Retro: Sheffield and Doncaster to commemorate VE Day anniversary

A Lancaster bomber, which will fly past Sheffield Cathedral to mark the 70th anniversdary of VE Day
A Lancaster bomber, which will fly past Sheffield Cathedral to mark the 70th anniversdary of VE Day
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A Lancaster bomber fly over Sheffield Cathedral and residents in Doncaster will be staging a street party as the region commemorates the 70th anniversary of VE Day next weekend.

The event at the cathedral will focus on celebrating the anniversary of peace in Europe whilst also looking at Sheffield’s role in the war.

Sheffield Cathedral will have World War Two re-enactors on hand at an event to mark the 70th anniversdary of VE Day

Sheffield Cathedral will have World War Two re-enactors on hand at an event to mark the 70th anniversdary of VE Day

Topics will include munitions manufacture in the factories of Attercliffe to the make-do-and-mend and rationing of the Home Front.

One highlight of the day will be the flyover of a famous Lancaster Bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight especially for the Sheffield Cathedral event.

The cathedral’s heritage learning officer Janet Ridler said: “We will have re-enactors from British and Allied groups who will demonstrate what life was like in Sheffield during wartime, with a 1943 Bren Gun Carrier, Daimler Dingo, 1940s lorries and motorcycle plus, bomb disposal and American jeeps on the cathedral forecourt.

“There will also be lots of hands-on activities for children, such as learning how to put out an incendiary bomb and air raid drill and the Home Guard will show us how the ordinary people of Sheffield were able to ‘do their bit’ in the war.

“Sheffield was badly damaged during the Blitz of 1940, with great loss of life at the Marples in the city centre as well as homes in the suburbs.

“Somehow Sheffield Cathedral survived the Blitz with just a few windows blown out.

“We will be telling how the precious artefacts and stained glass of the cathedral were kept safe during the war – and how the beautiful windows very nearly did not get put back correctly after the war!”

Winston Churchill visited Sheffield after the Blitz to raise morale, so top Winston Churchill re-enactor Derek Herbert will be on hand on hand to give some of the wartime leader’s finest speeches throughout the day and to meet the people of Sheffield.

Janet added: “Not forgetting the way people would keep their spirits up in wartime, we will have a traditional swing band playing Glenn Miller and other hits from the 40s and the Sheffield University Swing Dance Society will give demonstrations of 40s dancing and be on hand to teach you a few steps.

“The Bobby Pins Trio – accomplished Andrews Sisters tribute singers – will take you on a nostalgic journey back with their 40s-style harmonies.”

Traditional refreshments will be served in the cathedral’s Wartime Tea Rooms.

The Star Retro will have a display of news coverage from the time in the cathedral.

There will also be an 8-page VE Day Special in next Saturday’s Retro.

Over in Bentley, Sheffield-based Spiltmilk Dance will be working with residents to recreate one of the hundreds of street parties that broke out across the country on May 8, 1945.

Everybody is invited and there will be bunting, victory rolls, tea and cake, live music and lots of dancing, all at the Bentley Pavilion next Saturday from 11am to 4pm.

Spiltmilk, who have been commissioned by Doncaster arts organisation Right Up Our Street, have visited two Bentley care homes to speak to residents about their memories, which will be presented throughout the day. Adele Wragg, co-director of Spiltmilk Dance, said: “At the heart of this project is the legacy of passing on the spirit of a VE Day party, and the understanding of what this event would have meant to the people of Doncaster in 1945.

“As it is 70 years since this monumental day, it is one of the last anniversaries where we will have residents who clearly remember Doncaster’s original V E Day parties – it is so important that we pass on their stories and memories in a meaningful, memorable way to younger generations.”

Spiltmilk are still on the look out for crafters, musicians, hairdressers, caterers, and people of any kind to contribute to this big community event.

They are also working with two groups to create dances to be performed on the day.

To get involved with the street party, get in touch by emailing info@spiltmilkdance.co.uk or by calling Adele 07790 821181.