VE Day Poster 5 – VJ Day
Archives & Heritage Officer Philip Jeffs looks back at VE Day posters in the archives…
VE Day was not the end of Street parties for Warrington, many districts held a second party on VJ Day. The image here shows parties on Alder Lane and Longford Street in Orford, Pierpoint Street in Bewsey, and Barrymore Avenue in Latchford.
At midnight on 14th August Prime Minister Clement Atlee announced peace and Victory over Japan. Two days of public holiday were declared.
At 5 minutes past midnight on the morning of 15th, the people of Warrington began to celebrate. Newspapers record that a crowd of over 5000 had been awaiting the announcement in Town Centre.
By half past midnight an impromptu parade had started from Market Gate, passing around the roundabout and through the centre of town with warringtonians, American GIs and British servicemen “singing, laughing, dancing and cheering” their way through town.
At the American Air Depot in Burtonwood several bonfires were lit and large numbers of rockets and flares were fired into the night sky. Rapidly bonfires sprung up all across Warrington and music broke out throughout the Borough.
The actual day of the 15th was comparatively quiet excepting the large number of street parties set up for local children.
Residents ofJackson Avenue in Paddington treated children to sandwiches, jelly, trifle and ice-cream. The children then had a day of games and sports with every child receiving a prize. In the evening was singing and a cinematograph show of cartoons including the ever popular mickey mouse. The next day a great bonfire was held on which an effigy of General Tojo was burnt.
Many adults attended church services and the Mayor, Councillor Boulting, gave a speech to the crowds from the Town Hall steps paying tribute to those who had sacrificed their life and “those who carried the scars of war”. He then read a telegram the Council had sent to the King and Queen congratulating them on their victory.
That evening there was dancing on the Town Hall lawns, and as on VE Day the crowds were so numerous that the Examiner reports dancing soon became “almost an impossibility, but nobody seemed to mind the discomfort and there was much banter and fun”.
The impromptu parade from the early hours was recommenced in the evening as described here in the Examiner:
As the night wore on the centre of attraction was the island at Market Gate in its pretty floral dress and even prettier now with the specially erected illuminations shining down on it. Time after time a procession went round the island led by a “band” whose instruments comprised piano-accordions, tin cans, and even dustbin lids. Behind came hundreds of people young and old. The attention of the more boisterous element was attracted by a passing American jeep, and they rocked it so violently from side to side that it appeared in danger of overturning.
Interestingly alongside the articles describing street parties and bonfires in Warrington’s newspapers following VJ Day are articles such as “A-Bomb Protests” and “If A Bomb Dropped on Warrington”. Local journalists and clergymen discuss the rights and wrongs of dropping the atomic bomb on Japan and voice the danger that such technology now poses for mankind. After two World Wars in 30 years, the worries of what might happen in a third World War were ever present.
As mentioned in a few of the articles quoted above, American troops played a major part in the Wartime life of Warrington, and as such they were an important part of the celebrations at the end of the War. Our next poster looks at a few of the American celebrations.