Memories It is 75 years since VE (May 8th) and VJ (August 15th)
These are memories from members of St.Mary’s:
From David Palmer
VE day was my 6th birthday and I couldn’t have a party because of the celebrations. My
brother and I went round Darlington where we lived banging a piece of corrugated iron with
a big stick making as much noise as possible.
From Stephanie Palmer
VJ day was my 4th birthday and I remember a fancy dress parade and street party. I can’t
be sure whether it was on the actual day or soon after but it was to celebrate the end of the
war. It was an important day for our family as we had a relation who was a POW of the
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of the war a tea towel was on produced giving
both dates which we thought was great as a souvenir of our birthdays.
Wartime Memories – 1945 from Audrey Jamieson
(Audrey Langley in these childhood years)
I was born on September 1st 1940, in the 'front room' downstairs at Holkham Village on the
North Norfolk coast. Downstairs - because the Battle of Britain was raging in the air. As our
neighbour, Mrs Bessie Neale, the midwife was bringing me into the world, her husband
George, the village postman was discussing possible German invasion with Jabez Dunn.
(Both Mr and Mrs Neale were in the delivery business!) Eventually my father was called up
in March 1943, arrived in Normandy after D Day and became a guard at a coal mine near Essen.
Fast forward to life up to VE and VJ Days in 1945.
I was brought up to a rural war time life - the drone of planes, troop movements by lorry or
on foot,the wail of the siren - warning or all clear from Wells adjacent to my grandparents
house. Gas powered 'United' buses with their balloon containers passed by occasionally,
Italian prisoners of war were in a camp in Holkham Park by the head gamekeepers lodge
and, yes, the keepers had their orders! Our ration books were taken to have the coupons
clipped out in return for groceries at the little village shop run by Gordon Jackson who was
a Quaker conscientious objector. Bread, fish, meat and milk were delivered from Wells. The
horse and cart featured. Very hot cross buns arrived very early each Good Friday morning.
Since war was the norm, the first realisation that 'things weren't right' came with my
mother's reaction to radio news of the havoc wreaked by the flying bombs - doodlebugs. I
was a 'pingler' - is that dialect Norfolk for a fussy eater? That was me! My mother would say
that if I didn't eat up I would look like a Belsen child. I wonder how much information had
permeated about the concentration camps? I would have willingly passed on my uneaten
rice pudding to all the hungry children in China my mother was always talking about. Waste
not want not was mother's mantra.
On May 8th 1945, VE Day, I don't remember anything out of the ordinary. We hadn't been
bombed of course. Barrage balloons flew above Wells harbour. Aircraft from the numerous
local airfields diminished. As for celebrations - men and women were still serving in the
forces away from home. Thousands would never return. Men from East Anglian regiments
had been captured in the far East at the fall of Singapore and were toiling on the notorious
Burma railway. Each time we met my mother's friend, Nora, in Wells, always the same
question, "Any news of George?" Always a negative. George now lies in a far Eastern
cemetery never to return home. There was still fierce fighting in the Far East until 'The
Bomb' and Japanese surrender on August 15th. Celebrations would be bittersweet.
After VJ day on August 15th, we Holkham villagers had a ceremonial tea in a marquee by Holkham Hall. While those childhood Summers in the harvest field with the waggon drawn
by gentle Beauty the horse seemed always sunlit and warm, the victory tea day was dull
and cold. Probably, by the tea celebration, our 'lord' the Earl of Leicester of Holkham Hall
, had returned from serving in Egypt with the Scots Guards. The abiding memory I retain of
is that of my egg sandwich which was served with liberal amounts of crunchy shell. It was
horrible! I'd been well trained by my mother that you never, ever spat out food, so I didn't!
That memory haunts me to this day.
As life became post war, not-withstanding the austerity, my father returned home. At one
point we attended a Thanksgiving Service at St. Martin's in the Fields in London. We sat
near a serviceman from the West Indies in his RAF uniform. At Holkham the mines on the
beach were exploded, what a din, and the barbed wire was removed. Life continued for this
'now five year old' except that I caught measles on starting school and eventually gained a