VE  Day

VE Day
Bodmin Town Museum

By: Marion Adams
Added: 08 May 2020

What happened in Bodmin on VE Day ?

May 8th 1945, Bodmin, Cornwall - VE day – notes from the Guardian of May 10th 1945:

“The County Town’s Celebrations” “Thousands take part” “Isn’t it grand to think it’s over!” were the headlines!

 During the first week of May, the whole country was busily preparing itself for the long awaited news that the War in Europe was officially over. Bodmin Town Council had made plans on how they should celebrate VE Day. A Victory Queen was chosen together with two maids of honour. This took place on the Coldharbour Cricket Field. During 7th May a Victory Arch was erected from the edge of the pavement at the foot of Mount Folly steps stretching across the street to Northey’s Chemist shop.

‘During the Monday evening (7th) things began to liven up with happy noisy celebrating groups near the Turret Clock. The volume of rejoicing grew in steady crescendo until towards midnight triumphant young voices could be heard singing “..Britons never ...shall be slaves..” 

Next day, children were freed from school and filled the streets with happy sound. People rushed around finding food before the shops closed so staff could join in the celebrations. By mid-morning the main streets had been decorated; music came from loudspeakers on a car roof; young men and women of the Services and pedestrians walked through the town; the Parish bells rang all afternoon and evening.’

Children rode brightly decorated bicycles, which had been hastily festooned with fancy coloured paper or ribbons. The Mayor, Alderman H G Kinsman, together with members of his council, gathered at the Guildhall, and walked in procession to the Victory Arch, to pose for a group photograph to commemorate the occasion.

After the Prime Minister’s official announcement, in less than an hour the YMCA, which was situated on Mount Folly, was turned into an open house for the Services.

‘The YMCA opened for free refreshments from 3.15pm to 11pm. Estimates of 4000 drinks, 5000 sandwiches, cakes, 50lbs of biscuits distributed. It was an open house with community singing, wireless news, thanksgiving service with voluntary staff and members of the forces.

A thanksgiving service was held in the Parish Church at six o’clock, and services were also held in the other churches and chapels.’

At 9pm the King, George VI gave a speech.

‘The King’s speech was relayed to the crowd on Mount Folly. Bodmin Town Band,  playing the Flora Dance, tried to march through the crowds up to Town Wall then on to the Asylum clock and there was no way of distinguishing  between dancers and spectators – Fore Street became one ‘bobbing animated mass of people’.

Back on Mount Folly, now floodlit, the band continued playing and the sound was punctuated by ‘fireworks’ let off by the troops.’

Celebrations were curtailed when the rain arrived; the Band dispersed, as did most of the spectators. Only a few soldiers and songsters remained to conclude the celebrations on VE Day.

Next day, sports were provided for the children at the Fair Park (Westheath).

The following Sunday a United Thanksgiving Service was held in the Priory Grounds. Members of the Town Council, the Forces and local organisations such as the Cubs, Brownies, Scouts, Guides, St John’s Ambulance, all assembled. They then all marched along Pool Street, Burnards Lane (now Dennison Road), into Lower Bore Street, where the Mayor took the salute outside the Library.

Note:

There is a new display in the Museum created for the 8th May which will remain until the Museum opens again. 

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