Celebrations were held throughout the country after the unconditional surrender of Germany on 8th May 1945, ending the war in Europe. Although the war would continue in the Far East, Britain rejoiced at the news of peace in Europe. Local villages also celebrated the victory, and the Ripley & Heanor News published an article on 11th May 1945 regarding the festivities.
“THE WAR IN EUROPE IS OVER
RIDDINGS, SOMERCOTES, LEABROOKS – Riddings soon responded to the first news of victory in Europe. The streets were on Monday gay with flags and bunting. Early Tuesday morning before Mr Churchill’s broadcast to the nation every street in Somercotes, Leabrooks and Riddings was decorated.
Thanksgiving services were held in the evening at the Church of Christ, Riddings. Mr Alf Saxon read the lesson; Mr T Barker gave the address and Miss Jean Barker presided at the organ.
At the Congregational Church the Rev E C Moody conducted the services of thanksgiving.
St. James’ Church held a thanksgiving service on VE-Day, and Holy Matins and sung Eucharist on Wednesday morning.
Somercotes Salvation Army paraded in the evening on VE-Day to their citadel to hold thanksgiving service.
A united thanksgiving service was held at St. Thomas’ Church, Somercotes. The Rev. R J Bowyer BA, officiated and gave the address. Special thoughts and prayers were given to the service personnel still out in the Far East, and to those still suffering from the war in Europe. The collection was for the bombed out churches and chapels in England.
The Thanksgiving and Welcome Home Committee had previously arranged for everyone to have the “freedom of the city” and all halls in Somercotes by permission of their managements were thrown open free for dancing, games and community singing.
The Rev. R J Bowyer opened the entertainment at the Church Hall with a short prayer. Mr R Smith was MC for games and Miss Ann Field’s Band provided the music.
Mr Geo. Elliott (committee member of the Miner’s Welfare) conducted a thanksgiving service, and hymns were sung prior to the commencement of the evenings dancing at the Miner’s Welfare. At Leabrooks Labour Hall Coun J Clarke conducted the thanksgiving service. Games and dancing followed. The King’s speech was relayed into the hall and was received with great ovation. Hedley Beastall, returned prisoner of war was present.
LOWER SOMERCOTES – After the united service old and young joined in the celebrations at the Black Horse Clubroom. The dancing, games and community singing were preceded by a short service conducted by Mr S Barlow. Mr Rogers spoke of the gratitude they owed to the serving Forces and Mr Mountain expressed thanks for deliverance.
Bonfires were lit on pit hills, Greenhill Lane at Leabrooks and Somercotes Recreation Grounds and fireworks, skyrockets etc. all added to the revelry. Crowds continued community singing round the fires throughout the night.
Somercotes Salvation Army Band paraded to Riddings Park on Wednesday afternoon where a united thanksgiving service was held. The Rev. P Collier BA presided and the Rev. F Bass and the Rev. E C Moody conducted the prayers. Mr T Barker took the lesson and the Rev. M Dawes gave the address. After tea sports and games were enjoyed on the Park.”
Celebrations were also held in Alfreton, Swanwick, Pye Bridge, Codnor Park and Ironville. Today, it is difficult to appreciate the euphoria that was felt after five and a half years of war, or the closeness of the community that existed in the 1940’s.