'The thrill of VE Day will not soon be forgotten: we had just returned to School for the Summer Term when we were called upon to celebrate the great day.'

It has been very heartwarming to read how VE Day was met with such joy and relief by the girls and staff of St Mary's. Our School Archivist, Elizabeth Christie, has been able to highlight the records kept of the time, saved as the St Mary's Calne News Sheet for September 1945 on the Calne Girl's Association (CGA) website (see links below), and we are delighted to share them with you.

After an 8.30pm announcement from the Prime Minister that the war in Europe was over, the Headmistress, Miss Matthews, announced that the next day would be kept as VE Day all over the country. It was a very full day of celebrations, starting with Chapel and much decorating of both students and the school:

'VE Day itself dawned very clearly. After Chapel we struck the flag and proceeded to decorate the houses (having ornamented ourselves with bows of red, white and blue which each girl found on her plate at breakfast). One long string of flags was festooned with great difficulty and danger from window to window outside Bodinnar, while a second formed a triumphant V from the top of the porch to Miss Matthews' bedroom and sitting room windows.'

At 3pm, the girls gathered in Gabriel to listen to the Prime Minister and listen to descriptions of the crowd outside Buckingham Palace and Whitehall. Everyone then marched into Calne for a short Thanksgiving Service on the Strand, conducted by the Archdeacon:

'The town was gay with flags and everywhere red, white and blue decorations showed the spirit of rejoicing, but it was in the silence and the singing that we showed our true feelings of thankfulness and proud remembrance of the great sacrifices.'

When the girls returned to school they had a few hours to prepare for the fancy dress 'Victory Dinner', which started at 7pm. This was followed by a big dance, open to all, on the school's cricket pitch.

A wonderful handwritten report within the St Mary's Calne Diaries section of the CGA website, details the dance and the impressive bonfire that followed:

'The people of Calne flocked to our grounds. From the very start everyone mixed and mingled with each other until we were one big happy party almost bursting with joy. Old couples who hadn't danced for years joined in with great enthusiasm for two hours on end, broken only by the King's speech at nine o'clock.'

'Then, at 10.15 we grabbed our cloaks and dashed up to the work-house where Mr Hart and Mr Dickinson had built the most colossal bonfire.'

'For over half an hour, we stood under the roaring flames singing all the good old songs, such as Tipperary, Pack Up Your Troubles, John Browns Body, Land of Hope and Glory, and many more. Then at last, we turned homewards. The people of Calne began to stream away and we left the glory of that starry night with tired, but very light and thankful hearts.'

'VE Day was over, but PEACE had only just begun!'

To see the News Sheets in full - click here and go to page 2 and an article on page 22.
To see the Diaries in full - click here and go to pages 8 to 14.