VE Day during lockdown

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Last week’s VE day celebrations were not exactly what we had planned – but it turned out to be a very special day! Before Lockdown, we barely knew our neighbours – but we spent the entire day darting in and out of our house to clap, sing, eat and celebrate with them. The day started at 11am with a 2-minute silence at the roadside – although with delivery vans zooming up and down the road, it wasn’t very silent! After an interval (spent baking some cakes), at 3pm we all piled out on to the street again to eat, drink and spend time with one another - one of our neighbours had obviously started early and was a bit too merry! I was horrified as my Mum raced down the road leaving slices of her Bakewell tart at the end of our neighbours’ paths. Finally, at 9pm, we all gathered one last time to give a very enthusiastic, but out-of-tune version of ‘We’ll Meet Again’.

My Granddad, who has lived in the Chilterns all his life, remembers VE Day as a very low-key event in the village, with no street parties or wild celebrations. On the evening of 7 May 1945, his family turned on the radio to hear that the war had ended. At school the next day, all the children lined up in the playground and were herded onto a Surman’s bus and taken to the cinema at Princes Risborough to watch a film – and that was it. Very few of the evacuees from Dagenham were left in the village by that time – most had already gone home, and whilst Chinnor had had a few stray bombs fall over the wartime period, daily life was mostly the same. The one thing he remembers very vividly is how all the local girls were heartbroken because the end of the war meant that the US soldiers, based at Chalgrove, were leaving! He said that whilst the War was far more traumatic, the lockdown has been much, much more disruptive to our everyday lives.

So perhaps they were not the grand celebrations we had expected. But somehow it seems fitting that such a special occasion was commemorated in our close-knit community, brought together by adversity.

-Emily Neighbour


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