Monday, February 15, 2016

VE Day

After what had been an unusually cold, snowy winter on Vancouver Island, we were finally having nice spring weather.   I remember one winter day having heavy, moist snow that was perfect for making a snowman.  All the kids started rolling a ball of snow, and it kept getting bigger and bigger and blocked Walema Drive.  It was so big my father couldn't drive past it,  so had to get out of the car and help us roll it to the side of the road.

One day, there was a big announcement at Keating School.  We were told there would be a special event for our families and we could bring a younger sibling to school.  Much like the popular "Take your child to work with you day," of more modern times, this was quite a unique idea.  When I went home and told my family about the
Walking along Walema Dr. to Cordova Bay Rd.
to catch the school bus, 1945
announcement,  Bill, who was almost five,  was excited and could hardly wait.   He would get to go to school with his big sister.  When the big  day arrived, Bill and I headed up Walema Drive to catch the school bus on Cordova Bay Road.  Bill thought this was great, to be going on the school bus just like the older kids.  We both waved goodbye to Mother, who stood holding one year old Alan, and off we went.  At school, Bill sat at the desk beside  me, but the seats were not very wide and he remembers that he kept falling off the side.   At recess we both went out to play and joined up with the other children who had also brought siblings. It must have been a hectic day for the teachers, but for the students, it was a wonderful day and we returned home with lots of stories to share and memories that have lasted a lifetime.   It seems to have been one of those once only events though, as I have never heard of it happening again.

Major changes were happening in the world.  In April 1945 the President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died and Vice President Harry S. Truman took office.  We listened to the broadcast of Roosevelt's funeral on the radio.

A month later on May 8, 1945, VE Day, victory in Europe and  Adolph Hitler was dead.  What had started in 1939 had finally ended.   We heard the celebrations and jubilation on the radio, but for us there was still a war in the Pacific as Japan continued its aggression.  Nightmares about the war were often a problem for children, and I was no exception. Someone had taken me to a war movie a year or two earlier and this movie contributed to my anxiety for a long time.

From the archives of the Royal BC Museum, :  Victoria celebrates the Victory in Europe (May 8, 1945) | Staff Profiles

In June 1945 my father received the military  honour of being "Mentioned in Despatches" and received the distinctive oak leaf pin to wear on his uniform.  The award was accompanied by this statement:

This non-commissioned officer has at all times carried out his difficult tasks in a highly efficient and exemplary manner. There were periods when very difficult situations arose and he has always surmounted these difficulties in a very commendable manner.  Arduous tasks and long hours have never dampened this non-commissioned officer's enthusiasm and he has been a great credit to his station.