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VE Day in Lymington: 70 years on

Victory in Europe Day, VE Day, was the public holiday in 1945 to mark the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces by the Allies of World War II. This marked the end of World War II in Europe.

David Bayliss was a boy at the time, and recounted his memories of VE Day in Lymington, and his life in the war, to the New Forest Remembers World War II project last year. David's memories are just some of the hundreds of pictures and audio recordings from the period collected by the project.

"I was at school during the war, I started school in 1940 in the junior school and then I came across the road to the senior school. We lived in Northfield Road, Milford on Sea to start with, then we moved from there to Woodside."

What do you remember about VE Day?

"VE Day, yeah, I remember VE Day very well.

"I think it was the evening, when the troops were all about in the High Street in Lymington, and they built a massive big bonfire in the middle of the High Street opposite Elliotts. They were throwing on wooden doors – anything they could get their hands on – wooden shutters, all these were going up in flames."

(Troops celebrating VE day on the High Street, Lymington. Courtesy of St Barbe Museum)

"I can remember the American troops were throwing thunder flashes and frightening us kids to death, but we all enjoyed it so much. I think we went home - I think we walked to Woodside that night about nine or ten o’clock at night, and that was late for us boys to be out on our own. I remember those stalls on the High Street in Lymington, different sorts of stalls selling odds and ends and rubbish and everything, but it was such a great time, super time."

(Residents of May Avenue, Lymington celebrating VE day. 18 August 1945. Courtesy of St Barbe Museum)

So David, what else do you remember about the war? What was the build-up of troops around D-Day like?

"For us boys it was glorious, it was just so much fun. We used to go into the camps. Our favourite one was on Alder Cliff. In the big houses there that then used to lay at the back there. We used to go there Saturday mornings and queue up with the troops for lunch or dinner, and used to go in and they used to say 'Yeah, come on kid, if you want something to eat, you queue up'.

"We used to have chicken. We only had a scrawny chicken or a duck at Christmas and that was it, but these guys were having chicken more or less every meal, and we could not believe it. The food we used to get, and I can remember one time when the cook – I went into the cookhouse – and the cook there said “You want some corned beef kid?” and I said “Yes”. So he gave me a big long pack and I can remember arriving home with it on the handlebars from Milford to Woodside. For us boys it was such a super time.

"And then I can remember coming out of school and remember seeing – I think it was about four o’clock, maybe just as we came out of school – the sky was covered with Horsa gliders, the sky was full of gliders going across I suppose. Yeah, I suppose we’re lucky to see all this really, but we didn’t realise just how serious it all was. But I can remember during the war, I don’t think we were ever worried about it as children. We never worried, I think we enjoyed it."

To read more memories of World War II, visit the New Forest Remembers portal.

This entry was posted by Matt Stroud on Monday 11/05/2015


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