Memories of Exeter
Bombing in 1942 and VE Day 1945
by Jean Creasy

As a young man in 1914 my father fought in the Salonika campaign and then in France, returning to a Europe ravaged by the flu epidemic in which his mother - as well as hundreds of other civilians - had died.

He was too old to see military service in 1939, but of course signed up to serve as an air raid warden and fire watcher in the city of Exeter where we then lived. With other brave volunteers he patrolled the roofs and streets during bombing raids.

Father was on duty in the city centre the night our home was destroyed and he returned to find his house a pile of rubble with his wife and two daughters and several neighbours beneath it.

Morrison Kitchen Table Shelter

So the actual announcement of VE Day - the speeches, the crowds, the razzmatazz, London, the Prime Minister, the royal family - came later for us, and many other good folk, once we had found accommodation and refurnished - in a very ad hoc way! - with borrowed and donated goods.

On that actual VE day we had driven to have tea with some dear friends who lived at Starcross, the village on the Exe estuary. Their home overlooked the tiny Cockwood harbour.

The tide was in and the boats bobbed about in front of the South West Railway line as it trundles down towards Plymouth. Beyond was the expanse of the estuary with - oh joy - the lights of Exmouth reflected in the water. Lights - shining at night - no more blackouts, no more raids.

My father was not a demonstrative man but his arm went round my mother and they both wept just a little tear and a Thank God.

- o O o -

Thoughts about VE Day 2020
While In Covid-19 Lockdown
by Jean Creasy

I am one of the vulnerable lot - I do not have a computer or IT - and I gave up driving a couple of months ago as I didn't feel absolutely safe all the time. Our reactions to VE day 75 years ago were joyful relief and longing for the resumption of our peaceful lives, physically rebuilding shattered cities, and, with the aid of new technology, forging links of friendship with every part of the universe.

But the present unhealthy state of the world has prevented that dream - or has it? Think of our own community as a microcosm of the world. More people are smiling at each other, it's quieter in the skies and on the roads, more regular exercise and time with your children, more people offer help, stronger links can be made across vast physical divides, more people share their expertise.

Yes, of course, some people think only of personal gain, but many think of the Very End.

See more of Jean's photos