A recent post I wrote was about a photo I found in a box my mum gave me – Who is in the Photo? I liked writing it so much I’ve decided to make this a regular thing. Today I present:
Who is in the Photo – V Day World War II Street Party.
At first glance it is clear to see the photo is a street party. But how do I identify who is in the photo? Looking closely, I thought I could see my dad sitting at the table on the righthand side. I scanned and emailed the photo to his cousins in England.
They confirmed I had indeed identified my dad but also pointed out my grandma, grandad, and Auntie Eileen. I had missed seeing them as I have very few pictures of my grandparents and Auntie Eileen was obscured by the pole.
However, they didn’t know where the party was held. They suggested it was a street party held in dad’s street in Stafford. As they lived in Willenhall they weren’t there.
I estimate my dad’s age to be about 7 years old in the picture. This would mean the photo was taken approximately 1945. That would mean it is more than likely a street party to celebrate V Day World War II. Just taking a look at the picture you can see elation, sadness, and war weariness etched into their faces.
What is V Day?
On 7 May 1945 the BBC announced that Prime Minister Churchill had declared “that Victory in Europe Day would be a national holiday.1 This was to take place the following day”.1 However, despite the obvious happiness at this news people were still concerned as the war in the Pacific was still going.1,2 The Japanese would not surrender until August 1945.1,2
However, even with the reservation about the Pacific war, many people commenced celebrations as soon as the announcement was made.1,2 People had bonfires, danced, and headed to the pub.1,2 Given the previous 6 years of restrictions on food and clothing rationing, and the threat of air raids and bombing, it was understandable.1
On V Day Churchill announced
We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead.
This is your victory.1
The crowd responded with a resounding:
No – it’s yours!1
Buckingham Palace was a central feature of London’s celebrations.1,2 King George VI, Queen Elizabeth, Princesses Elizabeth, and Margaret waving to the crowds from the balcony.1,2 There was dancing in the street, pubs open late, large crowds congregating everywhere to celebrate.1,2
What did one eat?
With food rationing in place, people had become very inventive with meals they prepared.3 This was due to the limited availability of sugar, eggs, and meat.3 Celebrations would have included whatever was available.3 It would have looked nothing like a celebration we would have today.3 More than likely there would have been sandwiches with beef dripping.3 Dripping is the fat that was left in the pan after the beef is cooked.3 Other selections may have included:
Lord Woolton Pie – diced vegetables topped with potato or pastry.3 Pork Faggots with Onion and Gravy Mash; Corned Beef Hash; Spam; Liver Casserole.3 Due to the limited availability of meat, offal was frequently used as a cheap substitute.3
However, the one thing that every celebration needs is a cake.3 But, given the restrictions on sugar and eggs people had become resourceful.3 Eggless Fruit Cake would have been a welcome addition to the celebration table.3
Who are the others in the photo
Something I would love to know is who is in the photo and assume they are neighbours of my family. I have posted the image onto a Staffordshire Genealogy group to see if anyone recognises someone.
By using the 1939 Register, I have established that my family lived at 62 Rowley Grove, Stafford. They were still living there when my grandma died, four years to the day, on 8 May 1949. So more than likely it is taken in the street near their home. I can use the 1939 Register to check for neighbours in the street. There was no 1941 Census taken due to the war. I will have to wait until 2051 to see who still lived there in 1945..
1939 Register and your research
The 1939 Register is a great resource for genealogists who had relatives in the United Kingdom at the outbreak of World War 2. It provides information of who was living at a given address at the time. Anyone who is possibly still alive has their information redacted so you will only see the older generations details. However, as time moves on they will release more of this information. The 1939 Register is unique in the way the National Archives has incorporated world events and maps into the project. This means you not only get an overview of your family but also the context in which they lived. A great resource you should have a look at today.
So do you know anyone in this photo?
Do you have any relatives in this photo?
Or do you have similar photos of V Day World War II Celebrations?
I would love to hear from you!
Have you ever used the 1939 Register to look for your English ancestors? Click the image to head over to Findmypast to see where your family was at the outbreak of World War II.
- 1. Imperial War Museums, ‘What You Need to Know About VE Day’, http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-you-need-to-know-about-ve-day, Accessed 15 December 2017.
- 2. BBC, ‘VE Day’, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/events/ve_day, Accessed 15 December 2017.
- 3.Metro.co.uk, ‘VE Day 2015: Back in 1945 This is What You Ate to Celebrate’, http://metro.co.uk/2015/05/08/ve-day-2015-back-in-1945-this-is-what-you-ate-to-celebrate-5185160/, Accessed 15 December 2017.