V.E. Day is always thought of as a huge celebration for the end of the war in Europe. In some places it was just that. Street parties, bands, lots of flag waving. V.E. Day in Wing was slightly different.
On the 9th April 1945, R.A.F. Wing became one of the repatriation airfields for Prisoners of War, as part of Operation Exodus. These prisoners were being released as the Allies surged further towards their end goal. The 8th May fell 6 weeks into the Operation, by the end, 2 weeks later, Wing would have seen a total of 1,269 planes landed, carrying 32,822 men. Though British servicemen made up the bulk of those landing, there was also a large contingent from the Empire and beyond, showing just what a global war it was. The men were often cheered as they drove through the village.
Wing had been hard hit by the war in the Far East. Several men had died at the fall of Singapore and in PoW camps, held by the Japanese. One of these was John Horn, son of the Estate Manager, who worked in a bank in Leighton Buzzard. The feeling on the 8th was mixed. People were torn between celebrating victory in Europe, with a ‘feeling of deliverance from great danger’, and the continuing fight, some of which included Wing men.
There were signs of rejoicing. Houses were beflagged, the bells were rung within minutes of Churchill’s proclamation, and the 7.30pm Evensong service saw a full church. The Vicar had timed the service so everyone could get home to hear the King’s broadcast at 9pm. The street parties and true celebrations would wait until V.J. Day.