V.E. Day stands for Victory in Europe, and was widely celebrated by a population who were pleased that they were no longer at risk of being bombed, and that perhaps the end of the war was in sight. However, we should not forget all those who served in the Far East, many of whom were engaged in combat until the middle of August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered and V. J. Day was declared.
Many of these soldiers did not come home until 1947, and we should always remember that some of them never came home at all. Many readers of Syston Town News will remember Mary Gamble with fondness and respect. Mary lived in Syston from 1961 until her death in 2018, and was an active member of Age Concern Syston, New Barkby W. I., and St Peter and St Paul’s Church. When I was researching life in Syston and district for a book five years ago, I interviewed Mary about what she had done during the war, and I have never forgotten what she told me about how she felt on V. E. Day. Mary married her husband Ernest at Thurmaston Church on 19th September 1942.
As Ernest was in the forces, Mary went back to her Father’s house on Humberstone Lane after their brief honeymoon, and Ernest went back to his base. Shortly afterwards Ernest was sent with his unit to fight the Japanese in the Far East, and Mary was not to see him for several years. This is the story of how Mary spent V. E. Day; –‘There was a street party outside the house, but I couldn’t celebrate. I went in the house and cried for most of the day. I didn’t know whether Ernest was alive or dead.’
In fact Ernest was alive, and after he returned to England in 1947 he told Mary how he had spent V. E. Day in the jungle. ‘The Commanding Officer came up to me and a group of my mates and said; ‘Right lads, it’s Victory in Europe Day today. You can have an extra five minutes tea break’. Later that day the men were fighting a Japanese patrol.
Felicity Austin, written with the permission of Mary and Ernest’s two sons, Dennis and David.
An Exhibition for all the family Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of V. E. Day, and all those who served in any way* in World War Two.The exhibition due to be held in St Peter and St Paul’s Church on Saturday 9th May all day and Sunday 10th May in the afternoon, is postponed due to the coronavirus. There will be displays about many aspects of ‘Life on the Home Front’ (such as food rationing) as well as information about local organisations such as the A. R. P. and local firms who did war work. We’ll also feature ‘A wartime Christmas’ and clothes rationing as well as displaying a local woman’s original WAAF uniform, and there will be some old-fashioned games and toys for children to try out. Refreshments will be served in the church hall all the time the exhibition is open. Look out for posters with exact timings on, or look at the church’s website for details. All are welcome, entrance is free.