VE Day celebrations were in full swing by the time RAF veteran Frank Tolley arrived home. The former Warrant Officer was on leave in Lincoln when he heard the news. In this blog, Frank shares his experiences of the end of war in Europe, 70 years on.
Frank began his RAF service as a ground gunner but, having seen first hand the bombing in Coventry, he decided to apply for Bomber Command in 1943. He was recruited as a bomb aimer and posted to 625 Squadron at RAF Scampton.
In the days leading up to the Germans' surrender on 8 May, 1945, Frank had been involved in four Operation Manna sorties – where food supplies were dropped for the starving Dutch people.
He remembers VE Day clearly. He said: "I was on leave that day. I remember going in to the entrance of Lincoln railway station and there were two Army fellows escorting a German man from there.
"I felt sorry for the fellow. Things were going to be different now they were on the losing side."
As part of a flying crew at Bomber Command, Frank was on duty seven days a week for six weeks consecutively and then took six days' leave. He was given six shillings a day for his six-day leave, and so with almost £2 jangling in his pocket he headed home to the West Midlands to celebrate with his family.
Frank said: "Everybody just went mad! Everybody was happy and there was a lot of drink flowing. We were relieved because we were getting ready to go out to the Far East, I was scared stiff of that, if you get shot down by the Japanese there would be no prisoner of war camp for you!"
But Victory in Japan was declared in August before Frank and his comrades could be deployed. The following May, Frank was demobbed.
Today the 93-year-old volunteers for the Imperial War Museum in Manchester where he shares his experiences with visiting school children, keen to share the lessons of war hoping those mistakes will not be repeated.