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The Day Before Yesterday: 78 - Burning Hitler

...We had already celebrated the end of the European war in May, with large bonfires. Everyone burned Hitler, a straw stuffed image of him on every bonfire....

Gladys Schofield tells of austere times as the war in Europe comes to an end.

The war in Europe ended in May 1945 but the Japanese would not surrender and the casualties kept mounting upwards as they tried their fiendish ways to wipe out our lads.

The Atom bombs were dropped by America to end all this and it took two on different cities in Japan before they surrendered. It was a terrible way to end a war but at the time it seemed necessary.

We had already celebrated the end of the European war in May, with large bonfires. Everyone burned Hitler, a straw stuffed image of him on every bonfire.

Cliff got the night off. At this time he had been moved to a camp much nearer in South Yorkshire. We all had supper at one of the neighbour's houses and fireworks lit the sky throughout the night.

Demobbing the men back to civvy street was a very slow process. The first in were the first out and it would take another twelve months before Cliff was discharged.
Another of Cliff's brothers who had been in the Navy got married during this waiting period. He married a girl who lived in a district quite a distance from us.

Leave was much more relaxed now and with Reg back home we were able to go to the wedding. Reg fell in love with the sister of the bride and decided to find work where she lived. They too, were married the year after, so a !ot of changes were happening.

To keep the men busy while waiting for their turn to be demobbed, they taught them new trades. Cliff learned carpentry and made a step ladder. He did quite a good job too. We had it many years.

They also had to help to take care of the many prisoners scattered in camps up and down England. They were not sent back straight away as a lot of war trials were going on. Such terrible atrocities had been carried out in the prison camps, they were trying to find as many as possible accountable for these deeds.

Cliff found the prisoners quite easy to get on with. Most were like ours, just doing a job they had been trained for and were eager to start a new life.

Each man, when they came out of the forces got a full set of clothes and shoes and left their uniforms behind. Most of the firms had held their jobs open for them. Women had filled these places during the war and were now reluctant to give them up. They enjoyed their new found freedom and didn't want to be, 'the little woman at home' anymore.

England had given everything it owned to win this war, even the gold reserves. It was a very austerity country for a long time and rationing would iast many more years yet, up to the early fifties.

It wasn't long before Mother England started opening her doors to the many refugees who preferred to come to England, than settle once more in the countries they had had to flee from. The same was happening in my family. Charles came out of the forces with a girl on his arm. She was from down South somewhere. They soon married.

Ted decided he had not had enough of the Army and stayed a few years more. Brother John came safely from the Navy, a little deaf from the big guns but otherwise safe and Harold and my younger brother Alan, were still waiting for their release day.

Another building boom began to take shape in every town. 'A place fit for hero's' they said, first they built rows of pre-fabricated houses, supposed to last five years but they are still standing. Councils were busy making new estates and there was plenty of work for the looking.

Harold, my quiet, older brother, came home from the Air Force and slipped back into his job with hardly a ripple. We heard later he had been offered a commission while serving but had turned it down, so like my no fuss brother and Alan the youngest did the same. That at least would lift the worry from Mum's shoulders.


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