Generations join forces at Wapping to remember 1945 and Victory in Europe
PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:34 12 May 2015
Young cadets and veterans of war gathered on the Thames waterfront by Tower Bridge to celebrate the end of the War in Europe 70 years on.
They joined up from all over London for the Big VE Day bash at HMS President naval base near the Tower of London.
And they did it in ‘1945 Victory Day’ style to mark the end of fighting in Europe seven decades ago.
It was a 1945 East End street-themed party at Wapping, once the scene of heavy bombing in air-raids, when the nearby St Katharine’s Docks were set ablaze at the height of the Blitz five years before final victory over Hitler’s Germany.
The event to mark the day the guns fell silent after nearly six years of war was organised by the Greater London Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association at the home of London’s Royal Naval Reserve Unit, HMS President, in St Katharine’s Way.
Cadets and veterans armed with their 1945 ‘ration book’ invitations joined 150 guests for a sunny day of wartime memories and stories to mark 70 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe.
The ‘party’ complete with air raid sirens, bunting, wartime-themed food and music from the 1940s was an opportunity for young and old to celebrate this historic turning point in Britain’s valiant history.
The only difference was the absence of food rationing, of course.
Corned beef and devilled eggs may have been on the menu, but the indoor street party organisers made sure guests enjoyed a modern fare of tender meats, roast potatoes, fresh salads and fruit juices—served up with military precision.
For everything else, it was back to 1945. We had stood up to Nazi tyranny, for a time alone, but now in Winston Churchill’s words, it was “Your victory,” the people’s victory.
Seventy years on, the words echoed as Londoners and people across the UK joined the celebrations.
At Wapping, older veterans who had served in the Armed Forces which defeated Nazi Germany joined forces this time with a new generation of cadets who inherit their military legacy.
Guests included the Lord-Lieutenant for Greater London, Sir David Brewer, the Queen’s representative, and Jeffrey Evans, Lord Mountevans of Chelsea who represented the Lord Mayor of the City of London.
Chelsea Pensioners from the Royal Hospital were among the VIPs, civic dignitaries from the City and Tower Hamlets and East End charities and organisations.
Some of the cadets from the Air Training Corps, Army Cadet Force, Fire Cadets, Girls’ Brigade, Girl Guiding, Sea Cadet Corps, St John’s Ambulance and Volunteer Police Cadets were taking part in 1940s-style uniforms, adding to the atmosphere their grandfathers and great-grandfathers would remember.
Louis Currie, 17, from Tower Hamlets Fire Cadets based at Millwall fire-station on the Isle of Dogs, said: “I’ve learnt so much and realise I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a lot of the people in this room—I’m going to be thankful every day!”
The young cadets got into the spirit of 1945 with relevant war-time memorabilia, but also shared information about their own modern-day organisations.
Army Reservists from the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal unit, who this year celebrate 75 years of Bomb Disposal, brought along wartime bomb relics as well as period and modern-day defusing equipment in a display of ‘search and disposal’ techniques.
Musical favourites were played by air cadets from 56F Woolwich Squadron and a combined Corps of Drums made a spectacular display—with Tower Bridge as a backcloth.
The 1940s street party ended with a musical set by Beatie Wolfe.
Lord-Lieutenant Sir David Brewer thanked the young cadets for being proud to show off their organisation—and for the veterans “who perhaps remember corned beef and devilled eggs the first time around!”