Bletchley Park Veterans remember VE Day

Glad rags, atomic bombs and a bonfire

“We weren’t the heroes - the heroes were dead.” It’s a sombre note to strike, but that’s how Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNs, known as Wrens) Bombe Operator, Dot Tuffin, remembers the VE Day celebrations in 1945. For many of those working at Bletchley Park and its outstations, the war didn’t end on VE Day, as they were moved on to the job of Japanese codebreaking. For everyone who signed the Official Secrets Act and kept quiet for at least another 30 years, their obligations didn’t even end when peace was finally declared around the world.

Dot is one of an ever-growing number of Veterans who’ve shared their memories of the end of the war in Europe with the Bletchley Park Podcast since it began in 2012.

Joyce Roberts, a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) teleprinter operator, said “I was in Trafalgar Square on VE night. I remember hearing about the atom bomb - the beginning of the atomic age. On VJ night, the chaps in the men’s billets were very naughty - they took the furniture out and made a bonfire of it. I think they couldn’t care less, because they’d been demobbed.”

Dot adds a poignant memory. She says“My husband would wear his medals on Armistice Day. We would hug each other and say we were the lucky ones - we came back. This is what matters.”

You can hear more Veterans’ memories of VE Day in Episode 34 of the Bletchley Park Podcast, out on Bletchley Park’s Audioboom Channel and iTunes on 10 May.

Image Betty Webb and Marigold Freeman-Attwood ©ShaunArmstrong/mubsta.com