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The VE Day Street Party

by Dunstable Town Centre

Contributed by 
Dunstable Town Centre
People in story: 
A W Morgan
Location of story: 
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Civilian
Article ID: 
A3917072
Contributed on: 
19 April 2005

Edward Street, Dunstable, VE Day Tea Party - May 1945. Author, Mr A W Morgan is pictured on the right, just above the head of the Reverand (back to camera).

This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Dunstable At War Team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

We had heard on the radio that a cease-fire was imminent and that church bells would be rung to celebrate. My friends and I were playing football on the Grammar School Sports-field when we heard the bells ringing at the Priory Church. Everyone was really pleased and a few days later we had a street party.

My mother helped to organise it in Edward Street - held outside the Congregational Church. The church had a supply of trestle tables as well as cutlery and crockery.

When the Territorials departed from their drill hall in1939, my father arranged for some items, which included flags and bunting to be stored at our house. These were retrieved and the street was decorated; everyone who had a flag of some sort suspended it from their upstairs window. The street looked really colourful.

Getting sufficient foodstuffs for the party was a big problem so my mother and other neighbours went from door to door asking for contributions. At one house they struck gold! It was occupied by “The Hospitality Ladies” as they were known when mentioned in front of us children. They gave a large tin of corned beef, a keg of butter and some large tins of fruit. The food was all marked with U.S. Army labels! Years later I was told by my mother that when some of the more “straight-laced” members of the “tea committee”, including the maiden ladies (who objected to saving tins for salvage), heard of this gift they said that it could not be accepted as those foodstuffs were “the wages of sin”.

My mother and others said that we children did not know about such things and we should be allowed to enjoy a good meal. Both bakers in the street donated bread and cakes and the meal was prepared. The Reverend Charles Eastwood, a former minister of the Congregational Church who lived in Edward Street presided over the party and gave thanks for the end of the war in Europe before saying “Grace”. There was a photographer present and most of those present eventually got copies. This photograph appears in the book “Dunstable in Camera”.

We heard that my father was returning from India and about the same time, I had a form from school about having another try at the 11+ examination. My mother sent this off and shortly afterwards I went to Luton Technical College to sit the exam. My father came home and on the day before the term ended, we received notice that I had won a place at Dunstable Grammar School. My father was pleased and bought me a bicycle from Halford’s in Luton.

During the summer holidays, the war with Japan ended and there was another party but somehow the great “Euphoria” of V.E. Day was not there. In due course I started at the Grammar School and the post war period with even more stringent rationing began.

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

End of War 1945 Category
Bedfordshire Category
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