This month we are remembering that 75 years ago our towns and villages were celebrating Victory in Europe, now known as VE Day.

It meant an end to nearly six years of war that had cost millions of lives, destroyed homes, towns and cities, and brought suffering to the populations of many countries across Europe.

It was another three months before the war would end in the east when Japan surrendered on 15 August. WWII had finally ended.

On May 7, 1945 the BBC stopped its scheduled programming to announce the surrender of Germany and that a national holiday, known as Victory in Europe Day, would be held the following day.

Rumours had been rife for some days that Germany was about to surrender, so the country was not entirely unprepared to celebrate the event. VE Day saw millions rejoicing in the streets across the UK.

In London, the Royal Family greeted crowds amassed around Buckingham Palace. The Bucks Free Press (BFP) reported that in Wycombe and the surrounding villages “Cheering crowds, music and dancing, gay decorations, fireworks and bonfires - these were but a few of the manifestations of joy on Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945”.

In the town itself “floodlighting was one of the outstanding features. Long shafts of light enriched the bright and profuse decorations on the municipal buildings and the Guildhall, and in picturesque contrast was the illumination of the tall and imposing church tower, from which the flag of St George proudly rippled in the breeze”.

The BFP continued “Throughout the morning [of May 8 VE Day] people were busy putting the finishing touches to their decorations.

By early afternoon they were congregating in the streets talking happily in groups, and by evening every main street was crowded with excited and happy men, women and children.

In the afternoon the biggest crowds congregated on the Rye and Desborough recreation ground, where concerts were given by bands belonging to the borough and the people joined in singing popular choruses.

In the evening things really started to go gay. Easton St provided a special celebration with one of the happiest free-for-all parties.

A few couples began dancing in the street and on the footpath to music from a nearby house.

The number of couples increased as the number of musicians increased and soon all members of a dance band were setting the pace and rhythm to this happy impromptu entertainment interspersed with a display of brightly-coloured fireworks.

The whole scene was brightly lighted (sic) from the shops nearby and fairy lamps, and now and then a catherine wheel or a cracker whizzed across the street in a trail of light. On the Rye a crowd of people danced to music of their own making.

In all parts of the town groups of people were singing happily, skipping along in ‘crocodiles’ and dancing whenever they felt so disposed. Throughout, the crowd was very good-humoured, very orderly - and very happy.

Many people were content to sit on the walls of the floodlight Municipal Offices and the Library, and watch the ever-changing scene of the festivities and the fireworks which continually burst into the sky. Others jumped onto passing cars and rode through the streets singing lustily”.

Street parties were organised for children in many locations in the town, and the villages around.

For example in White Close, between the West Wycombe Road and Downley, the BFP reported “The spirit of VE Day rejoicings was typified in one of High Wycombe’s newer communities, White Close, when on Wednesday a tea party was given by the parents. Tables and chairs were arranged [in the road].

The afternoon proceedings opened with a short service led by Pastor Caten, in which parents and absent friends in the Forces were remembered.

After an enjoyable tea, the good things left over were sold by auction, [the proceeds] for the Red Cross realising £3.10s. The parents were then entertained by the younger folk to a delightful concert. Then followed races for all, with prizes for all. Refreshments were then provided, and the proceedings closed with community singing and dancing.”

Among other locations where street parties and the like were celebrated and reported in the BFP were Cressex, where over 600 people took part at the Turnpike, Hazlemere, Penn and Tylers Green, Wooburn, Totteridge, Sands and Booker.

For High Wycombe the “crowning glory” (literally) of the V E celebrations took place on Friday May 11. The town was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

Under the heading The Royal Visit: A Tumultuous Welcome, the BFP reported the following Friday “A brief announcement which appeared in the national daily newspapers on Friday morning was of two-fold significance to High Wycombe.

It made known that their Majesties the King and Queen intended to that day pay a visit to the United States Eighth Air Force, and it revealed a well guarded secret that the headquarters of this mighty striking force were at High Wycombe.”

The report continued: “Naturally the borough was elated at the prospect of being able to add to its Victory in Europe celebrations a spontaneous and joyful welcome to the King and Queen who, through the long years of war had set an inspiring example of steadfastness, courage and duty under most trying and exacting circumstances.

Quickly every household and every school was aware that on their way their Majesties must drive through some of the principal streets of the town, and long before the appointed time of their arrival crowds thronged the pavements, and leaned from of buildings gay with V E decorations.

For nearly three miles on one side of the long main road from London, school children from town and village schools assembled.

There was scarcely a place between Loudwater and the Marsh to the centre of High Wycombe that was not filled with excited youngsters, flags in hand, eager to see and to cheer the Royal visitors.”

Were you one of these “excited youngsters” waiting to cheer the King and Queen, or perhaps you have some other memory of their visit just after VE Day, or indeed about any of the celebrations at that time?

If so, we would love to hear from you: contact Mike Dewey on 01628 525207 or email him