VE Day 1945: photos and memories from our readers

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:25 04 May 2020

A street party in Budleigh Salterton.

A street party in Budleigh Salterton.


Street parties and Victory Balls took place across East Devon as the nation celebrated VE Day on May 8, 1945, and here are some of the photos and descriptions sent in by our readers.

The nurses from the Bystock Convalescent Home ; Win Freeman is front row, far right.   Picture: David SalmonThe nurses from the Bystock Convalescent Home ; Win Freeman is front row, far right. Picture: David Salmon

Win Freeman was a 23-year-old nurse working at Bystock Convalescent Home near Exmouth.

In a letter to her sister Joyce in London she describes hearing the news of VE Day on the radio on May 7.

She wrote: “The NCO (non-commissioned officer) sergeant came tearing along the corridor, picked me up and whirled me round and round.”

The following evening a group from the home went into Exmouth for a Victory Ball at the Pavilion, where Miss Freeman ‘celebrated victory by breaking the rules’, namely removing her jacket to reveal a short-sleeved blouse, and dancing with a patient.

VE Day street party in Budleigh SaltertonVE Day street party in Budleigh Salterton

The nurses got a lift back in a lorry ‘loaded with jubilant Marines’ and were then kept awake by patients returning in very high spirits.

Reader Sandra Ward said her parents, Lily and Sydney, went to a VE Day dance in Axminster’s town square.

They were living in Kilmington, and her father had come home from the war with his leg in plaster after being wounded on D-Day.

She said her mother was determined to attend the dance and cycled to Axminster with Sydney balancing on the back of her bicycle.

Lily and Sydney Woodage on their wedding day.Lily and Sydney Woodage on their wedding day.

The ball was ‘a very big affair with flags and bunting’, with music by the Axminster Town Band and a piano dragged outside from one of the pubs.

“Mother danced. She loved to jitterbug. Father was positioned on a chair his leg resting on another. In his wounded soldier’s uniform, mother told me, he did very nicely thank you, in beer.”

Exmouth resident Eric White said his father Arthur was a prisoner of war in Japan at the time of VE Day, and totally unaware that hostilities in Europe were over.

“The only thing that he noticed was the usual guards were replaced by ‘much more friendly’ ones, and an issue was made of Red Cross cigarettes, the first he had seen,” he said.

Poster announcing social evening for returning POWsPoster announcing social evening for returning POWs

In Budleigh Salterton there were street parties and a social evening for returning prisoners of war at the Masonic Hall; reader Nick Loman has provided the photos.

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