It can’t have escaped your notice that today is the 70th anniversary of VE Day. The day when war in Europe officially ended with the Allies formally accepting the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
Celebrations erupted throughout the world. In London great crowds partied in the streets and were reputedly joined by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret who, incognito, joined a congo as it snaked its way through one door of the Ritz Hotel and out another.
Suttons Seeds played an important role during the war, supplying vegetable seed and giving advice to people who had never before grown their own food. Wartime catalogues were the first to include “Hints on Successful Cultivation” including charts giving, for example, guidance on ensuring a year round supply of food.
Despite the paper shortage, throughout the war Suttons was given special permission to continue distributing a vegetable seed catalogue but “Under paper order No. 48 we cannot send out Sutton’s Catalogue of Flower Seeds unless we receive a request enclosing one penny.” Those accumulated pennies were then all donated by Suttons to the British Red Cross.
In the first Suttons catalogue produced after VE Day the Letter to Our Customers included:
“Although the cultivation of vegetables will still continue to claim primary importance, many customers will wish during the coming season to restore to their gardens some of the floral beauty which has been so patriotically sacrificed during the war, and it is a satisfaction to us that we are able to list a range of flower seeds adapted to meet all needs.”
On this 70th anniversary commemoration events are being held across the country. A chain of beacons will be lit, church services held, concerts enjoyed and hopefully lots of happy partying. Perhaps at some point we also need to pause to think of those who didn’t make it through the war and of those still fighting in the East whose war continued for another 4 months until VJ Day on 2nd September 1945. My stepfather was one of them.