On Tuesday 8th May 1945 in Berlin, the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces in the Second World War, as had been agreed the previous day at Rheims. Hostilities were to end officially at one minute after midnight. As Prime Minister Winston Churchill said, “This should not prevent us from celebrating today and tomorrow, Wednesday, as Victory in Europe Days.” Both 8th and 9th May became known as VE (Victory in Europe) Day. Three months later, when the war finally came to an end, VJ (Victory in Japan) Day was celebrated.
In Badsey, we learn from The Evesham Standard of Saturday 19th May, that a dance was held that evening at the Council School, whilst street parties were held the next day throughout the village. American soldiers turned up in a jeep at one party and gave the children a ride, whilst on Bretforton Road the children were given free ice-cream from the store belonging to Messrs Butler (present-day No 9). Another dance was held at the Old Schools (now The Pub in a Club).
On Sunday 13th May, according to a further article in The Evesham Standard, in accordance with the King’s wish, the day was set aside as a day of National Prayer. A parade consisting of the Home Guard, the British Legion and detachments from the Nursing and VAD services, led by the band of the St John Ambulance Cadets, assembled in Bretforton Road and marched through the village to St James’ Church where a special thanksgiving was held. The church bells rang out, then the Reverend Canon Tissington Tatlow gave the address. Special hymns and prayers of dedication and thanksgiving were included. [Canon Tatlow had been living with the Sladden family at Seward House for the duration of the war, where the headquarters of the Institute of Christian Education at Home and Overseas was temporarily based.]
Terry Sparrow, who was a schoolboy of 11 in 1945, recalls that he first heard the news of victory in Europe when walking to the bus-stop from Prince Henry’s Grammar School. He had not heard the news whilst at school, and it was only when he saw all the flags and bunting in the High Street that he realised what had happened. The next day, he and younger brother, Patrick, aged nine, participated in the children’s street party which took place in Brewers Lane. Tables and chairs were set up along the middle of the road, cakes and sandwiches were served and races were organised. Terry recalls that former police constable, Fred Hill, who was then in his seventies, insisted on joining in when an adult race was taking place.
Sadly, in these days of Covid-19, the party of 1945 cannot be replicated, but the enterprising residents of Brewers Lane have ensured that the 75th anniversary will be marked, albeit with social distancing in place. So Terry and Patrick will again get to celebrate VE Day with a party on Brewers Lane.
Another party was held in August 1945 for VJ Day. We are fortunate that we have two photographs of a VJ party held in Mill Lane. We are grateful to the late Mrs Emmeline Hughes (née Sheward) for the loan of the photos. Mrs Hughes was born at No 1 Mill Cottages in 1935, and her mother before her had grown up there.
If anyone has any photos of VE Day celebrations in Badsey, Aldington or Wickhamford in 1945, we would love to see them.
We have yet to receive any VE day photos from 1945, but we have been sent this amusing photo taken in 2015 at the 70th celebration. It shows "The Red Sparrows" parading down Seward Road to The Dam Busters March. The party was organised by Mary Dore (veteran organiser of Seward Road parties), Mike and Wendy Neal, and Pat Westmacott for all residents of The Poplars, and the older part of Seward Road (from the junction with Manor Close as far as The Knapp). Alan and Shirley Tutton provided the PA and music and, after tea, Pat Westmacott organised a hilarious dressing up game, which had to be seen to be believed, as various residents of all ages, shapes and sizes struggled to get in to fancy dress costumes, items of underwear and clothing and hats. The lucky(?) victim was selected by whoever was holding the ball that was being passed around as the music stopped, as in Pass the Parcel.
Maureen Spinks, May 2020