On 7th May 1945, the town of Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh was already prepared to celebrate. The following day, 8th May 1945, would be Victory in Europe Day or VE Day. Before Prime Minister Winston Churchill's historic announcement, the residents of Enniskillen had been hard at work decorating their homes and public buildings.
A great noise rang through the streets as the bells of St. Macartin’s Cathedral rang out, and the Enniskillen Pipe Band, lead by Alfred Robinson, paraded through the town. A large crowd followed the band, cheering and singing until after midnight. An Allied Hospitality dance took place in the Town Hall where over 400 people danced to the “blast and whine” of the saxophone.
VE Day in Enniskillen
On VE Day, local churches held services of thanksgiving in the early evening. By nightfall, bands returned to the streets and large crowds gathered all around Enniskillen. The skies glowed with the burning of bonfires and the release of fireworks.
Locals of all ages celebrated in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. Children waved Union Flags and enjoyed over 1,000 portions of free ice-cream from Melvin House and the Derby Café. They also enjoyed an afternoon of programming at the Townhall Pictures. Some of the older residents enjoyed free wares supplied by The Coffee Van and the local YMCA.
Young people also enjoyed sporting activities laid on at Broad Meadow. Successful competitors received prizes from Mr. WE Johnston (Vice Chairman of the Urban Council). One again, a selection of popular music wad provided by the Enniskillen Pipe band.
Throughout the day, more and more uniforms of the Royal Air Force, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and other organisations appeared on the streets. Songs rang forth from the street and in particular from the public houses.
There were scenes of jollification on the Diamond, where a party of airmen, gaily bedecked with a varied assortment of headgear, ‘ran riot’, and here there was an impromptu fireworks display. The crowds were very good humoured. So full were some of the public houses that drink was carried out to be consumed on the street. It was past midnight when singing crowds ceased merriment.
The Impartial Reporter, 10th May 1945
One of the most spectacular bonfires was that lit by Mr. James Morrell oh his land at Lakeview. From various places in the locality, children and adults alike watched in awe as the flames reflected in the waters of Lough Erne.
The Celebrations Continue
The following day saw celebrations continue in the town. A joint youth service took place at the Methodist Church where pupils of Portora Grammar School joined with Scout Master Walter Vaughan’s Scouts, Captain David Murray’s Boys’ Brigade, and Miss Gregg’s Girls’ Brigade.
Over the course of the 3-day celebrations, floodlights illuminated Portora Grammar School and the Royal Ulster Constabulary Headquarters with the V for Victory sign. The RUC found themselves in a tricky position, however, when they refused to allow an effigy of Hitler to be burned within the town boundary. All was well though and other members of the Constabulary seemed to join in with the fun.
Sergeant Codd RUC one of Enniskillen’s big policemen, was hugged by two R.A.F. men as he stood on the street on Tuesday evening. He took the love making in good spirits and laughed heartily.
The Impartial Reporter, 10th May 1945
The good behaviour continued at the County Hall where over 500 people attended a dance in aid of the Victory Fund. The Buffs supplied the band. The Royal Air Force also held dances on its bases in the locale and many young ladies made their way from Enniskillen out to Castle Archdale, Killadeas, and St. Angelo.
With VE Day celebrations drawing to an end in Enniskillen only one thing remained. That Hitler effigy was carried to the railway ground just outside the town and soon met a fiery end!