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VE Day 1945 in the Papers

‘In both town and country, people managed to celebrate victory in the traditional manner!’

Villages and towns across Suffolk celebrated VE Day in many different ways.

One of the main ways we can find out how VE Day was marked in Suffolk is through newspaper articles from the time reporting on celebrations. Digital versions of many of these newspapers can be viewed on the British Newspaper Archive website.

Wallace Road, Ipswich. Street party to celebrate the end of the war. K681/1/262/1467

Click on a place name to read how they celebrated, or scroll down.

Bury St. Edmunds 
Debenham
Eye
Felixstowe
Framlingham
Haverhill
Ipswich
Lowestoft
Saxmundham
Sudbury
Saxmundham
Wickham Market
Woodbridge

Bury St. Edmunds

Reported in the Bury Free Press on 11th May 1945

Without waiting for Churchill’s proclamation at 3.00pm, flags began to flutter, crowds paraded the streets, and people celebrated the national holiday!

Bells rang out, people wore their Sunday best, soldiers were released early, joining in the revelry, and some wore red, white, and blue dresses, and even decorated their dogs and prams.

A united thanksgiving service attended by thousands including servicemen from the US, India, Africa, Belgium, and the Czech Republic was held at the Abbey Gardens on the afternoon of 8th May. The services emphasised the challenges yet to come and the sacrifices made.

In the evening the Mayor addressed a large crowd from the balcony of the Athenaeum, announcing the end of the war in Europe and thanking people for their service, but reminding them that the war with Japan was not yet over.

There was open-air dancing on Angel Hill with flood-lighting provided by a search light in addition to illuminations in the Abbey Gardens and Abbey Gate. Public houses closed early after running out.

Though there were no official bonfires, many were lit with one at St. Mary’s Hospital made of old wood and disused blackouts in the middle of which stood an effigy of Hitler.

There were street parties at which there was tea, dancing and singing while an American Army Jeep threw gum to the crowd and two Americans threw coppers into the road for children.

Debenham

Reported in Norfolk and Suffolk Journal and Diss Express, 18th May 1945

The vicar and a sergeant of the home guard climbed to the church roof and lashed a scaffold pole to the storm damaged flag-staff so that the church flag would fly during the celebrations.

VE Day commenced with a crowded service of thanksgiving at St. Mary’s Church where the vicar emphasised the remaining threat from Japan.

The service was followed by a large parade down the high street of the Home Guard, National Fire Service, Observer Core, Special Constabulary, Civil Defence Workers, Nursing Services, and Youth Organisations accompanied by a lively band.

Eye

Reported in Norfolk and Suffolk Journal and Diss Express, 11th May 1945

The town was bedecked with flags though there were no organised celebrations. An evening thanksgiving service was held at the parish church with a large collection for the Red Cross. The bells rang a peal and another one after the Prime Minister’s announcement. Night time saw fireworks at a nearby American aerodrome which lasted until early morning.

Felixstowe

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

A band marched through the street of town which were well decorated with flags. Services were held during the day, and sports for the children. In the evening music was played from loud speakers for dancing and singing, and the street lamps were switched on. The ships in the harbour sounded their horns and fireworks were let off into the sky.

Framlingham

Reported in Norfolk and Suffolk Journal and Diss Express, 18th May 1945

The town was decorated with flags and bunting, with church bells ringing out. A well attended thanksgiving service was held at St. Michael’s Church in the evening. Later there was dancing at the Anglo-American Club, with a large fair, fireworks, coloured lights, and merry making following on the Market Hill which along with the church clock and tower was flood lit.

Haverhill

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

Flags were hung from the church, the town hill and all of the large factories and buildings. Bunting hung down the streets, and a band paraded through the town. Thanksgiving services were full. Music, singing, and dancing went on until midnight.

Ipswich

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

There was a good crowd of people on the Cornhill, and crowds in the streets. A thanksgiving ceremony was held at St Mary Le Tower church. Dancing and singing continued into the night with rockets being fired into the sky.

Lowestoft

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

Despite the backout continuing bonfires were lite and lights set off into the sky. A service of thanks was given earlier in the day for both civilians and service people.

Thousands attended Thanksgiving for Service ceremony at the Denes Oval, sitting on the cliffs to watch.

Saxmundham

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

The town with decked out with flags, and children carried smaller flags as well. In a speech from the council the crowd was warned that now was not the time for joyous celebration, and that would come after victory over Japan. An evening ceremony was held in the church.

Sudbury

Reported in Suffolk and Essex Free Press, 10th May 1945

Shops were closed and the town bedecked with flags and bunting. Children carried flags, young people sported them on bicycles, and some young women wore them as sashes.

Over the town hall flew the Union Jack, US Stars and Stripes, Soviet Hammer and Sickle, French Tricolour, and the flag of the Chinese Republic. Some such flags were later seen decorating army lorries driving through town the next morning

Loud speakers were rigged up on the status of Gainsborough to broadcast Churchill’s 3.00pm speech, followed by a statement by the mayor and a short thanksgiving service at St. Peter’s Church.

In the afternoon there was music for dancing at Belle Vue and Market Hill followed by a 9.30pm bonfire on the croft. By midnight a general scene of fun and frolic, though American troops were confined to quarters

Wickham Market

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

Church services were well attended with groups such as the Girl Guides and Brownies, and the bells were rung. On the market square flags of the allied nations were hung on buildings. Dancing and fireworks were enjoyed until late with a bonfire lit near by.

Woodbridge

Reported in Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury, 11th May 1945

Bunting, flags and steamers decorated the town. Loud speakers played music on the Market hill and there was dancing and song until late. Someone ever let off some tear gas which caused a lot of discomfort. The church tower was flood lit all evening, and there was a bonfire on the Fen Meadow.

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