WHERE WERE YOU WHEN: The Second World War ended

It was a very jolly time, remembers Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery.

I’m 89 now but was only nine years old when the war began. At the start, I didn’t really understand what was going on – it was only when the bombings began that I realised we were at war. We were terrified at first but, like all things in life, we soon got used to it. I grew up in Camden Town in London – we used to run around the bomb sites, seeing who could find the biggest piece of shrapnel. Terribly dangerous now you think about it.

second world war
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When I was ten I was evacuated to Luton with my brothers and sisters. We’d never seen a cow before, so on the way we were rushing to the side of the train shouting, ‘Cor! A cow!’ I got fed up after two weeks in the countryside and decided to make my way back to London to live with my mother (my father was in the army). I hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to get there but I did it by hitching on the back of lorries. 

Back in London I became an errand boy for the air raid wardens who were posted above the Carreras Cigarette Factory in Camden. I’d make tea and fetch cigarettes and sandwiches for them.

I was just 15 when the war in Europe ended. Radios were scarce but everyone gathered near one to listen to Churchill. He was such a great man, the hero of the hour. I remember reading in a newspaper that the war had finished, and that was a rather good feeling. The atmosphere in London was jolly – everyone was dancing around, having a good time and getting drunk. We’d been cooped up for such a long time and now there were no more air raids or bombs being dropped – even if the place was in ruins. 

Colin Thackery’s debut album Love Changes Everything will be released on 20 September on Decca/Syco

Also that month…

Priscilla Presley
Harry Langdon/Archive Photos/Getty Images
  • The five-year occupation of the Channel Islands by German forces ended on 9 May – Liberation Day. Jersey still celebrates this with an annual Bank Holiday.
  • Actress and former wife of Elvis Priscilla Presley was born, as was Pete Townshend, guitarist in The Who.