WWII Veterans' memories of VE Day 1945

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Rob Forsyth

Aircraft Woman 1st Class Daphne Canning WAAF

Daphne was a London girl who joined the WAAF in 1942 aged 17, initially at Compton Basset for radio operator training and then in London at the Science Museum which had been taken over as a Radio School. She was bombed out of her digs in June 1944 by a doodlebug killing some and injuring many. She was sent to Chicksands which was a satellite signal intercept station feeding in to Bletchley Park.

About three days before peace was declared she was heading home to Wembley for weekend leave from Chicksands. She had hitched a lift in (possibly) a fire service vehicle. The crew of the vehicle informed her that peace was going to be declared but swore her to secrecy! When it was declared, Chicksands was stood down for the day, less those on essential duties. She has no recollections of great partying other than 20 - 30 people all dancing in a shallow stream which ran through the grounds of Chicksands Priory.

Sergeant Margery Hawes* WAAF

Margery was a plotter for two years from 1941 in an underground operations room for Fighter Command. She then moved to Scotland near Inverness where she had a bicycle to ride round the West Coast. She remembers that she mailed eggs to her home and they arrived intact.She was promoted to Sergeant. In 1944 she volunteered to go to Malines in Belgium to track V2 rockets fired from Peenemunde.  On VE Day she remembers a lot of partying in the streets and a great atmosphere and everyone being excited. She was demobbied in 1946.

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3rd Officer Stephanie Higham WRNS

Stehanie was a linguist speaking German, Italian and French so, when she voluntered in 1941, she quickly became trained in signal intercept working from stations on the East and South Coast.  In 1944 she was selected for Officer training. Afer D-Day she was appointed to Derby House in Liverpool from where the Atlantic convoys and their escorts were controlled from. She celebrated VE Day in London with friends. She was then part of a naval team that went first to Hamburg naval base whewre she acted as a translator and then to the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal.

Wren Edna Sewell WRNS

Edna joined the Navy - she liked the uniform! -  aged 18 fresh from school. She served briefly in Chatham and then was drafted to Southend-on-Sea where she worked in the section handling confidential books and coded signals for convoys. She had met and become engaged to her future husband before VE Day. On VE day itself she was trying to make her way through London to Bury to get married a few days later but got stuck at Euston Station where she enjoyed the celebrations before the crowds dispersed and she managed to resume her journey on to Berry and get married. Within a month she had been discharged from the Navy because Wrens were not allowed to be married. Her new Post Office book containing her discharge gratuity was serial No 1 so she had the distinction of being the first Wren to be discharged after the war.