It was the day for which British people had fought and endured five years, eight months and four days of war.
It was 70 years ago tomorrow and it was VE Day, and as the Daily Mirror reported, ‘It’s over in the West’.
The people who fought are growing fewer with each passing year, but many of their records and letters, their faces and the artefacts of war are preserved in collections, such as that belonging to Chris Chandler.
Chris, of Spalding, says his greatest frustration is he wishes some of the pieces in his collection – estimated at around 21,500 pieces – could talk.
He says: “I don’t know who they were, what they were like or if they are still alive.”
Among the collection is his pride and joy, a silver cigarette case which belonged to an American airman who was shot down over Germany and became a prisoner of war. His German guard took it off him and, when the Berlin Wall came down, the case was sold on to Chris.
There are the items with local connections, such as the picture of the Spitfire the people of Boston raised money to buy, the British Airborne troops based at Spalding Grammar School, a rare Lincolnshire Home Guard uniform bearing the Lincoln Imp.
There is the photograph, medals, love letters and paybook of Richard Maddison, who once lived in Knight Street in Pinchbeck, sold to Chris by Richard’s son.
Chris says: “To be honest I think medals should stay with the families, but it’s so sad because they do sometimes get thrown away and I prefer to buy them because of the history.”
Chris also has VE Day memorabilia, such as the original Daily Mirror with the day’s report, the V for Victory badge made by his RAF grandfather for his grandmother, and a fascinating collection of pieces relating to former Daily Herald war correspondent Clifford Webb.
Chris says the plucky war correspondent, and a favourite with Monty, was actually present at the surrender.
Chris says: “Sadly, what people forget is that was victory in Europe but the Japanese war went on for a further three months.
“Everyone should have their flags up on VE Day as it’s an important day, but I do feel sorry for the soldiers who had to carry on. People died after the war – prisoners of war on their way back were killed when two planes collided.”
Chris is going to share some of his World War 2 collection and the stories behind individual items at a talk called Blitz & Pieces, organised by Long Sutton & District Civic Society at the Curlew Centre in Sutton Bridge for Tuesday, May 19 (7pm). Entry is £3, civic society members free.