Victory in Europe Day

What is VE Day?
On 7 May 1945 the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces, so ending six years of war in Europe that had cost the lives of millions, flattened homes and destroyed cities.

The next day was one that remained in the memory of all those who witnessed it as celebrations broke out all over the world to mark Victory in Europe Day or VE Day.  The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, marked the occasion by declaring the following day to be a public holiday.

People held parties, danced and sang in the streets as huge crowds gathered in London on Whitehall to hear Churchill speak, and outside Buckingham Palace where King George VI and the Royal Family appeared on the balcony.

Knapton celebrated with a Barn Dance held in the big thatched barn at Church Farm which was then owned by Mr Norman May, the grandfather of Steve Hammond, the current owner.   The barn was decorated with flowers and the event was much appreciated by all who attended the event.

When the men and women, who had been on active service, returned to the village a social was held in what is now known as the Village Hall.

The invitation read;

WELCOME HOME
The people of Knapton invite you and your family to a Social in
KNAPTON PARISH ROOMS
at 7 o’ clock on Saturday 8th June 1946

Some notes from Richard Wild recalling some of the events he was told about the village during the war.

A few of the women in the village joined the Land Army and worked on local farms whilst others worked in ammunition factories.  The women who stayed at home were busy knitting for the troops, making jams and preserves and collecting salvage.

Some of the men joined the Home Guard and exercised with other local villages whilst some became Air Raid Wardens going around the village making sure the households had their windows blacked out. Knapton was a farming village and the farmers and farm workers worked hard to produce the food which was needed for the country.    Later in the war there were German and Italian Prisoners of War working on the farms at the grain and potato harvest times.

Troops were billeted in nearby villages, the nearest being Swafield Hall.  Pigney’s Farm was used for training and the village school used for housing troops on manoeuvres.   The American Air Force were station nearby and on Thanksgiving Days came to the school to give a talk about their country.  The highlight of their visit was the chocolate and sweets which were given out before they returned to their base.

Some evacuees came to Knapton in 1939, mostly from the London area, but most went back home when it was safe to do so.

Knapton got off lightly with the odd bomb falling in open fields.   An aircraft crashed in 1943 at the end of White House Farm Loke.   The crew were killed.

Anti-Aircraft guns were located behind the school but how often they were used Richard doesn’t know.

Alison Glaze
Knapton History  Club

In the current circumstances, due to the COVID-19 virus, the people of Knapton have shown us that the British spirit is still alive with neighbours helping neighbours,
our Knapton Angels and our Thursday 8.00pm appreciation of the NHS and all our Key Workers.

Long may it last

Knapton War Memorial

Three parishioners lost their lives in the Second World War and they are remembered on the War Memorial in the churchyard of St Peter & St Pauls.

Rifleman Sydney E Woolsey

Corporal Frederick Watts

Flying Officer Thomas Reader Russell Wood

We have a page dedicated to this memorial where you can learn more about these three brave souls who gave their lives for us.

click here to go to our Lest We Forget page

Who were the women in the Trafalgar Square fountains on VE Day?

It’s an iconic photograph… one that has been used across the world to highlight the celebrations on VE Day to mark the end of the Second World War in Europe.

But there’s always been one big question surrounding this particular image…
what was the story behind those two women smiling for the camera in the Trafalgar Square fountains on 8 May 1945?

VE Day in pictures…

… and video