Dennis Whight’s VE Day

We are to celebrate the anniversary of V.E.Day this coming Friday. I will certainly do that, though in 1945 my day was not one of celebration. I was at that time doing my R.A.F. initial training at Torquay, following on from a University Air Squadron 6 months course and prior to going on to pilot training at Brough in Yorkshire. We were stationed at the converted Grand Hotel, which I believe had 7 floors. Following pre breakfast P.E. on the lawns of the nearby Belgrade Hotel and then breakfast we lined up for our quota of inoculations from the medics. Then the “fun” started. Our instructor, F/Sgt Brown, told us to get into full kit including gas masks and to assemble by the bottom of the lift shaft.

Obeying orders we did just that and he told us we needed exercise to get the inoculations firmly into our systems. “I am going to the top of the lift” he said “and when I get there I will blow this ere whistle and you will double up the stairs to me. Then I will go down again and blow it from the bottom and you will double down. We’ll repeat this until I think you’ve had enough. The day is then yours to celebrate.” Enough was a good hour later and most of us lay down on our bunks to recover. I awoke some time later and went down to Torquay centre just in time to get the last celebratory sandwiches and buns from the Salvation Army canteen.

It was certainly a day to remember.

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