In Honor Of VE Day

Tomorrow, May 8th is VE Day. Victory in Europe day. It’s the 75th anniversary of it and whilst it may not be a big deal in America, it’s huge in England.

My daughters first birthday fell on the 50th anniversary. Tomorrow she turns 26 as the world acknowledges 75 years since the day Allied forces formally announced the surrender of Germany, which brought the Second World War to a close in Europe. There were still troops fighting and dying in the Middle East, my Grandad was one – but this was huge.

My Dad was just five years old. He didn’t know a day without war hanging over his head. He didn’t know his Dad at all. He told me a couple of years ago that he had some nebulous idea of ‘Daddy’ based on a children’s book he was given. He couldn’t reconcile my Grandad with ‘Daddy’ after the war as he assumed Dads were just in books. I actually found a copy of it for him and took it to him the last time I saw him. It’s one of the few times I ever saw my Dad cry.

He actually didn’t see his dad until he was eight years old. My Grandad was in Egypt and then after the war he was kept back to continue working there. He finally came home to get my Grandma and his kids and they all sailed to Egypt for a few years and then were posted to Germany. My dads whole childhood revolves around war and rebuilding after war. They didn’t come back to England to live until he was eighteen.

My Grandad lost his entire family to WW2. His parents had both succumbed to the Spanish Flu so he and his brother and sisters were brought up by their Grandparents. His grandparents and sisters all died during WW2 along with his younger brother, Sam, who died at Arnhem, not even out of his teens.

That’s my Grandad and his brothers and sisters with their Grandparents. It’s the only photo he had of any of them because everything was destroyed. He was the oldest of the four. What a heavy load it must have been to have no one left. It breaks my heart.

Tomorrow we celebrate and remember. I have such heartfelt thanks, not only for those who died but for those who had the strength to carry on. To find things to laugh about after such horror and death. To have the courage to love and risk loss again. To endure.

John 15: 13 tells us ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’

Honoring and acknowledging that gift is a debt we all owe.

*Top picture is my Grandad after the war in Germany. First row, right of center.

29 thoughts on “In Honor Of VE Day

    1. I know a very few words but they come mostly from when I had Shadi, my Saudi Arabian student living with us. I grew up with my families old camel saddles as seats in the conservatory and goodness knows how many scarabs and busts of Nefertiti! We all have a great love of Middle Eastern foods too – something I dearly miss is the fabulous selection of restaurants in England!

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  1. What an incredible history. Neither one of my grandfathers were in WWII. Maternal was too old at 33 when the war started for the US. Paternal grandfather was rejected…my dad said flat feet or something stupid (he became a firefighter). I did have two maternal great uncles in the war (a third brother had a heart condition) and one paternal great uncle that was a pilot. The pilot got injured and was returned stateside to recuperate. A nurse fell in love with him and kept his name off the rotation roster (a story told to me by my paternal grandmother). Her older sister’s husband (my great uncle by marriage) was in the Battle of the Bulge. He suffered permanent wounds from shrapnel and lost an eye. All of my great uncles were never the same after the war according to their sisters.

    It’s sad that your paternal grandfather lost so much and your dad was fatherless for eight years. I was nearly an Army brat as my dad almost went to Vietnam as a 2Lt. in 1967. Almost…

    Happy Birthday to your daughter. And, Happy VE Day.

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    1. Thank you! The histories of what people lived through in WW2 fascinate me. It’s so very personal. My mum was growing up in Ireland at the same time as my Dad and was almost unaware of the war. As the crow flies from Devon to Galway is less than 300 miles. If you drove and took a ferry it’s less than 500. It amazes me how different their childhoods were.

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      1. I had to look those two up to see where they were. I’ve heard of Galway. I’ve had Galway Bay Chowder at Trali’ in Raleigh…well, an American version of it, I guess.

        Just read about the bombing of Dublin…wow.

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      2. Galway is where my Mother was from, My dad was born in a small village called Gunnis Lake in Cornwall. After the war they lived in Tavistock in Devon where my Grandma had family until Grandad came home and then they all sailed to Port Said in Egypt. My Dad has the time of his life there! He terrorized his sisters and my grandma with keeping all sorts of lizards in his pockets, lunch box, you name it. Grandma would find him playing with scorpions and more than once he had live grenades in his pockets. His hearing was bad from when he was eight and was very close to a UXB when it detonated. It got worse and worse throughout his life and he’s been profoundly deaf for the last twenty years. I beg him for stories every time I’m home. He’s a fabulous raconteur and I don’t want to miss out on any of his tales!

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      3. I just Googled Gunnislake. Very pretty…River Tamar. Looked up Tavistock…River Tavy…neat stuff.

        Troublemaker, he was. LOL! And, I bet he has some tales.

        I know you miss “home”. Does your Mum still have people in Galway?

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      4. Yes. I have a plethora of cousins still living in various spots between Athenry and Tuam. My brother lives just up the road from the railway station where the Quiet Man was filmed. The line runs through his back garden. My Dad lives in the house my parents built on my Grandparents old farm. They knocked the old house because it was a huge radon risk. They have the ruins of an old castle in the field next to the house. It’s very cool

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      5. My Maternal grandfather was an extra in the big fight scene along with several other locals. They were filming and lads from the next village over saw their mates getting pasted so they waded in – REALLY fighting! It was six weeks before people recovered enough to recommence filming lol.

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  2. So much strength and we all have them to be thankful for. Lots of heroes came from that time. I can’t imagine what your grandfather went through. Great post, thank you for sharing and that photo is a treasure. Happy birthday to your daughter.

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    1. Thank you! It’s just so important to me to remember and share this. My dad is hitting 80, the ones who fought are all but gone. It falls to us to remember and acknowledge their sacrifices

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  3. Wow. Moving story. My great-grandfather served in Egypt, in the Royal Air Force. Another great-grandfather served in the Pacific, specifically in New Guinea, and was part of the occupying forces in Japan after the war (he was at one point at Hiroshima).
    World War II brought both my paternal grandparents & one of my maternal sets of great-grandparents together. My grandfather had a heart condition & couldn’t serve, so he worked on farms. My grandmother was a landgirl, and that’s how they met.
    My great-grandfather was a patient (a wounded soldier), my great-grandmother was his no-nonsense nurse who rebuffed all advances. Sounds like something out of a movie, to be honest.

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