VE Day Memories
Peggy Haynes (was Butler) joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in 1942 and became a radar operator. Peggy wrote about her war service in her memoir ‘Searching in the Dark’ which is still available. It’s full of her notes, letters, poems and photos from the time.
Peggy was stationed at RAF Bawdsey at the time of VE Day and this is her account of 8 May 1945 taken from her book.
‘Weeks before, it was rumoured that VE Day had come – about 2 o’clock one morning when we were on night duty. I had been sent to listen to the radio because I understood German slightly. We were all tremendously excited, but when I had listened and heard only local news and general German propaganda, we all relaxed again.
VE Day, when it came, wasn’t all like that. We were all expecting it…and on May 8th we just weren’t capable of being surprised any more.
Peggy had many questions; ‘what was there to celebrate? Men were still fighting and dying in Burma?…but slowly we began to get the spirit’
‘In the afternoon we held a service on the lawn (of Bawdsey Manor)…that evening all the Americans appeared (with bottles of scotch)..…everyone got very merry, including me.
The King spoke at 9 o’clock and for a moment I knew again that old sense of loss: so many would never come back, so much was over for always’.
Anne Stobbs (was Miller) joined the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce in 1943 and became a radar operator. She wrote her wartime memoir ‘One-Oh-Eight Miller’ in 1989 for her daughters and all the WAAFs she served with.
This is Anne’s accent of VE Day taken from her book: she was stationed at RAF Barkway, near Royston in Hertfordshire at the time.
‘Then on May 8th I was on the six to midnight watch.
The radio was on in the Ops room and suddenly a voice told us to stand by for an important announcement. Everyone came through from the restroom and crowded round the radio, and then we heard those almost incredible words telling us that Germany had laid down her arms in unconditional surrender, and the war in Europe was over.
We were completely stunned, even though we’d been expecting it. Stunned and elated. We came off watch soon after, and as we walked down to the sleeping camp, it suddenly dawned on us we were probably the only people who knew!
I rang and rang and rang the fire bell….we shouted out the news to everyone…and the shouts grew louder and louder all-round the camp’.
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