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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

County Durham celebrates VJ Day

Part of an online exhibition from Durham County Record Office commemorating the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe on 8 May 1945

 
Soldiers from B Company, 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in Kangaroo armoured carrier, Germany, late March 1945 (D/DLI Acc: 10050)

Local newspapers describe how Victory over Japan was another occasion for celebration across County Durham on 15 August 1945.

The Northern Echo, Wednesday 15 August 1945 (D/Dor 7/5)
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The Northern Echo, Wednesday 15 August 1945 (D/Dor 7/5). Image © reproduced with kind permission of Newsquest Media Group Ltd.

Bishop Auckland
'Many of the residents did not know that Japan had surrendered until breakfast time, though many were disturbed by fireworks towards one o'clock, after the Prime Minister's announcement... By daylight... the town soon began to have a festive appearance... In the front of the Town Hall the word "Victory" was emblazoned in bold white lettering fitted with red, white and blue electric bulbs... Street parties were the vogue'.
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Bishop Auckland
'Harassed housewives were up early in the morning of Wednesday making a quick tour of the shops. Bread was shortage No1... Tobacconists shops were besieged, and greengrocers had a particularly hectic time. Beer was also in short supply and the conspicuous "No beer" signs were displayed in most of the licensed premises.'
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Byers Green
'Until Wednesday there were no signs of any arrangements for V-Day celebrations... Through hard work by a hastily formed committee, however, all arrangements were soon completed for a parade headed by Sunnybrow Colliery, a field day, tea for the children, free dance in the Social Services Centre in the evening... All children received sixpence and a free tea.' 
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Dean Bank
'VJ celebrations were enjoyed in the Ferryhill district on Saturday. The sun shone brilliantly, and residents of Stephenson Street, Dean Bank, disported themselves in the open air... Tea was served in the street to some 420. Each child received 1s... In the evening adults were entertained to a social evening in the ambulance hall.' 
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Howden le Wear
'One of the jolliest and most successful VJ parties in Howden le Wear was that arranged by the residents of Valley Terrace on Saturday. No effort was spared to make the celebrations as successful as possible... Programme comprised fancy dress parade, sports for all... including grinning through horse collar, whilst all the residents young and old received tea.'  
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Willington
'News of the Japanese surrender, and the ending of the war, was received with joy and thankfulness in Willington. Immediately after Tuesday midnight, houses were flooded with light, and people, old and young, flocked into the streets, singing and dancing. Bonfires were lit and community singing went on until daybreak. Throughout Wednesday, neighbours and friends in almost all the streets collected money or food to give the children a Victory tea... On Thursday, Nelson Street residents gave tea to 63 children in the air raid shelter, which was lighted and decorated.'  
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

Wolsingham
'Peace came suddenly, and Wolsingham Peace Celebrations Committee lost no time in calling a meeting... On the Wednesday an open-air dance took place and... the bonfire, with the help of the loud-speaker van playing marches and dances, attracted large crowds.' 
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945

South West Durham
'Despite dull skies which displaced early morning sunshine, the programmes which had been prepared for Victory celebrations in South West Durham towns and villages on Saturday were carried through without a hitch. Little rain fell in the area, in marked contrast with the downpour experienced in London.' 
Auckland Chronicle, 23 August 1945.

Back to 'We have come through' - remembering VE Day 1945 exhibition homepage.