Denaby VE Day from the South Yorkshire Times Archive

We've been sent these great articles about VE Day in 1945 and also a couple more stories about London evacuee's who were returning home after spending years in Old Denaby and Conisbrough. We'd like to thank It's Our Heritage for sharing these stories.

South Yorkshire Times

May 5 1945

Patriotic display at Denaby

Denaby was a patriotic as ever on V.E. Day.

It was not long before the streets were ablaze with colour, the union Jack and red, white and blue bunting predominating.

From all the windows and across the streets national emblems were hung from houses, offices, factories and mines.

The display was significant of the spirit of the thankfulness and joy at the good news.

On Monday evening the holiday had begun and some spend it in quietness others in reveller of various kinds.

The children were catered for in many streets by tea parties arranged in the streets in the evening. There were bonfires and fireworks and many kept up the revelry until a late hour.

In the churches services of thanksgiving were held and were well attended.

it is hoped that as many people as possible will endeavour to attend the thanksgiving service arranged for 3.00 pm in Denaby parish church on Sunday.

Members of the various Confraternities and the Boy Scout troop took part in the service in St Albans R. C. Church on VE Day.

During the service’s solemn Te Deum was sung. On the following morning a Requiem Mass offered by FR. J. Stack was sung by the choir and at the end of the service members of the Scouts band sounded the last Post.

South Yorkshire Times

June 9, 1945 Denaby Gunner’s Greek Bride

Girl Helped to Rescue Him from Gestapo

A Denaby Main soldier, Gunner Ernest Hand, of 43 Maltby Street, has returned home, bringing with him a Greek girl, 19-year-old Anastasia Papadolouli, as his bride.

Behind this wartime romance is a remarkable story about Gunner Hand escape from the enemy and moved undetected among the Greek people after having been saved from the Germans by the girl he eventually married.

Gunner Hand was taken prisoner in Crete on June 1, 1941, and after 13 days managed to escape and was free for seven months. He was taken again in June 1942, and placed in a civilian prison where he was held until the following March when he was taken to Greece. After 60 days captivity he managed to escape again and was thence free until October 26, 1944 when Greece was liberated and he was able to contact British forces.

He was befriended by a Greek woman who had previously helped several English prisoners to get away to Egypt. Gunner Hand hoped to do the same, but the Gestapo pressed him so hard that he dared not leave the house. He had to lie low for 12 months during which he never saw daylight, being kept in an underground room and provided with food by Greek friends amongst whom was Anastasia, who was a schoolgirl at the time at a Secondary School in Athens. She helped to teach the Greek language during his enforced period of inactivity, and when he was able to leave the house, wearing civilian clothes, she took him about seeing the sights and visiting cinemas.

Spy Danger

Gunner Hand told a “times” reporter that he was chased by the Gestapo to Athens, but eventually lived in a small town just outside called Kallithea. He tried to teach Anastasia English, but had to give up because the danger of being overheard by spies was so great that he dared not even use his own language. Although he knew another Englishman there, they never dared converse together except in Greek. Gunner Hand found when he contacted the British Army that he had almost lost the habit of using his own language, and began telling the British officer in Greek that he hailed from Yorkshire.

Gunner Hand and his young bride have been given a warm welcome in Denaby and are very happy together. Anastasia is now making good progress with her English and was able to tell the “times” representative, “I like the English people much, but not your weather. It is melancholy. I want the sun of Greece to shine. It always shines there. The people here are very nice, but not your weather.”

Mrs Hand’s father died when she was two, and her mother died through illness in 1942, and since then she has lived with an

aunt. They had told Gunner Hand, after their betrothal, that Anastasia had said, when she was quite a small girl, that she would marry an Englishman. She’s a good singer, and her ambition is to be an operatic singer. Gunner Hand painted a number of pictures, many of them views of Grecian ruins, during his stay in Greece. The couple were married in Greece on February 15 of this year.

Gunner Hand said conditions in Greece had been very bad and the treatment by the Germans was very cruel. He had seen a boy shot by the Germans because he gave a prisoner of war two cigarettes

South Yorkshire Times

June 9 1945

Grateful Evacuees Say “Goodbye”

Evacuees (the children neatly labelled) ready to leave Conisbrough on their homeward journey on Wednesday.

“It’s nice to know we’re going home again, but we can never forget Conisbrough. We have been shown every kindness and we have made many good friends. I shall certainly come back here for a holiday.” These words spoken by Mrs Buisson of London, with her nine children summed up the feelings of the mothers and children who left Conisbrough on Wednesday morning to return to their homes in London.

Mrs Buisson and her children, ages ranging from 4 to 15 years all enjoyed themselves and they were in excellent health. They have had lovely billets and the Billeting officer and his staff have done everything possible for their comfort.

South Yorkshire Times

20 September 1941

Old Denaby’s Young Evacuees

“The best little school in England”, is how eight year old David Butler, evacuated from a N.E. town to Old Denaby, describes the village school which he and his sister Maureen have attended since last autumn, along with five other evacuees; Doreen Richardson, Ann and Shirley Griffiths, Mavis Merrin and five-year-old Peter Jones.

The children are all very happy and with the exception of young Peter, not one of them would want to leave such peaceful surroundings and return home to where as one of them said “the bombs might drop any night”.

Mrs. Jones, Peter’s mother, who is also evacuated to Old Denaby along with her two sisters told a reporter that the reason Peter wants to return home is because his father who is a shipbuilder, is still there.

Before they were evacuated the whole family slept in their Anderson Shelter every night, with the result that none of the children was fit, and Peter was taken to hospital with pneumonia. What finally made Mrs. Jones decide to leave was when fire bombs dropped in the next street.

The headmistress of the village school Mrs. F. E. Hinton, said that when the children first came they were very nervous.

The two other sisters lost nearly all their possessions in the “blitzes”. The husbands of both are serving in the Forces. A bomb which exploded near to their houses demolished them.

The gratitude shown by these women and children should be ample reward for the people who have taken them in at a time when they were in most need. Mrs. Jones said that they could never reciprocate the kindness which has been shown them in the village.