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Holmes Chapel on VE Day 1945

The Second World War had been going on since 1939 and the world had changed even for people in the relatively remote village of Holmes Chapel. Many men and women had joined the services and left the area. However, unlike the First World War the community at home was very much involved in the war machine.

The wallpaper factory was now producing munitions which were stored at a Royal Army Ordinance Corps depot along Manor Lane. There was an airfield at Cranage from which flying missions attacking enemy aircraft took place. In Byley there was a factory where Wellington Bombers were constructed. There were troops billeted in the village; evacuees living with families; American servicemen had stayed at the Hermitage and Sandiford Cottage; Italian and German POWs had stayed at the Bull and Sandiford Cottage; and people were subject to rationing, growing their own food, and even grass verges were ploughed up to "Dig for Victory".

And then on May 7th 1945 reports came through on the wireless that the war in Europe was over and VE Day was declared for Tuesday May 8th. Not many people are now alive who can remember that day in Holmes Chapel but we have learnt that it was a day of spontaneous celebration centred on the Good Companions Hotel which was on the site of Lovell Court in the centre of the village. This was a brand new hotel only opened just before the war and had a large car park at the front. This became the location for drinking and dancing well into the night. A band played from a flat bed trailer which had been brought along.

There are reports of flags displayed around the village but sadly no photographs have been found to confirm this. No doubt it was more important to celebrate than take photographs.

Following a day of celebration, apart from thanksgiving services and peels of bells, it appears life went back to normal and people gradually adjusted to peace time although rationing continued and in fact became more severe in the years to come. This may have influenced the Parish Council who decided not to support the Victory Celebrations planned for June 1946 proposed by the government. Clearly for the village of Holmes Chapel one day of celebration was enough.

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