The latest After Dark post from Southampton Stories!
In this week’s Southampton After Dark post we discover how people in Southampton celebrated the 1945 Japanese surrender after the sun went down!
Local man Daniel Cox, who kept up a diary almost every day of his life from the 1920s until the 1960s, records being woken up in the early hours of 15th August by ships hooting their horns. He writes:
"I lay for a minute or two, in a dazed state, and then saw, through a window, a rocket shoot into the air, so I got up and switched on the radio. There was a religious service being broadcast, and it was twenty minutes past midnight. By this time, all the sirens and hooters in the docks were in full blast, so I concluded that Japan must have surrendered".
Late as it was, he roused the family and walked down Peartree Avenue, where celebrating people ‘in their pyjamas and nightdresses’ were wandering the streets, and impromptu bonfires were being lit, including one on Peartree Green on the foundations of an old army hut.
Celebrations continued on the evening of 15th August, with more bonfires and fireworks (Daniel even lit an old lifeboat flare). Around 10pm Daniel and his wife Elsie took a bus into town:
"At the Civic Centre there was a solid mass of people milling all over the place. We walked up to the Junction. Fires were burning on every piece of waste ground. In the Civic forecourt groups of people were attempting to dance, to music coming through a loud speaker. When we got back to the cross roads the crowd was so thick that traffic could not move and from what I could see, the crowds were rocking cars to and fro, and trying to overturn them. Presently the crowd parted and six or seven Commandos came thrashing out, all fighting. The crowd surged with them toward the Parks… The Civic Centre road was a bit clearer by this time, so we walked back to the fountain, where a couple of Petty Officers were in the water splashing each other, and trying to duck one another, to the great amusement of the throng there assembled… Downtown the crowds were thinner, but there was a fire blazing in front of the Bargate, with a crowd of people singing and dancing round it."
The couple caught the 11.30pm Floating Bridge, passing more bonfires on the walk home, including one on the corner of Oakbank Road, where ‘a crowd of soldiers and sailors were stripping wood from the wrecked Supermarine Buildings to feed it’. Daniel finally got home at about 1.30am, where he had ‘some tea, and a bite of supper, before bed’.
#SotonAfterDark #VJDay #VJDay75 #Southampton