WHEN the war in Europe ended 75 years ago, I was a 13-year-old second-year pupil at Dalkeith High School in Midlothian.

On Monday, May 7, 1945, our class was told that if it was announced that night that the fighting was over, we wouldn’t need to go to school next day. That is what happened.

Word came on the wireless that evening, and Tuesday, May 8, was a holiday, named VE Day. A formal announcement that Germany had surrendered was not made by Churchill until 3pm, because it had to be synchronised with statements by President Truman and Joseph Stalin.

That evening, I remember seeing wild revelry in the centre of Dalkeith as men and women capered by the light of street lamps. May 9 was a national holiday, and school was not resumed until May 10.

I was not particularly elated. Relief was the main emotion of my parents, who had lived through two World Wars, and I shared this.

I had my 14th birthday that summer, and I witnessed more public celebrations in the town after Japan surrendered on August 14. Now we were in a strange new world.

The years that followed were austere. Food rationing did not end until July, 1954. My impression is that there was not a feeling of rising prosperity and optimism about the future until the later 1950s.

The Second World War, which I saw from the Home Front, was an unforgettable experience.

Seventy-five years on, I am profoundly grateful to the generation who risked their lives in the War, ensuring my freedom for three-quarters of a century.

Christopher Reekie,


I AM in agreement with Marianne Taylor as to restraint in VE celebrations (“VE Day is about much more than flags and bunting”, The Herald, May 4).

As a nine-year-old paper delivery boy it was the horrific revelations of the Nazi concentration camps which I still vividly remember, and not the celebrations around a bonfire in a local field (which is now a thriving fitness centre).

Strangely, 50 years later (1995) in the same district considerable acclaim was given to VE day but I doubt whether, another 25 years on, this will be repeated.

By all means do not forget the victims of yesteryear’s conflicts. Equally, we should actively support all who strive to eradicate the coronavirus plague which threatens us all. By downplaying VE celebrations at this time would not only assist but be respectful to the 29,000 who have already succumbed.

Allan C Steele,


I HAVE at home a fair number of books about the Second World War.

It was a subject I became interested in while in my mid-twenties. I remember being taught absolutely nothing about it in school – something that in retrospect I found remarkable, given the enormity of the threat that Britain and the rest of the free world faced from Hitler.

The more I read (and I have to say it is not the battles and the bloodshed that interest me – what captivates me are the reasons for the war, and the truly amazing response from the Allies), the more I regret the absence of 1939-1945 from my school history timetable.

I have no way of knowing whether the conflict is taught in any shape or form in today’s schools, but I sincerely hope that it is. I have, however, a nephew in his mid-twenties who, through no fault of his own, is utterly unaware of what his grandparents endured during those bleak years.

Given our never-ending debt to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, I sincerely hope that today’s pupils will not leave school without being made aware of what happened in the 1940s.

S MacDonald, Glasgow.