Actress Dame Patricia Routledge remembers ‘astonishing’ sight on VE Day

Chichester resident Dame Patricia Routledge has revealed how she celebrated VE Day in 1945.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 1:37 pm

The 91-year-old actress shared her memories as part of an ABF The Soldiers’ Charity podcast, Voices of VE Day: 75 Years On, alongside other celebrities and World War Two veterans.

Dame Patricia, best known for her role as Hyacinth Bucket in the BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances, vividly recalls the celebrations.

She was a teenager at the time, in Birkenhead, where she was brought up.

Dame Patricia Routledge reveals how she celebrated VE Day in 1945

Dame Patricia said: “In the evening, what I do remember very clearly, we as a family, my brother and myself, Mother and Father, went down to down to Woodside Ferry and the landing stage, where the ferries came and went to Liverpool.

“The place was packed with people and the River Mersey was full of ships and they were all honking away and the lights were on – it was astonishing, really wonderful.”

She also spoke of her school days in Birkenhead.

Dame Patricia said: “If we went to school without our gas masks, we were sent home again, and it was memorable. We had a shelter built at the school I attended and we would do air raid drill regularly and sometimes had to go down there, below the tennis courts, I remember, if there was a daylight raid.”

The podcast features first-hand accounts from guests including war evacuee Sir Derek Jacobi, 96-year-old Bletchley Park veteran Betty Webb, 96-year-old Chelsea Pensioner Bob Sullivan, 102-year-old former gunner Capt Jack Swaab and 98-year-old former York and Lancaster Regiment officer Geoffrey Winter.

Former Coldstream Guardsman Allan Jackson, a schoolboy in the war, remembers London’s docks burning and said ‘it was quite exciting’.

Former ATS driver mechanic Barbara Weatherall, 94, was in Sunderland and remembers it was ‘absolutely heaving, just like London’.

She said: “You couldn’t move for people out enjoying the celebrations.”

Barbara had to get through and a policeman helped her by ‘literally pushing the crowd aside’ so she could walk through the entire street.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is the Army’s national charity, formed in 1944 to provide a lifetime of support to soldiers, veterans and their families. In the past year, it has helped 70,000 members of the Army family in 68 countries across the globe and funded 92 other charities and organisations to deliver specialist services.

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