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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Hero's welcome for VE Day witness
Michele Alliot-Marie, Albert Meserlin and Susan Hibbert
For me this is a very moving moment
Michele Alliot-Marie
French Defence Minister
The woman responsible for typing the surrender document which brought an end to war in Europe has returned to a hero's welcome in France.

Sixty years ago Susan Hibbert was a British sergeant based at General Eisenhower's HQ in Reims.

As a secretary for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), she had played a vital role - typing the final surrender papers.

She was the centre of VE-Day celebrations on her return to the city.

Susan - who now lives in Abbots Ann, Hampshire - began typing the Act of Military Surrender on 6 May and finished some 20 hours later in the early hours of 7 May.

"Staff officers and interpreters were coming and going. We were not allowed to leave the room.

"There were constant changes and amendments. I often had to start again from the beginning," she said.

Susan Hibbert
Susan Hibbert spent a tiring 20 hours typing the surrender papers

The documents were finally taken to the "war room".

At about 0230 on 7 May, 10 Allied officers came in and took their places at the table. The Germans were called in.

Susan and a group of her colleagues had been waiting for a long time outside the room, before being invited in to watch history being made.

"We were very, very tired. We had been waiting for ages. We came into the room, there were a lot of journalists and photographers.

"The actual signing was carried out quietly and solemnly. There was no celebrating," says Susan.

Susan and other secretaries waited outside before being invited in

At an emotional ceremony to mark VE Day Jean-Louis Schneiter, Mayor of Reims, awarded Susan and Albert Meserlin, Eisenhower's photographer, the city's medal of honour.

Michele Alliot-Marie, French Defence Minister, was also there to greet the two veterans of that historic day.

"For me this is a very moving moment," said Ms Alliot-Marie.

"To meet two witnesses of such and important moment for our country and for a new Europe."



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