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Reflections on VE Day 75

By Mike Coyle

Crowds of people celebrating outside of Blackpool Town Hall
Crowds gathered outside the Town Hall for the official celebrations (Gazette & Herald)

May 8th, 1945 VE Day! The day the Second World War hostilities officially ceased. It was a time of relief, huge happiness and massive celebration. The King and Queen, greeted the huge number of folk who had made their way to Buckingham Palace and Mall. Closer to home in Blackpool, street parties, dancing, singing and drinking and some sadness were the order of the day, or several days. On 9th May a Service of Thanksgiving was held at the Opera House.

Close up of crowds celebrating with North Pier in the background
The VE Day crowds in Talbot Square (Gazette & Herald)

This was 'partying' in desperate times; shortages of almost everything, rationing and many of the men and women were still away in Europe and would be for a few months more, before being able to celebrate with family at home.

The same too for Prisoners of War. It would be months before they are repatriated. Never-the-less, Blackpool like all villages, towns and Cities, demonstrated their relief in homes and streets and pubs.
Following the euphoria of the celebrations, the accounting, the losses in people and in property and industry. Time too to remember that fighting was continuing in the Far East for another 4 months. Longer still for the boys of the 'Blackpool Regiment'. They had been caught up in the Fall of Singapore in February 1942 and been captive of the Japanese in appalling conditions, shipped all over the Far East to work in the Japanese war effort, including on the notorious 'Burma Railway'.

A soldier in uniform embracing a woman
A reunion at Blackpool North Station (Gazette & Herald)

It would be months more before the word of the Japanese Surrender would get through to them, and weeks more before repatriation. Though at the time of VE Day, only one thing was on the mind of Blackpool folk, CELEBRATION and looking forward to better times ahead.