the war ending drew near, built the biggest bonfire, a nine year old could imagine, in the ‘odds square’ of Southey Walk.
I remember that the bonfire was lit in the early hours of, what I assume was, the 8th May, 1945, following a radio broadcast, late the previous day, to the British people, that the war in Europe had ended. Many of us kids were woken up and allowed out. The little road, between the ‘two lines’ and the bonfire quickly filled with joyous people, from the other square and from neighbouring streets. It seemed like all of the front doors, from 9 round to 29 were open, as people celebrated.
It was a day or two before the fire embers were cool enough to be cleared away, but the road surface stayed warm for several more days. (Thankfully it was a concrete surface, not tarmac).
For a good many years now, when I remember back to that ‘party’, I have come to realise what a Bitter/Sweet time those celebrations must have been for some people. Sweet, knowing that they and their children were no longer in danger from air raids; but Bitter, because they still had a loved one fighting in the Far East, or perhaps they had already received a MIA or KIA, notification!!
So, kind reader, if you have a photograph of the Southey Walk VE Day street celebration of 75 years ago, please post it here.