VE Day message from Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Islington Dr. Charles Goodson-Wickes

Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes arrives at Arlington Square

Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes arrives at Arlington Square - Credit: Archant

A VE Day message from Dr. Charles Goodson-Wickes, DL

Representative Deputy Lieutenant, Islington

President, Islington Veterans Association.

Formerly Surgeon Lieutenant Colonel, The Life Guards.

“One of the very few benefits of the coronavirus shutdown is that families have time for reflection -either in person or via the telephone or internet.

The 75th Anniversary of VE Day on May 8 will give those Veteran servicemen and women (sadly a dwindling number) a chance to revive their memories and to reminisce with later generations- even if they had previously been reluctant to talk about their experiences. Oral history is such an important part of our heritage.

This commemoration gives us all the chance to reflect on our freedom from tyranny in Europe- won through a common national effort.

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Islington and Finsbury, of course, did their part in the conflict. Some 2,000 military personnel from the two boroughs laid down their lives during the war.

However it is all too easy to forget two other aspects - civilian casualties, and the role that women played on the ‘home front’ in times of great hardship.

Apart from keeping a home together, women often worked in munition factories, digging for victory, or serving with the WVS for air raid precautions- with all the uncertainty as to whether they would see husbands, or loved ones again.

Earlier in the year we gathered at the plaque at Highbury Corner in a moving ceremony to remember those who died on May 27 1944 as the result of a V1 attack. This so-called “vengeance attack” was in response to the successful D Day landings 21 days previously.

Twenty-eight civilians lost their lives there, including a four-year-old girl.

However, the figure that puts it all into perspective - and which is in marked contrast to WW1 statistics – is that a staggering total of 1,423 Islingtonians and Finsburyites were killed

(and over 5,000 seriously injured) in attacks either during the Blitz in 1940/41, or later by V1 doodlebugs and V2 rockets. These weapons struck widely and indiscriminately from Mackenzie Road, Holloway in the north (Boxing Day 1944 - 73 killed) to Farringdon in the south, as late as March 8 1945 ( 129 killed).

How frustrating it is to be deprived of all the Events planned to mark VE Day However there will be a two minute silence at 11am on May 8 and we can raise our glasses to toast the nation at 3pm. Singing along with a Royal British Legion broadcast that evening will cheer us all up, as a prelude to the Queen‘s broadcast at 9pm.

With any luck we can look forward to a combined Event for VE Day and VJ Day on the weekend of August 15 to mark the final end of the Second World War. It will be well worth waiting for.”