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Reflections on VE Day

"And now 75 years later we battle against COVID 19. We are in it together. The battle is incredibly tough for so many. But what endured through the Second World War and beyond is love..common or garden…magnificent…love. Love will endure well beyond COVID 19."

75 years ago I was not there! I arrived just two years later. My Mum and Dad were there - but not together. Dad was in Italy as Sergeant Instructor in the Royal Artillery. He had been in Tripoli but was injured by shrapnel. He recuperated in Jerusalem, then on to Italy. Mum was teaching in Liverpool - the only lady teacher in a boys’ school. She travelled from North Wales to school every day. If there was an air - raid, her responsibility was to ensure that the boys remained in the air -aid shelters they were allocated - even if it meant dodging between shelters while the raid was on!! Mum and Dad loved each other. I have some of their letters. One or two are written so that they can only be read in a mirror! Must have taken a long time at both ends!

From North Africa on May 20th, 1943 my Dad wrote to “My own Darling Ellen”: “…Now listen - they can send me to any country in the world, even Hollywood, and I would never want anyone, only my Ellen, you my dear girl are life to me, and unless you are not with me , well I just feel like jumping in the river, but I can’t do that , there are no rivers around here……no-one, no-one….only you are ever going to be my wife…..”.

It was tough for them. They exchanged telegrams. But they could say only the briefest of messages. I have the originals.

One of the Telegrams was from Dad’s father and simply reads, “ Sorry to tell you Mother died my thoughts are with you God bless you. Dad Norbury”

In the middle of a terrible war, and with sadness all around nothing could stop their love.

28th August, 1942   “Loving birthday greetings All my love”

12th February 1944 “ Be home on Wednesday Night about eight All my love”

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And victory was coming. I have a copy of the original “SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY”, dated April 1945, from Field Marshall Alexandra, Supreme Allied Commander reading:

“Final victory is near. … You must be prepared for a hard bitter fight; but the end is quite certain - there is not the slightest shadow of doubt about that. You, who have won the battle, you who have fought, are going to win this last one. Forward then into battle with confidence, faith and determination to see it through to the end….”

 On May 14th 1945, just a few days after VE day Brigadier Block sent a circular letter to my Dad and CMTC, congratulating them on their “important part in winning the war”. He attached a circular from Field Marshall Alexander which contained these words, referring to the victory in Italy, ”You will look back with pride on your contributions”.

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How did they get through it all? I have a copy of a prayer suggested by the Padre for couples to remember each other each day. It ends “We pray Thee speed the day when we may meet in peace….” And they did!! Here I am to prove it!! Dad passed away when he was 55. Mum passed away just 3 years ago at the age of 97 and two months.

They are but one of the incredible stories of soldiers, their wives and families caught up in a war they did not start, but had to fight - at home and abroad.

And now 75 years later we battle against COVID 19. We are in it together. The battle is incredibly tough for so many. But what endured through the Second World War and beyond is love..common or garden…magnificent…love. Love will endure well beyond COVID 19.

Love never fails.” Those great words of wisdom are Bible words. So are these, “God is love”.

Re-visiting a time I did not know, circumstances I could hardly imagine and emotions so battered by life has made a big impact on me. Where would I be without their love? Where would I be without the incredible love of God - bigger than all my failures?

Mum and Dad sacrificed for our futures - like so many others. God sent His Son who sacrificed His life on the Cross of Calvary to rescue me - and everyone who puts their trust in Him.

They had the delight of being there on VE day. “The final victory” had been won. Great as that was - Jesus Christ did so much more. He defeated death and the grave. He has won the greatest final victory.

In a cynical world which often claims to believe nothing, the words of 1 Corinthians 13, verse 7 are still so true, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”

 And what about you? Who do you love? Who do you think loves you? If you know someone loves you - how wonderful is that - just like my Mum and Dad in the midst of the war. Whether some person loves you or not, one old hymn says it all.

And yet I know that it is true:
He came to this poor world below,
And wept and toiled, and mourned and died,
Only because He loved us so.
But, even could I see him die,
I could but see a little part
Of that great love which, like a fire,
Is always burning in his heart.
And yet I want to love Thee, Lord;
O light the flame within my heart,
And I will love Thee more and more,
Until I see Thee as Thou art.


In memory of Edwin Dennis Norbury and Ellen Eldridge (Norbury)

Dave Norbury

May 8th, 2020