Value the Victory

Another intriguing and varied week at South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre, Yeovil, Somerset.

We recently received a ‘timely’ reminder in the form of the ‘W.J. Sherriff’ Clock from Preston Road Methodist Church, Yeovil. This week’s blog is timely for another reason. Literally, in the last hour, we have received a photograph of a Victory in Europe (VE) Day Party at Western Terrace,            St. Michael’s Avenue, Yeovil with the 70th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May.

Once again, this highlights the poignancy of photographs ‘capturing’ a particular moment and the importance of accurate documentation. For those generations separated by time from the ‘global conflict’ or accustomed to images of war relayed on 24 hour news, the significance and impact of Churchill’s speech announcing cessation of conflict (though Victory in Japan VJ Day would come later) may be difficult to imagine.

Something of the feeling of the time is captured in the faces of the children and their parents, especially with the request to attend in fancy dress. With rationing still in force, some imagination seems to have gone into the costumes – perhaps ‘make do and mend’ becoming ‘make do and imagine’. The smiles and number in the group also reflect the momentous nature of the event. Many of the children may also have attended the local Pen Mill School, suggesting this was either part of the school day or a special weekend occasion. The majority of adults in the image are ladies, which may give some indication.

Timely and accurate documentation is also key to record at the time of donation, any one known in the photograph. This was certainly the case, with members of the Trask family (mineral water fame) being identified. This can also help if we ask for further information through a press release – as not only are people able to identify unknown ‘faces’ but also confirm existing details and can share memories of the time.

The strange and perhaps sad point, inevitably, is what lies ‘behind’ the image, with losses on both sides. Perhaps the point remains and is strengthened further, especially with Thursday 7th May’s General Election, is the freedoms we enjoy and owe to previous generations – “For our tomorrow, they gave their today” – with our celebrations tempered by the suffering experienced but also the choice we now have, and consider how we ‘value the victory.’

Victory in Europe Party, Western Terrace, Yeovil 8th May 1945 with the Methodist Church in the Background.

VE Day Party Swain844

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