VE Day Poster 7 – Major Events of 1945
Archives & Heritage Officer Philip Jeffs looks back at VE Day posters in the archives…
Perhaps the biggest event in Warrington during 1945, excepting of course VE Day and VJ Day, was a visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 7th March 1945. The Royal couple were welcomed by over 8,500 school children at the Town Hall and crowds lined the streets to watch the royal cavalcade pass by. On arrival the King addressed the crowd from the steps of the Town Hall and the Royal party along with the Mayor watched a military parade on the Town Hall lawns.
The visit to Warrington was part of a 2 day tour of Lancashire. Shortly before arriving in Warrington the Royals had visited a rehabilitation unit for soldiers at Winwick Hospital.
On 29th June 1945 Warrington’s Walking Day resumed for the first time since 1939. Not only was this the first Walking day in 5 years, it was also the first time the Americans troops in the town got to see our local festival. The Warrington Guardian recorded that “it was a revelation to our United States friends, of whom several thousands were in the crowds lining the route of the procession – indeed some of them were the proud fathers of children in the parade! – and one of the biggest cheers was given to a U.S. Army band that provided music on the way”.
The fitting theme of “Peace” was chosen for the 1945 Walking Day, and although the war continued against Japan, the people of Warrington were really beginning to feel that an end to the War was on its way.
One unusual event in Warrington after VJ Day was a visit by the town’s adopted warship HMS Obdurate, which travelled along the Ship Canal in October. The ship berthed at Naylor’s Wharf in Walton and thousands of locals took the opportunity of touring the ship.
During the War towns had been encouraged to raise enough funds to build a destroyer through holding “Warship Weeks” where residents were encouraged to buy Government bonds and savings certificates. Once constructed the town “adopted” that ship, with local charities sending the crew relief parcels, gloves, socks, and other treats. Local children were encouraged to write to the crew and representatives of the ship would attend important events in the town.
A strong connection was often built with the sponsor town, and even today the Warrington Sea Cadets’ unit is known as TS Obdurate.
One event that no doubt caused a great deal of celebrating was the re-opening of the Wilderspool Stadium for Rugby League matches. The stadium had been requisitioned by the Government for use as an emergency store since the early days of the War. The only sporting use the grounds had seen during the War was the occasional Exhibition Match of American Football put on by servicemen from Burtonwood Base.
1945 saw the return of league matches and Wilderspool hosted the Lancashire cup final between Wigan and Widnes with a crowd of 28000 spectators.
Whilst there were many more celebrations and re-openings in the months following VE Day and VJ Day, one final event which has to be mentioned is the Town Hall Victory Parade. The parade was organised by Colonel J. Hutchings, Commanding Officer of the local battalion of the Home Guard.
It was made up of representatives from the three armed forces, but also of the many other groups involved in the Town’s War effort. A selection of the organisations taking part is given below:
Fleet Air Arm
Army and Air Cadet Corps
Royal Observer Corps (Warrington and Cheshire Units)
St John Ambulance Brigade
British Red Cross Society (Daresbury and Warrington Division)
Rest Centre Service
Aircraft and Munition Workers
Women’s Land Army
Council of Social Services (including the Searcher Service)
Police and Special Constables
Boy Scouts and Girl Guides
Boy’s Brigade and Boy’s Clubs