World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                         Betty Malone 

V.E. Day

By Actiondesk Sheffield

People in story: Mary Isaacs and Betty Malone
Location of story: Torquay
Background to story: Royal Air Force


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Mary Isaacs and Betty Malone.

On May the 7th and 8th, 1945, I was on holiday in Torquay with my parents. I had become friendly with Betty, a pretty girl who was also on holiday with her parents and staying in the same hotel. Our stay was considerably enlivened by Sandy and Bill, two Canadian Air Force Officers who were stationed nearby. When the news came in about the German surrender, we found it difficult to believe. We tried to celebrate but all the pubs were packed to bursting and the only drinks we could get were pint glasses of cider, so we sat with them on the pavement outside the nearest pub. Betty and I wore the hats and tunics belonging to Sandy and Bill, and they wore our scarves. We had a frivolous conversation, but none of us seemed to want to talk about the future. It was an odd sensation, as if the war had done our thinking for us.

The next morning was the beginning of repatriation for some of the overseas troops. A small crowd of civilians gathered at the station to say goodbye. It was very late, very dark and oddly subdued. The Canadian Air Force Band was on the platform, playing music, which had become part of the war. Then at midnight, the boys arrived in army vehicles and the band struck up with ‘Sentimental Journey.” The crowd gave a cheer, and then stood silent whilst the Canadians boarded the train. We waved at Sandy and Bill; there was another cheer as the carriage doors slammed, then a whistle from the guard, and they were gone.

It was an occasion of tremendous mass emotion such as I had never before experienced. Many people, men as well as women wept openly. That was probably due to people remembering loved ones who would not be returning home.