Page last updated at 23:43 GMT, Thursday, 6 May 2010 00:43 UK

VE Day - a personal diary

This weekend sees the the sixty-fifth anniversary of VE Day, when Britain and its allies celebrated victory in the war in Europe.

Pamela Goss was then 19 years old and training for the WRNS in London. Like thousands of others she was caught up in the victory festivities in the capital. Later, she wrote an evocative letter to her mother in Torquay, describing her adventures as the week unfolded.

Pamela Goss & Sally Stephens
Pamela Goss with her daughter Sally Stephens

Sixty-four years later Pamela's daughter, Sally Stephens, found the letter while clearing her parents' house following the death of her father.

"My mother died in 2007 and there were all sorts of things in the house that I never knew existed. I found the letter in a leather stationary holder. My granny must have felt it was special and kept it there, and after her my mother."

Pamela's letter, which we have reprinted below, gives a very personal account of a special week in British history.

My Dear Mother,

Pamela Goss's letter
Pamela Goss's letter to her mother

There are such a lot of things to tell you about that I will make a sort of diary.

Monday

I managed to get a seat on the train although it was frightfully crowded and the train was actually five mins early at Paddington. I met a very nice Yankie on the train who asked me out to lunch, but being a good girl I refused and went back to Highgate. I had the rest of the day off so went up to town. Germany capitulated that afternoon so back I went to Channings and collected some pals and went to the Astoria to a dance. It was quite good.

Tuesday

Everyone went home and I was left with a girl I don't like particularly, anyway we took some sandwiches and went to London - what a time we had!!! First of all we went to a service at Westminster Abbey which I did enjoy. After that we waited for an hour in the boiling sun and heard Mr Churchill's speech and then we saw him! He was quite close and we were standing on a car and had a good view. I thought he was going to be mobbed but he managed to reach the Houses of Parliament at last.

After that we walked along with the crowd to Trafalgar Sq. Everyone went mad - there was a chap doing "Knees up Mother Brown", with every verse he took off something and finally ended up with two Union Jacks!! We met two awfully nice POs on the top of an air raid shelter - mine was tall, dark and handsome and extremely funny. We all went round to try and get a wash and something to eat but it was impossible.

Pamela Goss and fellow members of the WRNS
Pamela Goss and fellow members of the WRNS at Collingwood in 1945

We went to a little pub in Euston and had a few drinks and then we started - where we went I don't know but we went for about three bus rides and four trips in the tube and walked about 20 miles. Everyone was mad and I am still hoarse. We saw two men on the top of a hotel in Piccadilly, they were both drunk and each had a bottle of whisky which they poured down onto the crowd and then they emptied their pockets as well. How they managed to stay on the ledge I still can't think. On the other side a man was throwing water on to the crowd and finally he threw the bucket.

We walked along the embankment and saw all the lights etc. Then we tried to get a tube home but the last one had gone and we couldn't get in anywhere, so we spent the night on a seat just by Big Ben!! It chimed every quarter and I had about 20 mins sleep. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. People still were going around with bagpipes and saxophones and things. There was a sailor near us who kept going around to everyone and saying "Wakey, wakey rise and shine, the night was foul but the morning's fine!"

We got up about six and went along to Victoria - we still hadn't had a wash or anything to eat!

Ray and Taffy had to catch the 7.15 to Clapham so we saw them off and staggered into a YMCA. People were still asleep there and as we had to wait till 8 for the first tube we went to sleep as well. We got back to Highgate about 9am. I had a bath and cleaned up etc.

We went for miles and miles everyone was crazy and fireworks were going off all the time

Then we went up to town again and met some girls. While we were waiting for them all to arrive we sat on the pavement. Everyone came and spoke to us, it seemed as if we were holding a session! Then a man (civvy) came and gave up 2/- each for our tea - wasn't it nice of him?

We wandered around and met quite a few people. We all went to see Richard Greene in Desert Rats at the Adelphi. It was very good but rather heavy for VE-Day.

After that we got caught in a mob in Leicester Sq. where we met 3 more POs. We joined in a procession, where we went I don't know. We went for miles and miles everyone was crazy and fireworks were going off all the time. We did "Knees up Mother Brown", the "Oakey Cokey", Conga and I don't know what. We managed to fight our way to a tube station and queued up for the last train. The sailors came with us and kissed us all goodbye much to the joy of everyone else. By that time there were about six sailors and as they all kissed everyone about four times, we had quite a busy time. Of course the tubes were packed but by joining up together and pushing we managed to get on and arrived at Highgate about one o'clock. We crept in by the back door and no-one was any the wiser.

Thursday

Pamela Goss
Pamela Goss around 1945

I went to the Hitchins' for the day. Betty and Mr H. were working, but Mrs Hitchins and I had a nice time in the garden. Betty and I went to see Here come the Waves with Bing Crosby, it was not bad - and so back to Highgate. Mrs H had a good time but I expect she will be telling you about it.

Oh! By the way, on Monday night we had a party in the cabin after lights out. We had a bottle of gin, whisky, orange and martini. Have you ever had whiskey laced with gin, its quite good. One girl got drunk and although I had just as much I just felt merry and went off to sleep in the middle of a sentence and woke up feeling fine. I think I had about ½ a bot of whisky and quite a good part of the gin!! So far today I have done nowt. I was put down to 7C which means I shall have to go back about ten weeks!! And take the 12th weekly again. The others go on leave today lucky dogs. I may be home for Whitsun but will let you know later. Have you had a good time? I wish you could have been up here. I have never enjoyed myself quite as much and shall always remember it.

Are there any letter at home for me, there should be. Could you possibly send up my white pants in my small drawer of the dressing table. It is so hot here I don't wear a thing.

I feel full of beans today - Ray was so nice. He was 22 and was a motor mechanic. I don't think there is anything else to tell you except that I hope I am in London for V Day after the Jap war.

Pamela Goss
Pamela Goss later in life, enjoying her retirement

We are moving cabins once more - back to Adament to a very small one, only six in it.

Well I will finish Dear. Write to me soon and tell me everything and don't forget my message to Wally.

By the way I've told everyone that there will always be a shake down for them at St Davids if they should need it any time, that is OK is it?

All my love

Pam

P.S. How did the flags look?

P.P.S. Hope you are not shocked? Mrs H was very amused by it all. My ankle has come up again during the excitement but it doesn't hurt much. Hope Vicky enjoyed her namesake day.

Love Pam



Print Sponsor



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific