On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered to the Allied Forces. This signaled the end of fighting in Europe in the Second World War.


The Canadian Encyclopedia. VE Day

Wikipedia. Victory in Europe Day

Although this happened before I was born, I remember my father telling me about his memories of this. He was a young boy in Canada. His older brother showed up in his classroom and informed the teacher that they were going home because there was victory in Europe and the day had been declared a holiday.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince my father to add his personal recollection here.


What memories do you have of this event? How did you and the people in your life feel about it?


15 thoughts on “Victory in Europe

  1. James Bruce Lillie
    In May of 1945 I was in Kindergarden at Queen Victoria Grade School in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
    The school had a large plaque in the main hall with the names of all the school boys who died in the 1914 war. Midmorning my brother, 3 years older, came in with a message for the teacher from the Principle. Then he came to me, got my coat, and we left for home ??? School was dismissed! Mother explained that the big war in Europe was over; the day before my 6th birthday. Her brothers were all in service, and would be coming home.


  2. James BRUCE Lillie
    My middle name is from my Mother’s favorite brother, Bruce Taylor, who was a Canadian RAF bomber pilot. He returned home to Toronto with an English bride. A small boy was gifted with a real set of adult pilot goggles !! Practical result that winter was that with my arm over my mouth, I could -walk- past the Catholic schoolyard, take a chunk of ice direct to the face, and IGNORE it !


  3. My uncle Garnet Taylor was a Master Pipe-Fitter [?] with a small farm north of Toronto near Richmond Hill. After the war he bought an army jeep and retired ‘Old Bess’ the plow horse. The jeep would handle his small plow. and easily unhitched for other errands. One day he had the canvas top installed; I & several other small boys were in back.The driveway bent to face the other way. Without slowing down, he drove past, snapped a ‘U’ turn, and ran up the driveway. Without the canvas top we boys would have been strewn across the ditch.. WWHHEEeee….

    Note said I should enter some bio for reference.
    James Bruce Lillie — Born 9 May 39 in Salvation Army Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We lived on Queen St W in Parkdale district. Big ‘High Park’ closeby, Lake Ontario shore 2 blocks south, big carnival every summer.
    Father built a cottage off the Severn River 90 miles North; Grandfather & Uncle Jack there too. Attended Queen Victoria Grade School until we emigrated to the US spring of ’51[?]. Father had worked on the Misquitto F/B during the war, then was a draftsman/engineer for the Ontario Hydroelectric Power Co.
    Ordered to stop advanced work or be sued; we moved to Amherst, a suburb north side of Buffalo NY, and he became a non-degreed engineer at Bell Aircraft.
    Graduated from Amherst Central HS. Attended Union College Schenectady NY 3 years; met a girl.
    3 years in the army, 61-64, 69th Ordnance Co Vicenza Italy, Nuclear Weapons tech SP-5. That was E5 sgt in 2 years.
    Returned home & naive girl said ‘Yes’. 52+ years later; 2 daughters, 4 GRANDkids. Let me tell you about my kids…….
    Returned to school, University of South Florida, Tampa. Bs & Ms in electrical engineering, Digital design engineer Martin Pager, pre-cellphone. Cincinnati Electronics Air Rescue system, control logic & on-board flight test engineer. IBM Boulder R&D; design & build technology test robots for first ink jet printers.
    Recurring medical problems, chronic fatigue limited recovery. IBM Burlington Vt poor recovery from 2nd double bypass, medical retirement about ’92.
    Vermont winters hit both of us. 8 years ago we moved from a 6 bedroom/basement/garage house to a 2 bedroom apt in NC. Frustration, medium problems, little possible activity. Others much worse off. But after 3rd bypass in ’11 I FLATLINED.

    Luckily AmyBeth is mostly her mother. Blame anything else on her father.
    Edit as prudent.


  4. Family story said Grandma Taylor was part of a women’s circle knitting & sewing clothes for the Red Cross to give to servicemen. Then she came in to say goodby. My uncle Bruce Taylor traveling between posts had his luggage stolen. He applied to the RC for socks etc to get him to the next post. They required an itemized list of everything lost — countersigned by his unit commander ! Which one, the old or new? Grandmother would continue with the clothes, but send direct to her boys.


  5. Family story – Uncle Bob – ROBERT LILLIE – was top pistol expert. Problem in BOQ. At ‘lights out’ officer nearest switch would turn them back on, to read while everyone else was trying to get to sleep. One night being yelled at he said ‘turn them off yourself’. BLAM. No light switch, lights out.


  6. About 1947 my unmarried Aunt Marion Lillie commented that her generation of men went off to war, and half those who returned brought brides. Even an 8 year-old noticed that she lived with her parents, social life was the local church, & dressed ‘conservative / professional’. Even my Mother dressed more attractively. Aunt Marion was ‘Bursar’, or financial officer at a college with the University of Toronto. Apartment off-campus; eat regularly at the faculty dining hall; campus social events with [unmarried] junior faculty….
    I kept my little mouth shut!

    Family story years later. She went to retire, and was asked to stay on; they could not find a replacement. Then her job was split up between 3 or 4 men, lowest salary higher than she had been paid.


  7. The Canadian Army was volunteer. Late 40’s they had a High School Cadet program. My brother Frank could spend a Saturday at the range; lugging ammo; test firing various weapons; picking up fired brass; disassembling, cleaning, & re-assembling a Bren light machine gun …….

    Summer maneuvers he was assigned to a Field Artillery spotter post. He found a big thorn thicket with a good view — center is open ! They laid a dummy phone line, & hid theirs while Frank cut a crawlway into the open center. Last man in pulled the cuttings back into place. Very effective call-fire ! Enemy figured out where they had to be – squad walked right past the thicket. Platoon walked around… Large group shoulder to shoulder – split at thorn thicket, reformed, kept on going. Artillery Observer was delighted with Frank’s suggestion.


  8. Start of war. Folklore probably drasticly wrong.
    Sep 38 Britain declares ‘at War with Germany.’ Canadian cabinet starts debate, they are going to vote YES, but want all sides to speak on-the-record. British government annoyed at delay. The COLONIAL Office declares the DOMINION of Canada ‘at war with Germany’.


  9. About ’46 / ’47 my brother & I came home from school. Mother had been grocery shopping and was excited. She called us to the kitchen, and gave each of us some thing chewy & sweet to eat. DATE ! They had been gone so long we children could not remember them.


  10. After the war surplus included rations. C-ration chocolate was not a candy desert, but a high-calorie emergency food. Hiking with a ration bar in pocket/pack, stop & shave a curl to suck on, sips of water from a canteen [army]. Mother might be annoyed boys were not back for a proper lunch.


  11. About ’48/49 I had a new best friend at school; UGIS LAMMA. His family were refugees from Latvia or Lithuania. Our new principle would pull us from class for errands. One day he had an urgent report for the Board of Education. We were given the report, directions, streetcar fare, & a note we were not truants. I knew the city & transport, transfers etc. No problem traveling & delivering the report.

    Then we were free!! I marched Ugis around the corner and down to the Royal Ontario Natural History Museum — a world class institution. Our note got us free admission. We spent an hour sampling the exhibits, then I took him home.

    They had a big storage room over a store, with blankets hung to make rooms. Ugis spoke/read/wrote basic English. His parents were using Donald Duck comics as primers. I still cannot imagine the difference between a Baltic city, fought over at least twice, and occupied by the Russian army — vs — Toronto; peaceful, utilities, transportation, stores with food & clothes, occasional police directing traffic, NO military…


  12. After the war, sometimes, when father was not home — Frank & I would open his desk drawer. In the back corner was a clasp knife. Single blade folding pocket knife 5 or 6″ long and very sharp. This was a gift from a refugee dad befriended at work. He had used it to get his family from central Europe to the west. Then England, Canada, Toronto: and a new life. He did not wish to posses it, nor throw it away. So he passed it to father, who never carried it but left it in the back corner of his desk drawer.

    — used —


  13. In Flander’s fields ; the poppies grow.
    Between the crosses ; row on row.

    As a cub scout I was in uniform on Nov 11th, “Poppie Day”, with a tray of paper poppie flowers and a donation jar. They were priceless. Any donation, a nickle or a dollar. Most men & many women wore them on collar or lapel.

    Several years ago I was ordering shirts from Canada & asked the lady if any were available. She included one with my order.


  14. I had family fighting in different ways on both sides of World War II.

    My maternal grandfather lived in Austria, so he was conscripted into the Nazis Army. He ended up fighting on the Russian Front. He didn’t tell any of us grandchildren any stories. All the stories I’ve heard about him in terms of WWII have been from my grandmother, who lived through WWII working in a German Hotel (but she’s Austrian as well). My grandfather was in the tank divisions, he drove a Panzer tank and was lucky to not get caught in any when they blew up. There were quite a few stories of near misses for him. When the cease-fire was called, they were supposed to surrender where they where. My grandfather did not want to surrender to the Russians, so he took his life in his hands as he made is way to US controlled Austria so he could surrender.

    My paternal grandmother worked for the war service in the UK. This was usual because she was from Southern Ireland. Even getting the clearance to work there would have been hard. She never told us any stories about the war. But among her effects that we got to see after she passed was a certificate of recognition from the UK government for her work in aiding to sink the Bismark! We still have it to this day.
    That would have been something I would have loved to hear her talk about.

    Both families chose to immigrate from Austria & England (originally Ireland) to Canada where they made successful lives for themselves.

    (Born in late 1978)


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