VE Day Poster 6 – American Celebrations
Archives & Heritage Officer Philip Jeffs looks back at VE Day posters in the archives…
One of the focal points for US Troops in Warrington was the American Red Cross Club on Sankey Street. On the declaration of VE Day the club announced that food would be free for 24 hours. The free food, a 48 hour pass granted to most servicemen, and the ongoing celebrations in town, meant the club was packed with Americans for VE Day.
On the day itself a Victory Dance was held with the Manhattan Band playing. Use of the club was opened to all Allied servicemen and the party went on all through the night. The dormitory at the club was completely filled and the Examiner reported that many of the men ended up sleeping in the lounge, the lobby, on billiard tables and ping pong tables, or on the floor wherever they could find space. One soldier played the piano until 4 o’clock in the morning whilst others danced and slept around him.
A Victory Dance was also held on the air base itself at Burtonwood. In hangar 220 on the Mary Ann site music was provided by Eddie Kistler’s Swing Tips and Roger’s Airmen. Three hundred women from various branches of the British services were called in as guests.
In this picture we see Carl Koegler of the United States Army Air Forces and H. Cavalier of the Royal Canadian Air force celebrating VE Day with local character Frank Norman. Mr Norman was a popular feature of the town, known for playing music in the streets from the gramophone he pushed about on a pram. In this picture we see that he has the wartime slogan of “keep smiling” still emblazoned on the pram, but has added a new one as well, “Next Step Home”, a sentiment any servicemen would be happy to celebrate.
Following VJ Day the Americans of Burtonwood Depot presented to the people of Warrington a bronze plaque in recognition of the “sincere friendship and warm hospitality extended to American Military personnel stationed here during the World War II”. Colonel Milo McCune stated at the presentation ceremony that “The Borough of Warrington will live long in our memories. It’s people extending kindness and good cheer, will long be remembered”.
The Mayor of Warrington, Councillor Boulting, thanked “our American Cousins” and noted that many would be returning to the USA with Warrington girls as their brides. He said that he was sure “you will take care of them and do all that you can to make them happy”.
Of course, the American troops also took part in a great many of the local celebrations across the town, including the first Walking Day to be held since 1939. The next poster tells you about a few of the bigger events that took place in Warrington as the War came to an end.