VE Day dawned bright and clear. I should be in Halstead Public Gardens, talking about our Homefront Halstead display, being regaled by people’s memories, and enjoying the sun. However due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of the events marking this 75th anniversary have had to be cancelled. Instead tea and cakes in the front garden at 4pm, chatting to neighbours, keeping socially distanced was the order of the day for many.
Even so, we can still remember and reflect on what our parents and grandparents went through during World War 2 to reach this day. Mum was interned in a Japanese concentration camp, and Dad served in the 14th Army, 23rd Indian Infantry. Victory in Europe was declared on 8 May 1945, but liberation for my parents wasn’t to come till August, and Victory over Japan Day.
We are going through very strange and, for many, sad times, but speaking to my wonderful mum and dad puts it into perspective. The horrors that they endured for six years, and how they felt when the fighting and the bombing stopped, is what it is all about today. They suffered so that we can enjoy the rights and benefits we have today as British citizens.
I wish I could have been with Mum and Dad to share today, but lockdown has meant that is out of the question. We celebrate the day apart but very much together in heart, and I raise a glass or two to toast them and all the many who fought and struggled through those hard years.
We're always keen to gather memories of Halstead during the Second World War, especially when they relate to Halstead and its historic buildings. Please do let us know if you or any of your family members are willing to contribute yours.