Roger’s Story

Roger Wheatley

How old were you on VE day?
I was 7 years old.

What can you remember about it?
I can remember a few main things: the local council organised a victory parade with floats etc. Although I was only young at the time, I remember it quite well, ending in a bonfire and fireworks on Midsummer common. The road was closed so that everyone could bring out their tables and chairs onto the road. Just before the wartime, my father bought a TV, it was an 8inch screen, black and white only. We watched the first ever BBC broadcast on it and on VE day all the neighbours were round to watch the celebrations in London.

What was the difference before and after VE day?
It was a sense of freedom similar to what it will be like hopefully when these (covid19) restrictions are over. In the wartime everything was restricted: visiting friends etc. It united the country similar to how it has today, there was a great sense of community. My Dad built an air-raid shelter in our garden, for us and the neighbours, and I slept in it most nights it felt more like my bedroom than my bedroom.

You were at school here, you hadn’t been evacuated; did you know anyone who was?
I didn’t know anybody that was evacuated.

Is there anything else you can to tell us?
I was told stories of POW camps that I won’t repeat to you. I also remember a strong anti-German attitude. The school I was at had prepared procedures too- ducking and covering under the desks in case of a raid.

During the wartime every adult and child was issued with a ration book. It included things like one pack of butter. I hadn’t even eaten ice cream until after the war! Petrol was also limited, so people weren’t going places because they wouldn’t have enough. Soon after V.E. day, restrictions were being eased off which was one of the best things (that changed). I only visited the seaside for the first time, age 8. When V.E day happened, it was a sign that things were getting better.