Old Soldiers Never Die

It's just a few days since the nation came together once more to celebrate and honour the service given by others to the country. The 8th May 1945 was truly a joyous day , celebrating the end of World War 2 in Europe. It's difficult to imagine the relief that would have been felt and the realisation that many of the restrictions of war would now be at an end.

I love looking at footage and stills from that day. The exuberance is almost palpable; the bonfires, the music, the street parties and dancing, many of the participants, especially in London, being in uniform representing many nationalities. You may have family members who remember that day so try to record their memories as part of your family's history.

Of course for some, any celebrations were low key as they had lost loved ones during the conflict. For others, the relief was tempered with anxiety as the War was still ongoing in the middle and far east. Many still had loved ones fighting to bring the war with Japan to a close. Prisoners of war of the Japanese were suffering terribly. It would be another 2 months before their war finally ended. For many, the trauma of their experiences would last a life time.
My own father, seen on the left in this photograph, was in India until the end of 1946.

I wonder how people were feeling a few days after the celebrations.Was it an anticlimax? Perhaps the realisation of what was to come was starting to sink in.
The nation was in severe financial difficulty but there was so much to do, not least the rebuilding of our bomb damaged cities and towns.

Relationships would also need to be rebuilt. So many families had been separated for years; young children might not remember their father, or their mother if they had been evacuated. Although not known at the time, rationing would not totally end until 1954 and National Service would be introduced for able bodied young men in 1947.

The civilians back home, the 'home front', had stepped up massively during the War. But we should never forget that around 70,000 civilians died, largely as a result of enemy bombing. These people deserve to be honoured in the same way that we honour our military dead.      

So everyone deserved their day of celebration on 8th May 1945. As time passes, and more of those armed forces and civilians leave this life, their sacrifice will not be forgotten. They will still live on in the national consciousness.