SOOKE HISTORY: Sooke recalls VE-Day – 75 years ago

A military parade and hopes of going home fills memories

Soldiers from the Otter Point Army Camp on the march during the Second World War, near Sooke. This Friday (May 8) marks V-E Day, when the war in Europe came to an end 75 years ago. (Sooke Region Museum)

Elida Peers | Contributed

When the exciting news of V-E Day hit, most of us here to recall it were school children.

SeV-Enty-fiV-E years is a long time ago, and we were a very small community, though Sooke did have many servicemen off fighting in the Second World War.

Diane (Acreman) Alexander, daughter of Florence (Muir) Acreman, grew up on Muir land at the corner of Maple Avenue and West Coast Road, and as an excited six year old watched from her front gate as soldiers from Otter Point Camp marched by with the Canadian Scottish Regiment band.

The band’s St. Bernard mascot “Wallace” led the celebration parade. Our photograph here shows a view of the Canadian Scottish marching further to the east, with the Veitch farm in the background.

Perhaps no one would have received the V-E Day news with more joy than our pal “Air Raid.” His name was really Allan King, but “Air Raid” he became when he came here from Britain to go to school in a safe Canadian environment; he had a wartime home with a family on Felton Road.

Gerhart Hansen, 11 years old on V-E Day, recalls, “Air Raid was in our gang of boys who used to get together and horse around, hike in the woods, cut our own fishing poles and try to catch trout in the creeks.”

While Air Raid was emotional about able to return home to Britain, Gerhart recalls that in later decades he came back to Sooke twice to visit the friends who had meant so much to him during the war.

Rod Sullivan, also 11, who grew up near to today’s post office, says what stands out for him was that the village’s air raid siren, on a pole near the intersection of Otter Point, Murray and Sooke roads, went off at midday to wail it’s eerie siren in celebration.

Darryl Sheilds recalls: “We kids were at Grandma Gray’s place (this house is next to Ed Macgregor Park), as Mom was away visiting dad in the service. At 6 a.m., radio blaring, Grandma came rushing out of her bedroom shouting: “The war’s over! Now the boys can come home!”

Velma (Cook) Jessiman who grew up next to the army camp, was away with her family on Denman Island at that time. “Big bonfires were ablaze on Hornby and Denman Islands when we heard the news,” she says

Pat Forrest remembers hearing the V-E Day announcement in the senior class at Sooke School, where Annie Acreman was his teacher.

Liz (Norton) Johnson, who grew up in Victoria, heard the news before school, and remembers that her school, Oaklands, displayed a poster of Winston Churchill and an English bulldog standing on a Union Jack.

David McClimon, whose family was living in Victoria at that time as well, recalls that though only a kid, he used to go down to the daily newspaper office on Broad Street, buy papers for a nickel, and resell them for a dime. So with the big V-E Day headlines, he got his papers and set off to flog them down on the Causeway, where all the ship’s whistles were blasting to sound the joy of the city.

And then there’s Ed Banner, who celebrated his 100th birthday last week. Not a school kid, but in the air force, he’d spent two years on the East Coast and when May 8 came, he was a member of the Provost Corps, based in Victoria’s Belmont Building, when he and his mates knew they’d soon be going home.

•••

Elida Peers is the historian of the Sooke Region Museum.

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