As The Royal Mint celebrates the 75th anniversary of VE Day, we are celebrating the generation that gave so much for our freedom. Coronavirus means that we might not be able to see the family members who lived through this experience, but VE Day is an opportunity to collectively thank them. And there’s never been a more important time to remember those who looked after us when it mattered.
During the current pandemic, The Royal Mint has had to adapt to new ways of working, including our Mint Marque team who are staying in touch with customers from home. In the run up to the anniversary, we spoke to a number of customers to hear their memories of VE Day and how the current climate has makes the sacrifices even more relevant.
Our Account Manager Debra spoke to Mr Coole about VE Day. He was only seven years old at the time, but recalls hearing the news from the radio as there was no television.
Mr Coole reminisced about the celebratory street parties and war time singalongs – “knees up mother brown” was a particularly fond memory, and people were elated and hopeful for the future – ‘it was as if a cloud had been lifted as each day before, they had wondered if there would be a tomorrow.’
Account Manager Simon chatted to Mr Moor and he agreed that memories of the parties have stayed with him for decades. Being only 11, Mr Moor told Simon ‘I used to fear going to school to hear that I had lost friends through bombings but once the war was over I remember the parties and I was very keen to go out and play cricket with my cousins without rockets going over us. I never saw parents frightened with everything going on and looking back now, I realise it was to protect me.’
‘I feel celebrating our nation is so important because so many people these days haven’t known what it’s like to have a crisis until now.’
Coronavirus has left many people isolated, and at The Royal Mint we’ve been trying to stay in touch with our customers. Account Manager Rachel speaks to Mr Todd every other day as his family are not able to visit at the moment. Mr Todd was just 5 years old on VE Day and told Rachel ‘we were lucky to have not seen any German bombers in our area. We were just a small village and to be honest we just carried on as normal. We didn’t complain and we certainly didn’t go without any food, our community supported each other we were just one big family.”
These recollections from customers show that resilience has been a common theme in Britain.
As people gathered around the radio 75 years ago to listen to Churchill, announcing victory had come at last, people cheered as Britain once again overcame adversity. Few people were left untouched by the war in some way, and there are many parallels to the battle we currently face against Coronavirus.
The current climate means that VE Day celebrations had changed enormously from street parties to virtual events, but we can still come together as a nation and mark this historic occasion.
The Royal Mint pays special thanks to a generation who gave so much and honours their spirit and sacrifice with the launch of the VE Day commemorative £2 coin.