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Memory of an Unusual Celebration of VE Day

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posted on 2024-06-05, 18:17 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Some Memories of VE Day

After coming out of London at the beginning of the war and moving around a bit we finally moved into a large house overlooking the common in Dunsfold in May 1943. We were lucky in that we did not have any family serving in the forces. My father was too old to join up and the only relative we knew in the army had come through Dunkirk unscathed. It was quite an exciting time for us youngsters. Of course, we hardly remembered peace time, so everything was quite new for us.

The aerodrome at Dunsfold had been constructed by the Canadians in 1942 and was top secret. I have seen it described as England's forgotten aerodrome, but that was obviously before it was used by the BBC for filming Top Gear, but that's another story!

My particular memory of VE day was being woken by our mother in the small hours of May 8th 1945 and being taken to our top floor room to be shown the bonfire that had been built over several weeks by the 'Bonfire Boys' burning merrily! Mum said that as it's got set alight early we might as well watch it! Very clear in my memory was that she made us all a cup of tea and I believe we even had a biscuit each, pretty well unheard of, especially at 3 am. It later transpired that some Canadians had come down from the aerodrome and as part of their celebrations had set light to the Bonfire Boys pride and joy! You can only imagine the outcry from them and all the village the next morning. It could have been war, but all would be well. Very soon and all that day lorries were coming from the aerodrome with more and more rubbish and things to burn! Can't think where it all came from so fast but suffice it to say that the Canadian bonfire was ready to be the star of the celebrations that evening.

Everyone felt more kindly towards our friends from across the Atlantic (they had helped us win the war after all!). We never heard the details of what went on in the camp and whether any of the miscreants had been charged, but who cared? We had our bonfire and some of us living near the common had seen it twice.

We had been too young to join the procession but had never forgotten the tea and biscuits in the middle of the night.


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Hazel Freeston nee White

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Hazel Freeston (nee White)

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Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

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