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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 May, 2005, 23:26 GMT 00:26 UK
A letter to my Daddy on VE Day
Eight-year-old Margaret Salter wrote to her father in the RAF in 1945 to describe the VE Day celebrations he was missing in Bournville, Birmingham.

Sixty years later, her story is among more than 17,000 told on the World War II People's War website.

Margaret Salter
Margaret saw "everything you could have wished for" at the street party

Dear Daddy,

I am going to tell you about my VE Week, it was such a pity you could not be home. On Tuesday Mummy thought I ought to go to school to know when to go back.

There were about 10 children there beside myself; two children said they had seen Mr Hughes (the headteacher) and Mrs Lancaster, but they did not come and tell us what to do.

After about 20 minutes of waiting, I walked home, and saw Mr Ward (who owned the electrical shop) putting G.V.R.W.O.B.P. (meaning unknown - was it G VI R?) in lights, and pink flags up on the Green in front of the shops.

In his window he had golden crowns with coloured lights for jewels. Mummy bought me a two-shilling Union Jack. At eight o'clock, (well past my usual bedtime) Mummy said: "We might as well go down and hear the King's speech through Ward's loudspeakers," and we did.

When we got down on to the Green we saw a huge bonfire piled up in front of the Manor (an ancient black and white manor house).

We saw the illuminated bus go by, all decorated with lights and VEs. It looked very pretty

Mummy asked when it was going to be lit, and she was told 10 o'clock. So we waited. It was lit with large flares. After a bit we went to see the floodlighting at Cadbury's.

Oh, I forgot to tell you, the fire-engine came, but they did not put the fire out, oh no! They drove off again. (56 years later, I was told the bonfire had been built deliberately over the fire hydrant.)

Hitler 'guy'

The floodlighting was simply MARVELLOUS! It lighted up the Works beautifully. (Blackout had been enforced for the past six years, and the floodlights must have been erected in a few hours - I had never seen shops or streets lit up.)

When we came back, it was now about 11pm and the Hitler guy was nearly consumed. It was an awfully good Hitler, with a swastika on head and arm.

Then we danced until midnight on the Green, and I got an invitation to a street party in Maple Road.

Winston Churchill signs to crowds on VE day
Meanwhile in London, Winston Churchill was greeted by thousands

So next afternoon I set out with Pam, Alan, and Margaret D, and all the mothers and fathers went too.

There were long tables set up down the middle of the street, and everything you could have wished for was on the tables; lemonade, cakes, sponges, chocolate cake, chocolate biscuits, bread, fancy cakes and more.

(This was after six years of rationing, where did it all come from? Sugar must have been hoarded for months, in expectation.)

Even when the grown-ups had had their tea, there was a lot left. Then we had games; potato and spoon, potato and bucket races, and more refreshments - ice cream, oranges, sweets and lemonade and chocolate.

Every child had a prize. I had a drawing book and two pencils. I have already drawn two pictures.

Elephant outing

There was going to be another bonfire and we came down to the Green to see it. We saw the illuminated bus go by, all decorated with lights and VEs. It looked very pretty.

Then we went back to the bonfire, and I learned to dance the Military Two-Step with Mummy. I went to bed no earlier than last night.

On Friday I went to stay with Auntie Bessie and Uncle Billy. On Saturday we went to Dudley Zoo. We had a lovely lunch of liver and mashed potato and cabbage, with lime to drink. It was very nice.

Afterwards we went round the zoo. I had a ride on a little Shetland pony, it was great fun. Auntie and I went up to the keep of the castle.

It was a very pretty view up there, you can see for miles. We saw the elephant having an outing, and two bears trying to get each other into the pool.

Very much love from Margaret xxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Producer Katherine Campbell says the site has become the largest online national archive of WWII memories and will be "a legacy for future generations".

Military and home front stories are both important and contributors could also add photographs, she says.

Margaret's father returned home before VJ Day.



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