V-E Day in Portadown
Today is VE-Day . . .
TODAY AND TOMORROW ARE TO BE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS IN CELEBRATION OF OUR VICTORY
Photographs taken by Mervyn Heatley
on the morning of Tuesday the 8th. of May 1945
|View from St. Mark's Church. Foreground shows part of empty circular water tank, further on another triangular tank filled, the purpose being to insure a readily supply of water in the event of incendries dropped by enemy aircraft. Beyond is air-raid shelter in High Street.
|Market Street, Corbett's decorated with portraits of Stalin, Churchill, King George VI, Queen Elizabeth , Roosevelt and DeGaulle
Portadown News Saturday May 12th. 1945
Portadown in common with every town and village throughout Northern Ireland joined to the fullest possible extent in the universal rejoicings of Tuesday, V-E Day, to mark the termination of warfare on the Continent of Europe.
On Monday the feeling of expectancy was at fever pitch and there were few who missed hearing the BBC news bulletins throughout the morning and early afternoon, hoping that Mr. Churchill would give the long awaited signal that V-E Day had come. When at last came the announcement that Mr. Churchill would speak at 3.00 p.m. on Tuesday, it is only true to say that to an extent there were signs of disappointment, but these did not take long to disappear. Soon the streets were filled with eager crowds, supplemented throughout the late evening by large reinforcements of all ages from the country districts, and it was soon evident that the restraint which had marked our expectancy would be broken. Towards nightfall the crowds were in fine form and dancing and games were the order of the night. Young people and the children too left the congested pavements and joined the amusements on the main thoroughfare from St. Mark’s Parish Church down to Bridge Street.
Not least happy were the Belgian soldiers who had come into town to give vent to their joy at the defeat of the German nation and the liberation of their homeland. With the best good humour and the assistance of admires they united with the swirling masses of jubilant people and they had a merry time. Some of them had secured Belgium flags and with these they lead processions here and there, up and down.
And then on Tuesday V-Day had come. Joy and gladness were plainly written on the face of everyone who came out of doors. The town was in festive mood, a blaze of colour. In the main streets, in the little streets and from public buildings the flags of the Allies were displayed and bunting which we thought impossible to secure was floating in the breeze at every point. One of the first places decorated was Fowler’s Entry, whose inhabitants were prepared for V-Day long before the week-end.
In the morning several thousands attended the open-air Service at the War Memorial, and later were entertained by bands from town and country. Drumming parties also participated. In the evening Services of Thanksgiving were held in Protestant Churches of the town. Towards dusk bonfires were blazing at a number of points and rockets were exploding in all directions.
Local Roman Catholic communities had their premises gaily bedecked with bunting and the flags of the Allied Nations during the celebrations. In Marley Street for example a huge Union Jack hung right across the centre of the roadway, while a blood stained ensign brought home from Palestine by one of the many men from the vicinity serving in H.M Forces. St. Patrick’s Hall in Thomas Street was also decorated inside and outside, while St. Patrick’s Recreation Club’s premises in Thomas St. were also gaily adorned.
Interesting email from Fernand Dupuis, he was in Portadown
on V-E Day:
As you can see, even in Belgium there are people interested by your
photos. Having been in Ulster in 1945 (I was in Gilford) with the Belgian
Army I was fond of spending my free time in Portadown going to the movies
or to dance at the Plaza and the Savoy. So imagine the pleasure I
had to see your web site. (note that since 1945 I came back nine times to
Ulster where I still have very good friends)
We'll meet again, don't know
where, don't know when,