Eve Diett remembers VE Day

Eve Diett

“The whole Hatchett family and myself were haymaking when news came through that war had ended with Germany. I stayed most of the day pitching the hay into piles and was not sure what I was to do- carry on or celebrate.

Bob Hatchett solved my dilemma; he sprinted across the field towards me, retrieved the pitchfork from my hand and said, You are going home to celebrate right now. I have the car in the lane.’

His brother, Steve, protested, ‘What about the hay? Bugger the hay, you inconsiderate pig, this young girl is off home now to celebrate with the rest of her colleagues.’

On the way he remarked, ‘That brother of mine is beyond me, no consideration at all. He should have downed tools when the news first came over the radio and taken you home. I suppose you realise he is stony broke, lazy sod, keeps asking for handouts from our dad, spends half his time in bed in the mornings.’

I know all about it,’ I replied, ‘well, get away from here, that is my advice to you, it’s only going to get worse.

On arriving in the town, it was so packed with crowds of people, soldiers, airmen, American, Polish, they were all whooping it up – it was a sight to behold. Traffic had come to a complete standstill. Everyone, young or old, was dancing and waving a Union Jack. Some had climbed lampposts and were tying flags and balloons around the tops.

Bob said, ‘Go on Eve, join the throng and enjoy yourself. Forget the farm, come back next week and hand in your notice to that brother of mine. Go on now, live it up,’ he let out a deep sigh, ‘wish I was coming with you.’

On stepping out of the car I thanked him and before I knew what was happening I was whisked away by a handsome Yank. ‘Come on Honey, let’s dance.’ We danced around the lampposts, the parked vehicles that had just been abandoned by their owners, and up and down the steps of the local council offices. Various bottles of drink were passed around which was a mystery – perhaps the pubs along the streets were issuing it out.

Shaun (my dancing partner) said, ‘Sugar, who cares? The war is over, we are happy, let’s drink and be merry!’ Oh, how I wished it was Tom I was celebrating with …

‘Oh Brown Eyes! Come on, don’t look so sad, let’s dance the rumba,’ said my Yank partner.

l tried to escape after a while, it was getting too much, I wanted to get home and change into a cotton dress, something cool, I was so hot and sticky in my uniform. It was a perfect day with the sunshine and all I wanted was to be with my family, and then to join the celebrations which would most likely go on through the night.

‘Just hang in there now Shaun,’ I said, ‘I must leave you and head for home.’ ‘Oh good,’ he replied, ‘ I’II come too.’ ‘No, I don’t think so,’ I retorted.

‘Then meet me later, Brown Eyes,’ he called after me as I made my way through the crowd.

‘Maybe,’ I called back, ‘maybe!’ It took me a good hour to battle my way through the crowds.

On my way I was hugged by a sailor, kissed by an elderly gentleman who said “God bless you dear”, I danced with a group of young Air Force cadets and ended up in the middle of the longest conga I have ever seen, but eventually broke away and ran home.

Eve Diett in her later years.

After changing into my cool cotton dress and sandals I sat for a while in the garden. My aunt was resting in the cool of her bedroom, and the rest of the family were out visiting. I felt I needed to sit alone for a while and think. It was warm and comfortable with the sun shining onto my face, my eyelids began to feel heavy, and then slowly closed.

The sun was warm on my bare arms, and listening to the almost silence I sat there wallowing in the luxury of the sensation, my mind raced to Tom and what might have been. Refusing to believe the finality of it all, and of all those thousands of people who, like me, had lost a loved one. Oh, the senselessness of it all, the sheer waste of young lives. Why … oh why? What was it all for? I asked myself time and time again.

Eve Diett, Here Come the Land Girls (Blackie & Co, 2006), pp.142-144

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