With VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) fast approaching, our thoughts turn to the brave men and women who fought and laboured to secure the freedoms we now enjoy. However, John Donne’s words, ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’ seem entirely pertinent, for behind every uniform stands a community, loved ones or even a spouse. To see a loved one go and serve is a noble and dignified sacrifice, often unnoticed or unrewarded. So today our attention turns to the wife of a World War II RAF Veteran, Isobel Kirkwood, who remembers the joy and relief of VE Day.
Upon hearing the news of the end of the war, the newly married and pregnant Isobel made with great haste down to Buckingham Palace. Where else would one want to be on such a momentous occasion? Isobel and a friend hopped on the Tube, disembarking in central London to join the crowds outside of the Palace.
Isobel said: “The atmosphere was jolly, it was a happy crowd, people were waving flags. I remember the King and the Royal Family coming out onto the balcony and waving to the crowds below. I shall never forget the roar as Winston Churchill joined them and you could feel the emotion, the gratitude of a nation for the way he kept morale high during the War.”
For Isobel, VE Day meant hope, it meant excitement. Robert, Isobel’s “good looking” Spitfire husband would return home a hero. The couple could begin to nest in Scotland, enjoying married life and the family that came with it. Furthermore, Isobel could continue teaching but now with the luxury of doing it in a classroom rather than an air shelter. VE Day marked the hope of a future of increasing normality and security.
This VE Day let’s spare a thought to those people behind the uniforms, remembering their sacrifice and steadfastness throughout the dark days of World War II.
Thank you Isobel for all you did to serve your country and for sharing your VE Day story.