VE Day Memories

To commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Canon Ian Morter asked members of the Exeter Cathedral community to share their memories of the day when Victory in Europe was declared.

 

 

Abbots Lodge, July 1942 (Photo: Ursula Radford)

 

 

On VE Day the school walked us up to the top of ‘Little Hangman,’ a hill outside Coombe Martin, and we celebrated the occasion with singing on the top of the hill. I remember coming down the hill arm in arm with my friends so joyful at the end of the war”

Winifred Martin

Now 92, Winifred has lived in Lympstone all her life. She recalls that “on the week of VE Day I was on a school camp at Coombe Martin in North Devon. The school walked us up to the top of ‘Little Hangman,’ a hill outside Coombe Martin, and we celebrated the occasion with singing on the top of the hill. I remember coming down the hill arm in arm with my friends so joyful at the end of the war.”

 

 

Exeter Cathedral air raid damage, 4 May 1942

 

We joined  the partying in London Inn Square, Longbrook Street where there was dancing. I returned the next day and all the shops were still closed but the Cathedral and Royal Clarence Hotel were still lit up by search lights. I had to return to school after four days to resume the term’s studying”

John Colmer
John Colmer is now 90 and living in Topsham, but on VE Day his family home was in Barnfield Road, Exeter. He recalls “I was a schoolboy during the War, attending All Hallows College, a boarding school at Lyme Regis. I had just returned to school for the summer term when VE Day was announced, and all the school were sent home for the celebrations. John wrote in his diary that he had eaten eight ice creams that day! He and his family, with a young girlfriend, April Kelly, attended the Thanksgiving Service for VE Day on Cathedral Green, as the Cathedral still had its windows boarded up after the raid in 1942. Afterwards they walked through Northernhay Gardens and watched fireworks. John continues, “We joined the partying in London Inn Square, Longbrook Street, where there was dancing. I returned the next day to find all the shops still closed, but the Cathedral and Royal Clarence Hotel were lit up by search lights. I had to return to school after four days to resume the term’s studying.” 

 

 

High Street, Exeter, including remains of the Commercial Union

 

 

…on VE Day I was serving in Italy, at Naples. I remember that VE Day was very much a working day, but in the evening there was a great sense of relief and rejoicing…”

Mary Nesbit
Now 98 and a long time resident of Exeter, Mary Nesbit was serving in the WRNS in the Coding & Cyphering Department. She explains, “At first I was deployed in Alexandria and Alamein. But on VE Day I was serving in Italy, at Naples. I remember that VE Day was very much a working day, but in the evening there was a great sense of relief and rejoicing with those with whom I was stationed, that the war was now over in Europe”.

 

 

View to Exeter Cathedral from Southernhay (Photo: Ursula Radford)

 

 

“On VE Day my road did not have a street party but some adjacent streets did, and there was general revelry and celebrations.”

Peggy Conway
Peggy Conway has lived in Exeter all her life, and during the war she lived with her parents in Jubilee Road. She had just started work on 5th May 1945 as a telephone operator for the Telegraph Office at Barnfield Hall. She recalls, “On VE Day, my road did not have a street party, but some adjacent streets did, and there was general revelry and celebrations.”

 

 

Bedford Circus, Exeter

 

 

“I lived in the Longbrook Street area and I joined in the street party and dancing that took place in London Inn Square.”

Barbara Stark
In 1945, Barbara Stark (now 92) was working for Lloyds Bank. Due to the bombing in 1942, the bank had been relocated to the basement of the Rowe Bros. building in Queen Street, opposite Central Station. Remembering VE Day, Barbara says, “I lived in the Longbrook Street area and I joined in the street party and dancing that took place in London Inn Square. There were also many private parties in the gardens of houses in Longbrook.”

 

 

View of Exeter Cathedral from High Street (Photo: J Dixon Scott)

 

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