The Orphan Sisters by Shirley Dickson Read Online (FREE)
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Etty eyed the folded newspaper on the kitchen table. The headline blared, in big bold letters, ‘VE DAY- IT’S HERE!’. Hearing excited voices as neighbours celebrated outside in the street, her heart soared.
News had spread over the past couple of days that the war in Europe was over and excitement ran high in Whale Street. Mrs Moffatt, who ran the corner shop over the road, had suggested victory celebrations, and a street party and bonfire in the cobbled back lane were planned. Not one to miss an opportunity, the shopkeeper sold rosettes, posters and Union Jack flags, charging, respectively, one to two shillings. The possibility of bad weather had been a source of great agitation for the revellers but apart from a spot of rain and the odd roll of thunder, the day proved warm with peeks of sunshine.
Wood from bunk beds thrown out of air raid shelters was piled high in readiness for tonight’s bonfire, while an effigy of Hitler waited its fate on top.
Earlier that day, Etty had put the kiddies in the pram on the doorstep to watch, while she helped decorate the street. Red, white, and blue bunting crisscrossed overhead while posters and rosettes decorated walls and Union Jacks hung proudly out of windows. Trestle tables covered with white tablecloths lined the street, set with cups, saucers and tea plates, and party hats made out of newspapers.
Later indoors, Etty had made a plate of spam sandwiches and a carrot cake, using dried eggs as the fresh kind were on ration. The two kiddies were having an afternoon nap in the back bedroom and Etty planned to take the food outside later and join in with the celebrations.
Now the war was over, she marvelled, she might be able to buy anything she fancied and there’d be no need to take her ration book to the shops.
At three o’clock sharp, she switched on the radio and listened to Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s dramatic voice as he announced to the nation from the cabinet room at Number Ten Downing Street, that the war with Germany was over. A huge roar went up from the crowd outside and then united they sang ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.’ A surge of relief engulfed Etty – the longed-for day had arrived and the war was over.
But it was King George VI’s earlier broadcast, transmitted by loudspeaker to thousands of folk assembled in London’s Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square that really moved her. For in it, the king paid tribute to those men and women who had laid down their lives for victory. With a pang of sadness, Etty thought of those she’d loved and lost and all that might have been. She quickly wiped away a tear.
Etty checked the time on the mahogany clock, standing on the mantelpiece above the range. Half past three. Her husband should be home soon.