Aldershot Museum VE-VJ Day Celebration

The Aldershot event was one of those lovely occasions when the British Public were out to enjoy themselves, and did so, despite rain that could only be described as torrential! This two-day event took place at the Aldershot Firepower museum. We set up the searchlight and generator, and the 25pdr and had a small encampment of two tents, and a cookhouse rigged up at the side of a truck.

The day-time activities included demonstrations and firing of the guns while the girls busied themselves with some maintenance on the searchlight. There was a steady trickle of public trough the day and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

However the highlight of this weekend were the Museum’s Victory picnic and evening entertainments. The Museum had rigged up a small marquee for an excellent swing band. It’s just as well, because without the marquee the band would have been drowned out! The rain poured down but with true 'war time spirit' the public merely put up umbrellas over their food, donned kagools, and sat back to enjoy the fashion show, organised by Ben and Simone, and narrated by Keith.

The main entrance of the museum had been converted to a make-shift dressing room and the fashion show cast, which included Jo, Simone, Ben, Fred, Gary, Andy, Kit, Rachel, Tracey, and Michael (I might have forgotten a few!) set about with the quick changes which were needed to show the changing fashions through the war.

As we stepped out Keith talked about the clothes we were wearing and the situations that people had to live through during the war years. There was glamour (Ben and Simone cutting a dash in evening wear), humour (Rachel dressed as a char lady and Fred and Ben as CC41 removal men!) and a lot of giggling (Jo and Kit checking their lipstick as they stepped out in their WAAF and ATS service dress).

This was followed up by a dance demonstration by Keith and Tracey, all performed on a tiny and sopping wet dance floor. They still managed to wow the crowd with their skills and teach a few willing volunteers too. The band was very professional, and played a good range of dance tunes for people to tap their feet to.

This weekend was special for another reason, it was Keith’s Birthday. As a special surprise Andy Dawson had tracked down a huge light bulb for the searchlight. This enabled us to produce a beam far more impressive than anything we’d managed before. As darkness fell we switched the light on and were gratified by a loud 'ooooh' from public and re-enactors alike as we shot an impressively bright beam into the sky. One bloke was so entranced by the spectacle he walked towards the light and walked straight into the barrel of the Bofors! He got a bump on his head but was fine!

The Sunday was about recovering and packing up we where all ready to move and depart for home by lunch time but it had been a great weekend.

By Kit Bloom photos thanks to Darren Pyper