8th May 2020 marked the 75th Anniversary of VE day. Despite being in lockdown as a
response to the Coronavirus, residents in Cowbridge and the local villages celebrated
the anniversary as best they could. There were no street parties or wild celebrations,
just socially distanced activities usually involving raising a glass to our ancestors who
sacrificed so much for our future.
During the celebrations, inevitably, thoughts turned to the experiences of our friends
and relations during World War 2. This booklet grew from those conversations and
many subsequent discussions. Each conversation gave a unique insight into the wartime
experience and was worth capturing. The opportunity was offered to the members of
Cowbridge Rotary and they responded magnificently. Some wrote their own accounts
but in a few cases the accounts had already been recorded in other books. Others
wanted some help in writing theirs. All welcomed the opportunity to tell their stories.
The booklet concentrates on the longer stories but there were some who only had
snippets of a memory. Like Margaret Greenwood who remembers an event from her
childhood in Wenvoe. An air raid siren sounded whilst she was at school and, as was
usual, she went home to use the shelter there, taking with her a friend who lived some
distance from the school. As they crossed the field near her home a German plane came
over the hedges and started shooting at her. She and her friend escaped injury. Asked if
she was frightened the answer was ‘ No, not really. I was just surprised.’
The best way to describe this booklet is perhaps as a collection of jigsaw pieces. They
are a part of the vast World War 2 jigsaw and depict very personal and particular
experiences. It is not the whole story but a sound and realistic personal representation
of the war through the eyes of those who have survived to date and the tales told to
them by their relatives.
The book is illustrated with factual information to put in context the personal stories.
The stories have not been scrutinised for any errors or inconsistencies but accepted as
the recollections of the contributors.
This booklet has not been compiled for profit but to ensure that the snapshots of the
War, highlighted by the various contributions, are preserved.
The 75th VE and VJ celebrations in 2020 are likely to be the last major celebrations
associated with World War 2. This booklet is the club’s contribution to wartime history
and will be lodged with the Cowbridge History Society and offered to local schools
studying World War 2.
Steve Pearce President Cowbridge Rotary August 2020
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