V. E. Day

The 8th of May 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day, when the Germans signed an unconditional surrender that brought to an end six years of war across Europe. World War II finally came to an end a few months later when the Japanese surrendered in August 1945.

Sunday 13th May 1945 saw many services of thanksgiving at the churches around the town. Some street parties and pageants followed soon after VE Day, although many were held back to after VJ Day.

Photograph taken of children with bonfire in Worth Village on V.E. Day, 8th May 1945. Featured in the photograph are brothers Geoffrey Dobson (second from left) and Brian Dobson (third from right). The photograph was donated by History Society member Brian Dobson in 2017 and was scanned on behalf of the Society in June 2017. The actual photograph is retained in the physical archive.

People had already sensed that victory was on the horizon. As early as March 1945, Keighley and Craven Holiday Fellowship was putting plans in place for a victory dance, and in April Prince-Smith & Stells Ltd. committed to pay a bonus to every employee in the firm when victory was announced. Evacuees who had come to the town were already returning home. The munition works at Steeton Dump closed a week before VE Day as there was no need for the munitions any more.

Photograph of workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory at Steeton, taken in 1945. The Royal Ordnance Factory started producing munition components, including shells and cases, for use in the Second World War, in 1941. At its peak it employed more than 4,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. Its workforce was brought in by special trains and buses from 62 towns and villages in Yorkshire and Lancashire. The factory was commonly known as The Dump. It also housed a 1,000-seater canteen which hosted an ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) concert every fortnight. The photograph was donated by Jackie McGinnis. Additional information from the Keighley News.

Keighley had played its part during the war: many Regular Army units were stationed in and around the town at various times; empty mills were used to store tons of food and medical stores on behalf of the whole country; the town handled over 10,000 evacuees; the Keighley and District Spitfire and Hurricane Fund raised £10,000; men served in the Home Guard; women workers at Prince-Smith and Stells Ltd. produced bayonets for use on rifles; over a million pounds was raised during War Weapons Week; the National Switch Factory manufactured parts for radios used by the Resistance in Europe; and so on.

The names of 296 men of the borough who gave their lives during the Second World War are engraved on a brass plaque in Keighley Library.

Victory Party, 25th August 1945. Moss Street. Photograph taken by local photographer George A. Shore. Visit no 50 of his photos of end of War celebrations in Keighley. Shore simultaneously ran his photography business alongside a carpet and linoleum store in Keighley market.

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