In June last year the Memorial Orchard website wrote about the role 95 year old Ernie Nelson of Hartford played in the D-Day landings. http://orchard.weaverham.org.uk/d-day-veteran-ernie-nelson/
In this weeks VE Day Commemorative issue of the Northwich Guardian we learn more of his story.
Ernie, who was a wireless telegraphist on HMS Scourge, was returning from an Arctic convoy when he received the message saying that the war in Europe was over.
They were ordered to go to Copenhagen to accept the surrender of the German naval base. When HMS Scourge docked at the base the local people came out and cheered.
The Guardian also features an article contributed by the Memorial Orchard and Weaverham History Society. This is an extended version.
Victory in Europe Day Celebrations in Weaverham
This year marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day. Following Adolf Hilter’s suicide on 30th April 1945 his successor, Reichspresident Karl Donitz, head of the Fiensburg Government signed the act of military surrender at 02.41 on 7th May in Reims. A slightly modified document was signed on 8th May in Berlin.
Thus war in Europe officially ended on 8th May 1945 which was declared a National Holiday in Britain. Churchill ensured that there would be enough beer in London for the celebrations and red, white and blue bunting could be purchased all over Britain without using ration coupons. Whilst thousands outside Buckingham Palace celebrated by calling for the King, Queen and Churchill to appear on the balcony, street parties were held all over Britain.
In 2003 Weaverham History Society recorded the voices of hundreds of village residents and in 2004 they published an oral history book based on these recordings. Joan Capper recalling VE Day said, ‘’On VE Day the ICI buzzer woke me at five minutes to one. I could hear the Church bells and shouts saying, ‘’The War’s over!’’ I got up to go to the village to see what was going on and there was dancing in the streets. Mrs Collier had the piano out and there was Ernie Wilkinson on drums and Rosie playing the squeeze box. There we were dancing in the street’’.
In his books ‘Village of Moonbeams’ and ‘Village of Moonbeams Revisited’ George Moss describes similar scenes. He says that the church bells rang out and describes the village High Street being thronged with people dancing and laughing in the afternoon sunshine. He describes the joyous relief on the faces of everyone. He also describes the local Shopkeeper’s daughter; Rosie Hornby and her husband Ernie Wilkinson setting up a stage outside their home. Apparently they played ‘’all the old songs’’ on the accordion and drums well into the night. He omitted to mention Mrs Collier’s piano.
George said that ‘’people were reluctant to go home, so great was their joy and even when the last strains of music had died away, many still walked about, their happiness overflowing.’’. He goes on to say that ‘’As well as joy, there was grief and sorrow for those whose lives would never be the same after losing loved ones and having seen their hopes and aspirations come to nought.’’
VE Day did not mark the end of the war. This would come on VJ Day August 15th 1945. However, large numbers of our service men and women were demobbed allowing them to return to their homes and families.
To mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May this year WCMO volunteers have sown a circle of wild flower seeds around the bush Wareham Russets at the Memorial Orchard (a community orchard for residents of Weaverham, Hartford and surrounding areas).. We hope the flowers will appear by then as a memorial to all who served in the Second World War, large numbers of whom lost their lives.