Remembering the victory of all victories

Wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial in Ashton Gardens to mark VE Day
Wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial in Ashton Gardens to mark VE Day
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Spencer Leader remembers hiding under the kitchen table as planes dropped bombs overhead.

And it is why he knows more than most the importance of remembering and paying tribute to those who fought and died for their country.

Mr Leader, 77, president of St Annes British Legion, led a moving service to celebrate the 70th anniversary of VE day and the end of the Second World War in Europe.

“It is so important to show our appreciation for events that have happened in the past,” said Mr Leader.

“Although I never fought in the war, I remember as a child how devastating it was.

“We used to spend full nights in the Anderson air-raid shelter we had in the garden, and sometimes huddled under the kitchen table if it was late at night and we couldn’t make it outside in time.

“On one occasion, when I was under the table with my parents when we heard a mighty whoosh and the sound of glass breaking.

“When we went outside the next morning our shelter – which we would have been in, had we been quicker getting out of bed when the siren sounded – was blown clean out of the ground. We didn’t use it too often after that.”

Several British Legion members laid wreaths during yesterday’s service at the Ashton War Memorial in St Annes, while Tony Hodgson, vicar at St Margaret’s church, did a reading.

“VE day was a hugely significant moment because it meant the end of Hitler and all the aggression towards our country,” added Mr Leader.

“Those six years of war were such hard times and the amount of deprivation in this country was incredible.

“We were nearly starved because we weren’t producing enough food of our own and the Germans were preventing any more from coming in.

“So as well as the people who lost their lives trying to protect this country – in the navy, the army, the air-force - there were also countless normal folk who pitched in to help the war effort.

“Marking VE day is about remembering every single one because if it wasn’t for them and the sacrifices they made, we would be living in a very different country today – and a country that doesn’t bear thinking about.”

The mayor of St Annes, Tony Nash, joined Royal Legion members at the service, where he laid a wreath and gave a speech.