VE Day Celebrations in Cuckfield and Brook Street

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Wednesday 16 May 1945


GERMANY DEFEATED: THE PEOPLE OF BRITAIN REJOICE

CELEBRATIONS AND THANKSGIVING IN CUCKFIELD

REPATRIATED PRISONERS WELCOMED.

“The dreadful shadow of war has passed far from our hearths and homes in these islands” said the King in his broadcast to the nation and Empire on V. E. Day.


So for two whole days the people the country who had carried the burden, and faced the perils, of total war for nearly six years gave themselves up to celebration and thanksgiving. Germany had capitulated unconditionally. The Nazi menace had been obliterated. Now of the aggressor nations only Japan remained uncrushed, and terrible retribution was awaiting her. Mid-Sussex has not suffered in material destruction like some parts of England, but it has its scars, and no district has thrown itself into the war effort with greater devotion and sacrifice than has this loyal community. So when the news of Germany’s defeat was announced the pent-up feelings of years were released.


In the sun-lit streets, coloured riotously with the flags of the Allied Nations and red, white and blue bunting, the people, sporting patriotic rosettes and emblems, celebrated a wonderful victory, their victory. The Church bells rang out, and Mr. Churchill’s historic speech was broadcast from loud speakers. At night the revelry reached its height. Bonfires were alight everywhere; there was the welcome barrage of firework explosions; the streets were alive and noisy with gay, singing crowds. And between the celebrations there were solemn moments dedicated to thanksgiving when thoughts turned to the men and women who gave their lives that Britain might live.


In most places there were organised programmes. Here is how Cuckfield celebrated:


There was full house at the Queen's Hall, Cuckfield. last Wednesday evening, when a free dance was held under the auspices of the Cuckfield Residents’ Hospitality Association. The Hall was gaily decorated with flags, and the Red Star Dance Band (Haywards Heath) rendered a first-rate musical programme. Messrs. E. A. Bilsby and C. Rowland kept the ball merrily rolling as joint Masters of Ceremonies, and nice prizes were handed to winners of spot competitions. A pleasing feature of the proceedings was the rousing welcome accorded repatriated prisoners of war, who had recently been flown from Germany. They were carried shoulder high, accorded musical honours and handed cigarettes. The men were obviously overcome by their ovation. Excellent refreshments were served in the lobby under the direction of the ever-willing Mrs. Quickenden and her helpers. The proceedings ended with the singing of “Auld Lang Syne and the National Anthem.


There are no available images of Cuckfield VE celebrations; the Mid Sussex Times included a Burgess Hill Service of Thanksgiving (below)



BROOK STREET “MAKES WHOOPEE”

On VE and VE Plus 1 night Brook Street indulged in its own celebrations. Bonfires were lit and effigies of Hitler and Goring burnt. An accordion and drums were played, and community singing was entered into with great heartiness. On both nights torchlights were carried in procession, and on Wednesday evening there was a colourful fancy dress parade. Excellent refreshments, kindly donated by number of residents, were partaken from a motor lorry free of charge. Upwards of 69 members of Nos. 1 and 2 Platoons, “A" (Cuckfield) Company, 13th Battalion Sussex Home Guard paraded at the Sunday morning service at Cuckfield Parish Church, under the command of Lieutenant H. L. Traherne, (Officer Commanding No. 2 Platoon). Several former Home Guard members were on parade, including Colonel A. H. Bell. D.S.O. and Major J. S. Denham (formerly Unit Commanders). The service was conducted by the Rev. H. F. C. Kempe (Vicar) and afterwards Lieut. Colonel M. T. Turner. O.B.E. M.C. .(Officer Commanding 13th Battalion took took the salute.

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