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The head blew off an effigy of Hitler stuffed with gunpowder – local VE Day celebrations in 1945

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The front page of the Lymington Times, 12th May 1945, detailing the local celebrations days earlier
The front page of the Lymington Times, 12th May 1945, detailing the local celebrations days earlier

LYMINGTON went “wild with excitement” as the war in Europe finally came to an end with residents defying the authorities to light huge bonfires in the High Street.

On the night of Tuesday 8th May people sang and danced around the blaze until 2am having burned anything they could lay their hands on – including pilfered signs and window boxes.

The government had imposed a ban on such celebrations within five miles of the coast, in case there were still German submarines operating, so when another bonfire was lit the following night police tried to intervene.

“The police made unavailing efforts to prevent a repetition of this form of revelry,” the A&T reported. “But they were not only greatly outnumbered by the celebrating burgesses but also by the fact that when attempts were made to extinguish the fire at the junction of New Street, the crowd started another one further up the road opposite Messrs. Dawsons. When one fire was reduced in size the other was stoked up.”

The police eventually decided to give up and once again residents stayed singing

and dancing until the early hours.

One spectator told the A&T that excited soldiers stripped to the waist and threw some of their clothes onto the fire.

He said: “Then there was more excitement when some daring soldiers ran through the flames, which were five or six feet high, and afterwards some of them picked up girls in their arms and carried them through – giving them a real baptism of fire!

“They were just cheerful and happy, and mostly young people, and I think the police did the wise thing in letting them have their bonfire... Lymington will long remember both VE nights.”

Villagers in Hordle also had a bonfire on the recreation ground with around 250 children enjoying sports and a special tea. The highlight was when an effigy of Hitler wearing an enormous Iron Cross and stuffed with gunpowder was set ablaze and the head blew off.

At New Milton there was a children’s fancy dress procession and a big crowd danced on the corner of Station Road and Old Milton Road.

Members of Milton Unionist Club and Lymington Conservative Club were given free beer, and mail accumulated at New Milton and Lymington Royal Mail offices as the sorters had two days off.

Residents of Fawcett Road, New Milton, put on an impromptu street party for their children with mums busy baking and scouring their larders for rare treats. There was plenty left for supper round a bonfire and the merry-making continued until 1am.

On the following Sunday around 1,500 people took part in a united service of thanksgiving for victory held on New Milton recreation ground.

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