By Paul Browning of the Running Past Blog
The 8 May 1945 sees the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe, VE Day and as part of this year’s Festival we are remembering this important anniversary that had both national and local significance. With Berlin surrounded and the suicide of Hitler at the end of April 1945, the winding down of the Home Front was rapid – public air raid shelters were closed down, as was the air raid warning system and plans were made for the return of evacuee children and mothers by the end of May. On 7 May Germany accepted an unconditional surrender of German Forces in most of the areas that they still occupied in the Netherlands and northwest Germany the surrender came into effect the following day.
A further surrender document was signed with the Russians on 8 May.
Over a million people took to the streets on 8 May in celebration throughout Great Britain to mark the end of the European part of the war. While many massed in central London, particularly in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
In and around Hither Green there were lots of street parties – including ones in The Woodlands and neighbouring Blashford Street which is pictured. South Park Crescent too was the scene of a large party – no doubt the celebrations were tempered there though by memories of 5 children from there and neighbouring streets who were amongst 38 children and 5 teachers who died at Sandhurst Road School.
In addition to the celebration of the end of hostilities, there will have been a relief that bombing and rocket attacks were over – roads like Springbank had been badly affected by the Blitz, with V-1s hitting lots of Hither Green streets – including Nightingale Grove, Fernbrook Road, between Springbank and Wellmeadow Roads along with Leahurst Road. Rationing though was to continue after the war with it not officially ending for meat until 1954.