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VE Day - Our Stories

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VE Day - or 'Victory in Europe Day' - marks the day the end of World War Two when fighting in Europe came to an end. On 8 May 2020 we mark 75 years since that date.

To commemorate all those who lived through the experience, we asked our team at Harold Benjamin to provide some personal stories.  It has been truly inspirational to read about and hear all the stories from our colleagues.

Take for example our colleague Kelly Morris’ grandfather Fred, and his twin brother, John were spitfire engineers at Biggin Hill, which played a pivotal part in the in the Battle of Britain; or Keith Boddy’s father, Ronald Boddy who, as a teenager, carried out night time fire spotting duties and when he was old enough he signed up for the Royal Navy and continued to sweep mines even after the end of the war.  Ashley Scanlon’s grandfather was a soldier in the army and her grandmother drove a fire engine during the blitz.

Bilyana Munic’s great aunt Slava Pavicic fought in Yugolsavia from 1941 to 1943. She was captured and sent to Auschwitz where she survived to see its liberation. After this she trained as an engineer to become one of the first female engineers in that field so she could help in rebuild effort.  

Arthur Byng Nelson recounted how his grandparents met during the war. His grandmother, Albertine, worked in Brussels in the resistance. She helped to hide and house many Jewish children and families; his grandfather, Maurice, a British doctor, met her in Belgium where they both helped those displaced to return home.

Equally, John Townsend’s father, Major Sam Townsend, was second in command of 4th Field Squadron and at the age of 24 he was then the youngest major in the Army.  During July and August 1944 the division fought its way out of Normandy and across northern France facing fire but nevertheless opening up the Divisional centre line and eventually building the first bridge to be built on German soil.  He was awarded the Military Cross.

Many children were saved by the Kindertransport which was the name given to the mission which took thousands of children to safety ahead of the second world war. It helped 10,000 children to escape from the horrors of Nazi Germany. They came without their families never knowing if they would ever see their parents again.

Jonathan Dorman described how his father arrived in England, aged only 13 and Ray Oshry explained that his father in law was brought to the UK aged 10 by Lord Sainsbury. He was sent to a family in the midlands and was reunited a few years later with his parents who managed to escape. There is a statue commemorating the Kindertransport outside Liverpool Street Station which was erected a few years ago as a reminder of what they went through.

Whether helping on the home front, or in the field; whether in securing safe passage, or in living through the war or finding love – we remain privileged to be able to hear and share these stories.  A reminder that there are things greater than all of us, and that a common humanity binds us together.

Whatever you are doing this weekend we hope you enjoy the celebrations to mark this historic day, and that you are able to take some time out to be with your families and loved ones. We hope you enjoy some of the pictures our colleagues have kindly shared.

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