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VE Day 75: 'I did not recognise my father when he did reappear in uniform with a kit bag containing half a dolls' tea set, sugared almond and two beaten brass bowls'

Lifelong Bishop's Stortford resident Sandra Hayden was five on VE Day. She had been born in Herts and Essex Hospital after her parents moved from London to escape the Blitz. She shares her memories of wartime and the London Victory Celebrations of 1946...

"My aunt at the time worked for William Lyon Mackenzie, Prime Minister of Canada. She worked at Canada House in London and I was invited to watch the parade from a balcony there.

"I remember looking down at the bands, tanks, soldiers, sailors and airmen. I probably did not fully realise exactly what it meant for the country: Peace."

Sandra Hayden (34222460)
Sandra Hayden (34222460)

Things had been different a year earlier. "My father had not yet returned from North Africa, where, in the Army, he trained troops, Gurkhas among them.

"I did not recognise him when he did reappear in uniform with a kit bag. It contained half a tin dolls' tea set, sugared almond and two beaten brass bowls for my mother, which she disliked."

"From the war, in general, I recall gas masks, sandbags on the doorstep, the blackout, ration books, dried egg and airmail letters my parents wrote to each other through the war years.

"Another aunt and her husband ran a big pub in Potter Street called the Reindeer [on the site of what is now Eat 17], frequented by American forces.

"My cousins built a makeshift raft, as the River Stort ran behind the Reindeer – it promptly sank, although just their pride was hurt.

"I have stayed in Stortford and now, aged 80, have many happy memories."

* Sandra Hayden, a mother and grandmother, lives in Barrells Down Road in Bishop's Stortford.

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