VE Day Memories from Hazel Freeston

Well done to Colin for stirring us up about VE day memories. Needless to say, I am the person he mentions and my brother Brian, twin sister Cherry and I remember him well.                                                                                  

Some Memories of VE Day

After coming out of London at the beginning of the war and moving around a bit we finally moved into a large house overlooking the common in Dunsfold in May 1943. We were lucky in that we did not have any family serving in the forces. My father was too old to join up and the only relative we knew in the army had come through Dunkirk unscathed. It was quite an exciting time for us youngsters. Of course, we hardly remembered peace time, so everything was quite new for us.

The aerodrome at Dunsfold had been constructed by the Canadians in 1942 and was top secret. I have seen it described as England’s forgotten aerodrome, but that was obviously before it was used by the BBC for filming Top Gear, but that’s another story! (It’s soon to become a “new town” it seems.)

My particular memory of VE day was being woken by our mother in the small hours of May 8th 1945 and being taken to our top floor room to be shown the bonfire that had been built over several weeks by the ‘Bonfire Boys’ burning merrily! Mum said that as it’s got set alight early we might as well watch it! Very clear in my memory was that she made us all a cup of tea and I believe we even had a biscuit each, pretty well unheard of, especially at 3am. It later transpired that some Canadians had come down from the aerodrome and as part of their celebrations had set light to the Bonfire Boys pride and joy! You can only imagine the outcry from them and all the village the next morning. It could have been war, but all would be well. Very soon and all that day lorries were coming from the aerodrome with more and more rubbish and things to burn! Can’t think where it all came from so fast but suffice it to say that the Canadian bonfire was ready to be the star of the celebrations that evening.

Everyone felt more kindly towards our friends from across the Atlantic (they had helped us win the war after all!). We never heard the details of what went on in the camp and whether any of the miscreants had been charged, but who cared? We had our bonfire and some of us living near the common had seen it twice. Not even sure that Colin was aware of the exciting developments. Maybe people who lived further down in the village knew nothing of it unless they had seen a tell-tale light in the sky at 3am.

We had been too young to join the procession that Colin describes so vividly but despite missing out on the beer have never forgotten the tea and biscuits in the middle of the night.

Would be interested to hear if any other Dunsfold OGs can back up my story and I would enjoy reading other VE day Memories.

Hazel Freeston 8th May 2020

2 thoughts on “VE Day Memories from Hazel Freeston

  1. Hazel, my father Roy Bailey was one of the “Bonfire Boys” in Dunsfold, although he says his late brother Norman was much more active than he was. I can still remember him quoting verbatim “Remember, remember the fifth of November” from start to finish each Guy Fawkes Day. He remembers your family very well and also building the VE day bonfire with the other boys. He also remembers playing tennis with Colin Conway all those years ago (he is 91 years old now). My mother Joan was evacuated from London to Dunsfold during the war and is also an OGA together with her sister Renee and brother Roy.

    1. Hi Caroline
      Of course I remember all four Bailey boys, we thought they were all smashing! (word we used in those days!). I remember playing rounders on the green in front of the school and being backstop to Norman’s bowling. Wow! proud of myself that I caught the ball even though it made my hands hurt! Norman was one of the big boys to us and Roy even bigger!
      We were very friendly with Joan and Renee, did some acting with them, directed by brother Brian. Remember Joan particularly as Mrs Noah and Ham was John Stevenson and Cecil (Bailey) was Japhet. Not sure who Shem was, maybe Colin Stead or Roy (Armes)? Perhaps Joan remembers. Renee was always “our best friend” and we used to have a lot of fun.

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