Peggy

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Peggy, 95, who is isolating at her home in Bethnal Green, remembers people swarming into London city centre to celebrate VE Day

Londoners who lived through VE Day have been sharing their memories of the end of World War Two from their doorsteps.

Photographer Adam Isfendiyar snapped seven people from their front doors as they compared their lives during the war to the coronavirus lockdown.

“I wanted get their reflections about VE Day during possibly the biggest world event since the Second World War,” he said.

Though the coronavirus outbreak means people are commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day within their own homes, Mr Isfendiyar’s subjects were keen to mark the end of the fight against Nazi Germany in Europe by posing for the camera.

Jim

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Jim remembers dancing and drinking all night long on VE Day

Jim Radford, 91, from Honor Oak Park in south-east London, celebrated VE Day on 8 May 1945 in Hull by jiving for five hours in the street.

At the age of 15, he had not long returned to the UK after joining the Royal Navy’s invasion of Europe.

“I was at sea from early 1944 until just before VE Day, but I saw a lot of action of course. I was 15. They told me I was the youngest there,” he said.

“I remember VE Day very well. It was an incredible day, a great sense of elation and jubilation. We were dancing in the streets all night long. It was a great night, one big open air party, everybody was on the street.”

He said one similarity between now and the war was the sense of community.

“People are helping each other out more. I think that we were deprived then, and we’re being deprived now to some extent and it means we can relate to each other better.”

Violet

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Violet, 91, said the rationing of World War Two was “better than today’s stockpiling”

Rene

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Rene was shocked to hear that the war had ended when she was in the cinema in 1945

Rene, 87, from Limehouse, who was 12 on VE Day, was at the cinema with a friend when the end of the war was announced.

“The manager came into the cinema and the lights went up and we were told that the war had ended,” she said.

“I remember looking at my friend in shock.”

Speaking about the lockdown, she said being shut away was “terrible” and reminded her of the war.

“It’s like going back to the blimmin’ war when you were stuck in places, day after day, night after night.”

Morry

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Morry is thankful to his children who have taken care of his shopping during the lockdown

Morry, 94, from Palmers Green, served in the Royal Armoured Corps.

On VE Day, he was at an army base in Durham and was told to go to Bedford where he would be transported back home to London.

“The de-mob centre gave us a suit and a pair of shoes. It was the most horrible suit you’ve ever seen in your life,” he said.

“I don’t know where they found them. It was awful. But we were so glad to be going home [that] it didn’t matter.”

His family are now taking care of him by doing his shopping as he cannot go out himself during the lockdown.

“Now we’ve got to keep ourselves separate and hope this whole thing will blow over and that they will find a cure.”

Joe

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Adam Isfendiyar

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Joe, from Stanmore, was sent to Italy on D-Day on the SS Sumeria and remained in there until 1946

Betty

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Adam Isfendiyar

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As a child, Betty was evacuated from London to Devon when the war began

Betty, 85, who lives in the Isle of Dogs, was sent to live in Devon at the age of four during the war.

“Mum told us that we were going to the country for the day and when we got to the station there were hundreds and hundreds of children,” she said.

“We were all issued with two pairs of knickers, two vests, one liberty bodice, one gas mask, and a packed lunch – just jam sandwiches.”

When she returned to London, she remembers enjoying numerous street parties to celebrate the end of the war.

“Everybody would get a table out the front and the street would have a little party.”

Betty, who has terminal cancer, says she has been staying positive during the lockdown by painting, writing poetry and playing music.

Mr Isfendiyar, from Tower Hamlets, will share his photographs on his personal blog and hopes to exhibit his work in the future.

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