It was a mixture of joy and reflection when Huddersfield marked VE Day.
For the Huddersfield Parish Church bells pealed out at 12 noon on May 8 and at 6pm the mayor Alderman Sidney Kaye addressed a large crowd from the flag-bedecked balcony of Huddersfield Town Hall.
Then silence fell to remember those who would never come back to their home town after losing their lives over the previous six years of conflict.
Later in the evening a united service of thanksgiving was held at the parish church.
On the celebration front the town was decorated with illuminations and the Examiner reported: “The rain during the morning and afternoon of VE Day at one time threatened to mar the proceedings but happily it cleared in the early evening and the people turned out in their thousands to see the illuminations and to maffick a little.
“Hundreds of coloured electric lights twinkled outside the floodlit town hall and in Greenhead Park fairy lights were suspended from the trees in the main walk and on the grass verges were illuminated set pieces – a windmill and the figures of a Dutch boy and girl – and the war memorial was floodlit.
“A big attraction in the town was the corporation illuminated trolleybus with its fairy lights, royal blue and gold tasselated bunting and huge victory Vs.
“Happy, carefree, singing crowds milled in the streets until midnight and after.”
Bonfires were set up to burn effigies of Hitler – including one of Hitler The Painter made by nurses at Storthes Hall Hospital.
The news about the end of the war had broken the day before with the Examiner headline on May 7 proclaiming End Of The War In Europe and revealing that the surrender took place at 2.41am at General Eisenhower’s headquarters.
And on May 8 the Examiner reported: “There was some jubilation in Huddersfield last night when it was learned that Germany had surrendered, but it was not on a big scale. It was a case of ‘waiting for Churchill’ and it was felt the official announcement that today was to be VE Day should and could have been made earlier.
“During the afternoon there was an air of expectancy in the town and in nearly every home the wireless set was kept going regardless of the programme in case a newsflash should be put out. When, at 7.40pm, it was officially stated that the war with Germany was over many people came into town to begin celebrating.
“The VE Day announcement was made at places of entertainment and was received with enthusiasm.”
The Examiner also revealed some fascinating VE Day snippets including the fact that “some Huddersfield soldiers who returned home on leave from Germany brought with them bottles of Ribbentrop champagne which had been reserved for the Nazi victory celebrations. The champagne was put to much better purpose.”
And one soldier who had been captured right at the start of the war was back home just in time to celebrate.
Signalman Ronald Dunford was taken prisoner in June 1940 at St Valery and had been freed from a POW camp on the Austrian border. He had attended Stile Common School and had worked at Jesse Stephenson Ltd in Birkby.
The Holme Valley aimed to be the most colourful place in the area.
The Examiner reported: “Practically every householder was looking for a place to hang up some red, white and blue material. One milkman this morning had decorated his horse with red, white and blue rosettes and flags were placed on the harness.”
So the war was over but it was to be many more years before life really returned to normal.