- Mark Forsdike
Today being the anniversary of VE-Day, my thoughts are as usual drawn first to my grandfather, who on this day 77 years ago was still a prisoner of the Japanese, and to whom VE-Day would mean nothing,
then to the other men of the Suffolk Regiment who were stationed around Europe when the the German surrender came into effect.
The 1st Battalion had already left the area around Bremen where they finished their fighting war, and were in a new location at Bramsche near Osnabruuk. They became overnight occupation troops responsible for law and order in the maelstrom of victory. It was a tough switch for a fighting Battalion.
I have spent this evening going through a rather personal and unique archive; the letters of a Suffolk soldiers to his sweetheart, who became his fiancé and then his wife. In a battered wooden suitcase are the letters he wrote to her virtually every day, between March 1943 and September 1945. His letter from VE-Day was written over two days and spoke of how pleased he was that it was over and how he wished to be home with her again, but he would soon be transferred away from the Suffolk Regiment to serve his last months with the Essex Regiment. Theirs was a unique and personal archive, lovingly kept by her after his tragic early death, lost only to be rediscovered last year.
Whilst it is difficult to celebrate the achievement that was VE-Day with all that is happening in the world at present, it still deserves to be commemorated for from that point onwards our world today was shaped. For men like my grandfather, still in captivity, there was to be another four and a half months before they were released, but as Lord Mountbatten has always decreed, it would always have to be German that was defeated first, before all available men and materiel would be redirected to defeat Japan.