Luke Hookham (5th Form) has contributed the memories of his great-grandmother, Patricia Wilds and other members of his family.

 

I was living in a rented house with my mum, mad, brother Dennis and sister Josy (born 1942). On VE day, I was just 7 years old. I can remember the street parties, when everyone brought their tables and chairs outside, and all the children in the street sat down to a wonderful party. We had jelly and homemade cakes. Everyone was very happy, singing, dancing and being excited. We also had a bonfire.

During the war years I went to C/E School ‘Hague St’. I can remember going to school very early in the blackout. When all the outside lights were turned off, we had to stay at school until our mum came for us when she finished work at the factory, making munitions for the War. My dad worked at the AVRO Aircraft facility, making the famous Lancaster Bombers. He wanted to join the forces but the government said he was needed at AVRO and would not allow him to leave. Because we lived in an industrial area, just 3 miles from Manchester city centre, there was a lot of bomb damage by the Luftwaffe. AVRO was a prime target, so my Dad was always at risk.

I remember the Air Raid Siren, gas masks which were awful to wear and Narrage Balloons, to stop the German planes flying low and hitting their targets. Air raid shelters which you were expected to go into when the siren went off. We had our own shelter in the backyard of our house, but my mum didn’t like going inside, so we went under the stairs in our house. Food, clothes, sweets and coal were all on ration, and in short supply. We all had ration books, which you had to take to the shops. There was always a queue to get all of the above and you had to be patient. Us children had a great time playing in all the bombed out buildings, which of course were also very dangerous; there was no health and safety then. After the war, life seemed less frantic. Children’s dads returned from fighting for their country, but many also did not return and died in battle. The council was very involved in cleaning the many bomb damaged buildings, which took many years. Our family was given a new house, near Manchester Airport. We had for the first time, a bathroom and a garden, we all thought we were in heaven.”

My great-grandad, Rodger Wilds, still has the letter he received from King George VI in 1946, which thanked the children, recognising the part the played in the war.

 

My great-nanna’s (Margaret Campion) family were all in various places during the war. Her father, Edward Howes (pictured below), served in the Transport Coy, Royal Army Service Corps. He was posted to Africa with the 8th Army, and then was promptly moved to Italy, where he stayed for 4 and a half years, after which he was sent home. It is most likely that he spent VE day with his family. One of my great-nanna’s brothers, Cyril Howes, was serving in Burma with the 1st Battalion Queens Royal Regiment, where he took part in their last battle there, the Battle for Irrawaddy. He actually spent VE day in Burma and was discharged an entire two years later in 1947.

 

One of her other brothers, Horace Howes, served with the BEF (British Expeditionary Force), taking part in the Battle of France and the retreat from Dunkirk. When his small mobile force, Hartforce, was advanced on by a German force, Horace was unfortunately killed in action.

This is a picture of my great-gran’s (Stella Hookham) family celebrating in Swavesey on VE Day, with their neighbours. She wasn’t in this photo because at the time she was still in the Land Army in Northampton. Unfortunately, we don’t know how she celebrated the occasion.

 

Below are some pictures of her time in the Land Army:

 

My grandfather, Derick Hookham (pictured below), was still serving in India during VE day. He married Stella shortly after he returned in 1947. Below is his Pay and Service Book, which shows that he completed his service for his country on the 19th May 1945, but it still took him 18 months to return home from India.

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