Enroute to an estate on flak leave, Kenneth E. Cline and his crew are delayed in London. Ken and the other officers in his crew were on their way to Knightshays Court near Tiverton1 in Devon while the enlisted men were going to Southport, on the Irish Sea coast of West England. Before they left London, they become caught up in the VE Day celebrations.
The celebrations continued for days and Fred French would write:
The Victory celebrations continue. There was dancing to a loud-speaker in Bronson Road, and sound of revelry and fireworks from other directions. Houses are displaying coloured lights and the night is gay indeed.2
Wayne is at sea somewhere in the Pacific.3
Notes & Commentary
1Captain Lawrence Fick, a pilot with the Eighth Air Force, would later describe a stay at Tiverton as follows:
Early the next morning we got on the train again and headed southwest to the town of Exeter where we were met by some army trucks for the remainder of our trip to the rest home. Our vacation facility was an English Manor house complete with a staff of English servants. The estate was owned by Lord and Lady Avery who moved out to the 14 room servants quarters when the Air Force took over their home.
The main house was a beautiful, ivy covered, brick building surrounded by green grass and many trees, overlooking the small village of Tiverton. There was a huge fireplace in the great room just inside the front entrance. It was recessed so that 6 people could sit on benches in the alcove in front of the fire to warm themselves. The firebox could accommodate fairly large logs. The other rooms had more conventional ‘fireplaces of sandstone or marble to provide heat. I don’t think that there was any central heat in the building. The furniture was appropriate for the room that it was in, from the massive furniture in the great room to the more stylish furniture in the drawing room, dining hall, and library. Some of the rooms had satin brocade wallpaper and heavy satin curtains. The walls in the library were covered with embossed leather, and the woodwork in the building was either oak or walnut.
To give us a relief from the military scene, they loaned us wool sweaters, tweed jackets, and slacks. We had access to tennis courts, a putting green, an archery range, pool tables and we could just go for a walk in the countryside. One day they took us to an old castle that had been built in about 1,000 AD where we looked at the weapons of war of that period. We went horseback riding using English saddles and we even went on a fox hunt (as observers riding in a jeep). The men and women riding on the hunt had the fancy red and black riding outfits. We saw the fox several times and he lived to run another day. They arranged for some nurses from a nearby army hospital to come over one night for a dance and there were four Red Cross girls assigned to the rest home.
In spite of the country gentlemen clothes, the fancy estate, and the surrounding countryside guess what the topic of conversation was. The war and flying. There was a mix of bomber pilots (8-17 and 8-24), fighter pilots (P-47 and P-51), bombardiers, and navigators. It led to some lively discussions.
Lawrence R. Fick. World War II in Europe and a Farm Boy from Oregon. (http://www.8thafhsoregon.com/archive/Oregon-Chapter/Lawrence-Fick/Capt-Lawrence-Fick-WWII-in-Europe-A-Farm-Boy-from-Oregon.pdf : accessed 12 May 2015)
2 “12th May 1945: Victory celebrations continue.” War and peace and the price of cat-fish. (http://myunclefred.blogspot.com/2015/05/12th-may-1945-victory-celebrations.html : accessed 12 May 2015).
3 Wayne left no record of his return home. We can only wonder how the troops aboard Wayne’s ship received the news of victory in Europe. Was the mood one of celebration or simply relief that it was over over there . . . . . over there? George M. Cohan, Over There. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6hRDS3LvQQ : accessed 12 May 2015>.