Thomas Dunsmuir Hartman Remembers VE Night.
Victory in Europe May 8th 1945
Another bite sized chunk of Blantyre History
We had a territorial drill hall for the Scottish Cameronians Rifles Regiment in Logan Street where a lot of soldering went on and never more so as on the 3 September 1939 when war was declared, you could not move up or down the street because of the amount of bodies, all trying to enroll in the army, they were shipping them out by the truck loads, where to, I never did find out.
They were all so keen to go.
Next to the drill hall was the place I mentioned called St John’s Wood, This was an area of about 3 acres of trees and ran between Church Street and Logan Street, it was in here we held one of the greatest parties every held in Blantyre, that was VE NIGHT. VICTORY IN EUROPE May 8th 1945.
What a party that was, the atmosphere was to say the least electrified everyone was everyone’s best friend and nothing you said or did was out of place, I know that night there was a feeling in the air that life could not get any better than what you felt that night, sure there was a fair amount of alcohol about but that was not what gave most of us this feeling of euphoria, It was great to see a friend and look him in the eye knowing that you both now had a chance to do things in the future without that cloud hanging over your head, the threat of instant death and the dread of a call up into the army were both wiped away and you could plan for the future. I was only a youth of 15 and yet I felt that awareness to my future, a relief I only ever experienced that once, but having know it can still be recalled today to write about. It is and will remain one of the prized memories of my life. I do hope that my friends and neighbors have the same satisfaction in their recall. IT WAS A GREAT NIGHT!!
I had a call from my old buddy John who lives up in Canada and we were talking about V E Night, he told me the tale of the V E Night celebrations they had up in High Blantyre where John came from. John would be about 13 years old.
That day May 8th 1945 everyone was throwing out on the curb all their old furniture and anything that was burnable for the kids to pick up for the big bonfire which was being prepared for that night at High Blantyre Cross, if it could burn and was not tied down to something, it was put on the fire. John and a couple of his wee pals happened to see a lot of kids moving a pile of wood and decided to give them a hand, Little did they know or care that this wood was a private stock from a lumber yard OR SO THE STORY GOES.
Everything was going well up until the police arrived on the scene and low and behold only John and his three mates were caught in the act. The Police loaded up the wood they were supposed to have been taking to the bonfire in a small van that they had arrived in. This was to be used as evidence.
The four of them were charged with stealing the wood and had to appear at the Hamilton Court, When they did appear at the Court they were fined 5 Shillings each and were surprised to hear that that the amount of wood they were supposed to have stolen was 9 tons and if that was true can you imagine the size of that bonfire. 9 tons of wood plus all of the other stuff that had been thrown out. That had to have been some BIG! BIG! FIRE.
John did say that this was his great memory of V E Night and one he is very proud of.
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