VE Day in Swaffham in 1945
Swaffham’s celebrations on VE-Day in 1945 started with the “ringing and firing” of church bells before the final decorations were hung out – and by noon the whole town was a blaze of flags and bunting.
There was a sporting flavour to the afternoon events, with a football match arranged between a team from the Royal Tank Regiment and a team selected by Mr F Larwood and Mr G Head. The soldiers defeated the town team by 6-3.
After the match the military team entertained the Swaffham players to tea at the YMCA and in the evening the same regiment organised a dance at the drill hall, with free entry to all who attended.
On the Wednesday (9th) the celebrations continued with a dance organised by the Cadet Force at the drill hall for the “Welcome Home” fund; after the dance the orchestra moved to the Market Hill to continue playing for dancing which continued until the early hours.
Also during the evening the Market Place was packed as the town band, conducted by Mr W Austin, played selections until dusk when the illuminations prepared by the East Anglian Electric Supply Co were switched on. Dancing continued until midnight, fireworks were let off and bonfires were lit.
A beam from Messrs Plowright’s showrooms lit the church steeple – a distance of about 200 yards – very effectively. At SS Peter and Paul’s church on Sunday afternoon (13th) a united thanksgiving service was held with a large congregation present; it was conducted by the Rev P Palmer, assisted by the Rev C Beckett (Baptist) and Capt S Boswell (Salvation Army) and the choir was augmented from the other churches.
One of the biggest parades seen in Swaffham assembled on the Market Place and, after marching round the Market Hill, headed by the Town Band, continued to the parish church for the service. Major F Carpenter was the parade marshal and it included members of the Urban Council, British Legion, Home Guard, Police and Special Constables, Civil Defence services, Voluntary Aid Detachment, St John Ambulance Brigade, WVS, Air Training Corps, Norfolk Artillery Cadet Corps, Royal Observer Corps, Girl Guides and Brownies. After the service the dismiss was given on the Market Hill.