A Warwick War Diary: VE Day

VE Day celebrations in Lillington, 1945.
Photo courtesy of the Lillington Local History Collection.

Notes on life in Warwick during the Second World War, made by Miss Nora Slater from her own diaries.


The year opened cold with snow in January and February, but with good news from the European war front, Warwick people felt the end of the war was near. A siren in the early hours of March 3rd proved to be the last. A bomber exploded at 6am but I heard nothing, sleeping well after a busy spring cleaning at home. Church activities continued. On Palm Sunday a Passion Play was enacted at All Saints’ Church and on Easter Sunday as in other Warwick churches there was a crowd at the morning service.

News in April included the liberation of the Concentration Camp Oflag 79, the capture of Arnheim after a long siege and the end of the resistance of the Ruhr, then the Russian entry of Berlin and the meeting of the Russians and Americans.

From 29th April until May 7th special editions of a daily newspaper appeared, often only single sheets, as news from the war front accelerated.

A memorable May week

The infamous broadcaster Haw-Haw was taken over by the BBC on May 4th. This was a memorable May week, ending on Rogation Sunday at All Saints’ when the morning service was attended by the Mayor and Corporation and at 3pm the Bishop of Coventry attended with choirs from other churches. Tea was afterwards served in the church hall. Next day we heard that a son, to be named Nigel, had been born to the Vicar, Rev. DLE Saburton.

With the news that hostilities had ceased on May 7th school closed. Churches held special services of thanks on the 8th and All Saints’ Church was crowded with all lights on. A bonfire was lit outside the church, material for which had been collecting all the week. Nurse Prendigast, who was not on duty that night, accompanied me into town to see St. Mary’s tower floodlit, returning home at midnight through a world of light as windows in every house were lit up. Next night at 10:30 was a show of big flashes and bangs on the park which attracted the crowds.

School re-opened on Thursday 10th but it was obvious that everyone was tired.

A series of street parties

Then began a series of street parties at the weekends. From East to West preparation culminated in flags and streamers across the streets, tables were laid with food down the centre of the road and dancing continued late. It was on Saturday 19th that Avon Street held one of the largest parties in the town, incorporating the narrow near-by streets of Pickard Street and Meadow Row, Pickard Row. I lay in bed listening until midnight to the music of a band and the sounds of an obviously very jolly party.

May 22nd saw the departure of our last two nurses, both returned home to Ireland. This was Whit week, which proved to be a wonderful week’s holiday, when life seemed to return to normal.

Notes reproduced courtesy of the Warwickshire County Record Office. Reference Z0789(SM)

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