This year marked the 75th anniversary of the formal surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allied Powers towards the end of World War II.
Many celebrations were planned, and even the usual May Day bank holiday had been moved to 8 May 2020 to ensure as many people as possible around the country could take part.
Unfortunately, as the coronavirus outbreak continued to sweep across the country, social distancing measures and the nationwide lockdown caused many events to be cancelled, including some across the parish.
Lawley and Overdale Parish Council still wanted to do something to honour the veterans who fought for Britain in WW2, however. We promoted street parties, the Toast the Nation’s Heroes event, and encouraged people to decorate their homes. We also created activity packs for families.
Many of you decorated your homes for VE Day. We’ve pinned some of our favourite photos onto our Victory Board!
Tributes to veterans
We collected your personal messages of tribute to the soldiers who fought in the war, which are published below.
Thank you. Words that are not enough, but are sincere and from deep inside my heart. You are amazing xxx
– Tribute by Anonymous
Following Churchill declaring, ‘We are at war with Germany’, Tom enlisted in the Royal Navy on 29th August 1940 and served in active combat for the duration of the war.
War records show; Tom was sent to Kabret Egypt and trained in wireless telegraphy and operation of Landing Crafts prior to operations in the Mediterranean. His Landing Craft experience was needed by the 3 Commando Special Service Brigade, a lightly equipped assault infantry with specialist radio equipment skilled in spear heading amphibious landings. Winston Churchill wanted specially trained troops that would, ‘develop a reign of terror down the enemy coast’.
Tom experienced combat in the heinous battle of Tobruk from 9th September 1941 to 15th January 1942, the bloodiest WW2 conflict.
Before VE Day- Tom had served with The Royal Navy in; Braganza Bombay, Mandapan Bombay, El Alamein, Italy, North Africa, Bengal, Burma, Crete and the Royal Navy Landing Craft operation supporting British troops in the liberation of Belson.
Records show Tom was ‘released to shore’ 02/01/1946. To some troops still active in the Pacific the VE Day celebrations on 8th May 1945 must have felt premature.
Toms discharge papers state him as ‘Able Seaman’.
The euphoria of VE Day engulfed Britain. We listened as Mother reminisced how strangers banged on doors calling for everyone to join in. She climbed out of the bedroom window because her mother was afraid to open the door. A conga line of laughing, cheering people twirled and twisted from Beverley, Oakengates through Ketley to Cock Hotel and back. Mothers eyes sparkled with tears of joyous memory as she told of the night Britain danced.
There is another story post war shared by thousands. The following is of one Lawley Bank family.
The legacy of Dads war time experiences impact on our lives to this day. As children we had little understanding of why dad, ‘talked to himself’.
We carry haunting memories of Mother struggling to cope whilst dad was locked within a traumatised, broken mind.
The attitude towards mental illness at that time was broadly, ‘to grin and bear it’. Common treatment for sufferers of war trauma was, to subject them to barbaric electric shock procedures without anaesthetic. My little brother and I accompanied Dad & Mother to appointments, we sat on bare wooden benches waiting. The sounds of his screams emitting from behind the door never go away. Confused and scared, we saw the pain and fear on Mothers face, no one told the children what was happening.
Many years later we learn how our Dad had saved his mates from dying in icy seas after their ship was torpedoed, there was no recognition of his bravery as he was immediately despatched to another vessel which also suffered the same fate.
We learned how he and two other ratings survived nine months lost in the Burma Jungle. After being helped by local inhabitants they were eventually rescued by the RAF.
Physically strong, Dad worked ‘when he could’ at Hulse’s Iron foundry in Hinkshay Dawley.
It was in the garden Dad found solace, working with nature, growing fruit and veg and nurturing his prize dahlias brought a sense of calm to his tormented mind.
Dad died 2nd March 1973 aged 56, still fighting his WWII demons.
Today I tell our grandchildren about their Great Grandad Tom, show them photographs and remember his beautiful garden.
The brave men and women from Lawley Bank and beyond who have sacrificed their hearts and minds for us are all heroes.
In the 1950’s my brother and I started Lawley Primary School with the firm belief everyone’s’ Dad had been to this place called ‘War’; we left our school days behind with a different reality.
The world is united in negotiating a pathway through these deeply troubling times.
We hold faith that science will evolve at speed to save our planet.
Good mental health is the strongest armoury we have to save ourselves.
Asking for help is not the shameful scourge it once was, reaching out is the first step.
– Tribute by Carol