Looking back at VE Day in Saffron Walden and Clavering

PUBLISHED: 10:00 08 May 2020

VE Day Thanksgiving service held on the Common. Photo: The Gibson Library.

VE Day Thanksgiving service held on the Common. Photo: The Gibson Library.

The Gibson Library

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the pictures we received from local history experts are worth 75 years since a key moment for Saffron Walden - Victory in Europe Day.

Original caption of the picture showing the VE Day Thanksgiving service held on the Common. Photo: The Gibson Library.Original caption of the picture showing the VE Day Thanksgiving service held on the Common. Photo: The Gibson Library.

The historical moment, also known as VE Day, symbolises the end of the Second World War in Europe and marks 75 years today.

We wanted to see just how many artefacts there are in and about Saffron Walden and surrounding villages.

Looking back at VE Day, The Gibson Library shared a picture of a Thanksgiving service held on the day and its original caption. It seems to be a rare photographic artefact from VE Day in 1945. The library also holds a newspaper report of the day.

Jacqueline Cooper, the author of a book called Clavering at War, shared a VE Day letter from the Clavering vicar, and some words about the VE Day celebrations in Clavering.

Newspaper report. Photo: The Gibson Library.Newspaper report. Photo: The Gibson Library.

A journal report was provided by courtesy of the Saffron Walden Historical Society; the journal, called ‘Saffron Walden Historical Journal No 39 Spring 2020’, reads:

“VE Day came on a Tuesday... for a time, the town had quite a Sunday appearance. The church bells rang out... The weather was warm and we had no guns with which to fire salutes.

“A torchlight procession, led by the Saffron Walden Town Band (its first public appearance for some years) and by the drums and pipes was an attractive feature... On the Common, by 10.45pm, were some thousands of people.

“At midnight, many people were still dancing in the market square to music provided by amplifiers of Saffron Walden Radio Stores. So ended a very memorable day... Bravo Walden... perhaps troops won’t call us ‘Suffering Walden’ anymore...”

VE Clavering vicar's letter - extract from 'Clavering at War' by Jacqueline Cooper. Photo: Jacqueline Cooper.VE Clavering vicar's letter - extract from 'Clavering at War' by Jacqueline Cooper. Photo: Jacqueline Cooper.

A spokesperson for Saffron Walden Museum said they find it surprising that there are no photographs of VE Day in the museum’s archive. However, the museum does hold a copy of the “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet, and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme.

The museum is planning social media posts about VE Day on Friday, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

VE Day in Clavering celebrations - extract from 'Clavering at War' by Jacqueline Cooper. Photo:  Jacqueline Cooper.VE Day in Clavering celebrations - extract from 'Clavering at War' by Jacqueline Cooper. Photo: Jacqueline Cooper.

The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.

The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.

The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.

The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.The museum has a “Thanksgiving for Victory” Order of Service booklet and a Saffron Walden VE day events programme. Photo: Saffron Walden Museum.


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