Remembering VE Day in Port Sunlight

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If the events of May 8, 1945 proved to be a momentous day for servicemen and their wives and girlfriends, it was also a unique experience for the children of Great Britain and Wirral was no exception.

Mike Garnett lived in Port Sunlight with his family at his grandparent’s house on Greendale Road when victory over Germany was finally declared.

Now 83 and residing in Heswall, he recalls what it was like as an eight-year-old when he heard the news and the celebrations that followed.

He said: “After living with a family in North Wales for a time with my sister Barbara and my mum, we were back staying with my grandparents, Pheobe and Jack Venables.

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“It was all on the radio. Everybody was dancing in the streets. We had a party in an area nearby to our house called The Fender – which was called that because it was shaped like the surround on a fire.

“All the tables and chairs were up and we were all there. We had jellies and cream and stuff like that. Anything we could rustle up out of the ration books.

“I remember we listened to Churchill’s speech that night. It was a big deal.”

Wirral Globe: Elsewhere in Wirral, children celebrate at Greasby School. Photo from Pam Graham nee Foulds, front row, second from leftElsewhere in Wirral, children celebrate at Greasby School. Photo from Pam Graham nee Foulds, front row, second from left

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Mike attended Church Drive Primary School at the time and recalls how children used to be given an orange ‘Micky Mouse’ gas mask that had to be taken to school each day otherwise they would be sent home.

He also recalls the first time his grandmother, Pheobe, tried her own mask on, seeking the approval of husband Jack.

“What do you think?” she asked. “You’ve had your hair done?” he replied.

Wirral Globe: The Blaylock family outside their Dacre Street home in Birkenhead. Photo provided by Sue DonnellyThe Blaylock family outside their Dacre Street home in Birkenhead. Photo provided by Sue Donnelly

Mike’s most significant day however was yet to come. He said: “My uncle George was in the RAF and used to come home on leave and take his belt off. It was over the side of the couch.

“I came home from school one day and said “Is Uncle George home?” but I was told “no, it’s your father.”

“My dad was home from India. He came down the stairs and I didn’t even know who he was. It was terrible.

“I hadn’t seen him for nearly five years. I was only young, of course.

“The first thing I said to him was – who are you?’”

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