When the war in Europe ended my dad was stationed at a transit camp in Sidney, Australia waiting for onward transport to the Admiralty Islands (present day Papua New Guinea). He was on his way to join his unit in the British Pacific Fleet.
He wrote in his diary:
On Tuesday 8th May 1945 the newspapers were head-lined "It’s all over in Europe" and gave histories of the last five years.
Flags were flying in Sydney but no crowds surged through the streets. We made sure our rooms were booked at the British Centre and went for a drink to celebrate Victory. A couple of drunken sailors were the only signs of the momentous day it was.
At seven o’clock we were steaming out of Central Station just as the city began to warm up and celebrate. Australian trains are horrible. They are uncomfortable, slow, draughty and Heaven knows what else, in fact not a patch on the good old L.M.S. [London, Midland and Scottish Railway.]
The only interesting part of the journey was an old man of 83 who got on at Penorth and who had emigrated here when he was 19. He had many interesting stories of the old days.
We arrived at Katoomba, highest point in the Blue Mountains about 10p.m. and after eating – the inevitable steak – got to our hotel just in time to hear Churchill’s speech.
Soon we were in bed, well wrapped up as this is very much colder than Sydney.
I found this clip of Churchill's speech on Youtube. I thought it was interesting that as well as announcing the end of the war in Europe Churchill went on to talk about the Japanese threat in the Pacific.
At the time of VE Day the war in the Pacific against Japan wasn't regarded as particularly important by the British public or indeed the majority of Britain's serving men and women. The Government propaganda machine had to work hard to persuade people to support the Pacific War.
My dad was a radio mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy. He travelled on a troop ship from Liverpool via the Panama Canal to Australia. The journey took about four weeks. He had to wait in Sidney, Australia for a further six weeks before he sailed on HMS Arbiter to Ponam Island, a tiny coral island about 2000 miles north of Australia.
I've put my dad's diary and my background research into an ebook "I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety". This post is re-blogged from my blog of the same title where there are some photos of Ponam Island if you follow this link.