Saturday, February 25, 2006

VE Day, as seen from a field near Venice

Photo shows: 12th May 1945, Piazza San Marco, day leave in Venice

Diary entry for 8th May 1945
Filling up with petrol while Hewie has a day in Venice. Packed most of the tanks. Dinner was just for Bill and I. Boys came back from leave 'dry'.

There we were, in this field in the middle of nowhere, when someone on another tank called out, 'They're going mad back home, get the BBC on your set or you'll miss all the fun.'

I tuned in my 19 set to the Home Forces station and for the benefit of those outside the tank, hung all the earphones over the side of the hull. The crackle of the headphones soon drew a small crowd around the tank and we all listened in amazement to an unknown announcer describing the scene in Trafalgar Square.

I remember quite clearly that my emotions at the time were mixed. On the one hand it was good to feel that perhaps some of my loved ones back home were taking part in the scenes that were now taking place. On the other hand I, and in hindsight, I'm sure most of my comrades, felt somehow cheated that we, who had 'risked life and limb' and had been away from home for so many years, were not there in England to share in the triumph.

There is a footnote to the above.

In May 1995 one of my local papers asked their readers to send in stories relating to 'Where were you on VE Day?' I sent in my small story and as a result of this being published I was contacted by London News Network who were doing a run up to the VE Day Commemoration programs.

I, with a few other veterans, was invited down to the Imperial War Museum, stood in front of a Sherman Tank and interviewed on what it felt like to be listening to the crowds in Trafalgar Square whilst I was still so far from home. I still have a video of the program that was shown during the ITV news and a photo that I took of myself as it was shown on the screen.

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