RAF Cardington Camp

VE Day celebrations RAF Cardington 8th May 1945

VE Day Daily Mirror
Union Jack

Although much attention is given to the celebrations in London following the announcement of the German surrender VE (Victory in Europe) Day was of course celebrated all over the country and RAF Cardington had a large part to play in this event.

Extracts taken from the camps daily records for May 8th tell us exactly what was happening on the day although in a very understated way!

“At 15.00 hours immediately after the announcement by the prime minister that the German forces had accepted unconditional surrender a Service of Thanksgiving was broadcast to the world from the Station Cinema. Detachments of RAF & WAAF from all units on the Station, a naval detachment consisting of 75 W.R.N.S. from the Naval Establishment at Woburn, and a detachment of 50 soldiers (from various regiments) from Kempston Barracks filled the cinema to full capacity. The service was taken by Dr Welch of the BBC. The singing was conducted by Leslie Woodgate, BBC. The Mayor & Mayoress of Bedford attended the Service."

As a result of the constant German air raids on London in the early stages of the war the BBC moved all staff away from the capital initially to Bristol but later decamped to Bedford and was to remain there for the duration of the war. All music programmes for these years were recorded in Bedford and many famous orchestra and musical personnel took part in these productions.

Leslie Woodgate jpeg

Pictured left, renowned composer and chorus master Leslie Woodgate who conducted the singing at celebrations at Cardington on VE day.

The celebrations continued at the camp on the next day as follows:

"Evening - 09.05.1945 A Victory Ball was held in The Arcade which was attended by about 4,500 people. Comic sports were held on the cricket ground and in the evening the Sergeants Mess gave a dance in the gymnasium.

On the nights of VE Day and VE Day plus one, the Station Headquarters Building was floodlit and the Met Tower was decorated with Fairy Lights"

I am absolutely certain that there were more celebrations on the camp and hopefully someone out there can get in touch with their stories.