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VE Day

The sight that met our eyes was frightening. After more than four long years as prisoners of war, to be freed and to be set down in a few short days in London on VE-Day was an experience that left us wide-eyed in astonishment.

The whole population of London was stark raving mad with happiness. Men and women were hugging and kissing everyone within reach. Every statue, every lamp post, every window was draped with people screaming and shouting. Every bell from every steeple was ringing. The bedlam was a joyous sound like nothing we had ever heard.

On April 27, 1945, units of the British 2nd Army surrounded Prisoner of War Camp Marlag and Milag Nord, located midway between Bremen and Hamburg, Germany. The next morning we heard the sound of bagpipes playing "With a hundred pipers and a' and a'" and then British troops came following the pipers down the road leading to the camp. What a beautiful sight. We were free.

After a few days we were flown to a dispersement camp outside London. From here, we were taken to Liverpool to board the Isle de France with thousands of other prisoners of war bound for Canada.

Being isolated from the free world for so long – what changes had taken place? What had happened to our friends and relatives? What are they like now? What should we do? In our state of mind, the thought of going home immediately was too terrifying to consider and so a few friends and I decided to skip camp and head for London to see it in all its glory with lights ablazing.

We arrived in London on the morning of VE-Day with no place to stay and not knowing where to go. We were eventually directed to a hotel frequented by naval personnel and, after informing the manager from where we had come, he immediately found accommodation for us. After settling in our rooms, my friends and I headed for the streets of London and the most glorious celebration of all time.

George Shaker
47 Geraldtown Crescent
Willowdale, ON M2J 2R5

April 3, 1985

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