VE Day 75th Anniversary – Dunfermline remembers
The 8th of May 2020, marks 75 years since Victory in Europe (VE) Day. The previous day had seen the Germans formally and unconditionally surrendering to the Allied Forces. This brought to an end nearly six years of war. It was celebrated with parties throughout the United Kingdom bringing over one million people out into the streets.
In Dunfermline, from all accounts, events were relatively low key, certainly not helped by the very rainy weather on that day. The picture below shows locals making their way up Bridge Street towards a bonfire in Pittencrieff Park. Low key or not, the joy and relief were palpable amongst everyone throughout the town.
Dunfermline had, over the previous six years, written its own unique story of the war. Just six weeks after war had been declared in 1939, Germany launched an audacious attack on the Naval Base at Rosyth, not ten minutes from Dunfermline. The Royals Navy’s flagship HMS Hood was incorrectly thought to be docked at the Rosyth Harbour; this resulted in the first air raid of the Second World War.
After the initial invasion of Poland, thousands of Polish soldiers were exiled to Scotland and lived in Dunfermline and surrounding areas. They played a critical role in defending the town.
Pittencrieff Park was used extensively during the war. Areas were set aside for the grazing of sheep, by 1943 there were 53 allotments growing vegetables and the building had been requisitioned by the Military Authorities. It took a while for leisure activities to return to the park, Punch & Judy Shows and magic shows were the first to return in 1945.
There is a sense of irony that we will recognise this significant anniversary in the face of a virus that is keeping us all indoors rather than in the streets, celebrating, as we should be. We must mark the 8th of May 2020 by reflecting and celebrating the power of the human spirit. There are so few remaining who can tell us their stories, our children and their children must never forget.
As our ancestors fought and overcame adversity 75 years, so we will fight and overcome what we face today. And then, like they did on that significant day, we will make our way onto the streets and revel in the sense of freedom that perhaps we previously took forgranted.