Return to Newmarket at War

VE Day

union-jackVE DAY – Unfortunately not the end of the war, but the cessation of hostilities except in the Far East, hence VICTORY IN EUROPE DAY.

Excuses first…the collection of photos and document we had put aside for the VE celebration is unfortunately, thanks to the lock down, beyond our reach, so we have to make do with whatever is e-mailable or available on the internet.

Luckily, Peter did have a few pictures in his archive, and I of course put together a list of those for whom VE Day came too late. We would however like to receive copies of any suitable photos that you may take on 8th May of your, or your neighbours’, endeavours to celebrate despite the current circumstances. They will after all become local history on Sunday 9th May.

First off, a photo of the VE Day street party in Lowther Street. We recognise (on corner of table nearest the camera) Jean Bonham (front right) and her sister Avril (2nd left) but that is all at the moment. Jean and Avril are studying their Mum’s copy of the photo and will be giving me a lot more names some time soon. If some of you old ‘uns can give us other names, please give Tony a bell on 663343.

Lowther-street-partyPhoto by Margaret Banks, courtesy John Banks. That is his sister Susan (little one nearest camera).

Looked through several street parade photos we do have but closer inspection revealed they were of 1953 Coronation events. We could cheat and use photos gleaned from the internet, Most of you viewing this website would probably be unlikely to realise that we had cheated, but we would know that we had done so, therefore we have ruled out that option.’

We do have a few wartime shots, and will not go into the High Street bombing again at this time.


Visiting Wellington bomber, 2 days before war was declared.
Members car park to right of photo 2 from John Hamlin’s book “The Royal Air Force at Newmarket”


The airfield in 1942..Rowley Mile stand top right


No more of this. Ranardo boys, at mask drill at Warren Towers
these two from the Society’s book “When Newmarket went to War”


No, not a concentration camp, and look, no social distancing.
The same lads bedding down for the night in the cellars at Warren Towers


This fellow had a bedroom all to himself, Nearco at Beech House Stud, “only in Newmarket !!”

rationVE Day was not the end of this, rations for one adult per week

Vegetables and fruit were never rationed but some were very difficult to obtain. Offal and sausages likewise were not rationed but very difficult to come by. When eggs were allocated, children got three per week and pregnant women got two.

Restaurants were not rationed BUT in the British Restaurants (ours was in what is now the theatre in Fitzroy Street) which were virtually community kitchens, the price was a maximum of 9 pence (£1 today’s price) and only one portion of meat, fish, eggs, or cheese. In private restaurants the limit was three courses only and maximum of five shillings.

In addition, coal, petrol, clothing, and soap were rationed and after the war, bread was rationed. Even potatoes in 1946-47. Incidentally how many are aware that the town was extra busy that day, it was the 1,000 Guineas Day. It was recorded that the Stewards retained their hats, and the bookies were no more generous than usual.

That in itself helped the street parties. In those days many folk took in lodgers on race weeks, even cramming their own family into less space to get the lodgers in. This of course gave the opportunity of “stocking the cupboard” without using scarce ration coupons. This meant rationed food could be found for the street party and the “presents” from the guests were available for keeping the family going that week. It meant there was a bit of competition to put up those who worked in the kitchens, bars and restaurants at the racecourse!

In those days everyone who had the space kept chickens or rabbits. We had dozens of rabbits in the stables, no idea how many of my pets finished up in a pie. Keeping chickens was the only way to be sure of getting eggs. If we were lucky enough to get more than needed immediately, they were kept in a bucket with I think it was isinglass to preserve them.

it was something of a shock when bread was rationed in 1946 for a couple of years. Then, in 1947 even potatoes were rationed after a particularly bad winter in 46/47 and no one at the time dreamed that food rationing would not totally end until 9 years after the end of the war.

Rationing of coal even helped the Kingsway take customers from the Doric, both cinemas getting the same ration of fuel despite the fact that the Doric was a very much bigger place. For a household I think the ration of coal was 2.5 ton a year, that is about 50Kg a week. Of course that will be totally meaningless now that so many houses do not even have a fireplace. In those days many still used coal fired ranges for cooking and hot water so it was critical for many families.In fact it was still rationed until after I joined the RAF, not until June 1958.

VE Day Roll of Honour

VE Day came too late for them

The names that follow had already fallen victim to the war in Europe.
This excludes those who died in the Far East or after 8th May 1945
Details of these can be found on

Terry ANDERTON | Edgar ANDREWS | Sidney ARGENT | Herbert ATKINSON | Ted BARRETT | Phyllis BAXTER | John BENSON | Robert BOWERS | Ken BOWLER | Ron BOWMAN | Archie BRAND | George BROOKS | Bernard BROWN | Robert BROWNE | Percy CAMPS | William CARNABY | Paul CARYER | Ray CHALLICE | Walter COE MM | Doug CRAIG | Arthur DELLAR | Stan DRAYTON | John DURHAM-MATTHEWS | Len EDGLEY | Ernie EGAN | Maurice ENNION | Fred FIELDS | James FORSTER | Cyril GIDMAN DFM | George GOULT DFM | Herbert GREAVES | George HAGGER | Harry HAWKINS | Andrew HAY | Fred HOPKINSON | John LAMBTON | Alex LAW | David LEADER | Aubrey LEE | James LEE | Bill LOMAS | Gerald MATTHEWS | Joe McGREISH | Vincent MEANEY | Peter MILLINGTON | Charles OSBORNE | Ron PAINE | Ted PERRY | Cliff POWTER | Harold SMITH | Eric TALBOT | Herbert VOSS | Stephen WARD | Ernie WHITWORTH | Ernie WILLIAMS | Sam WISEMAN | Desmond WOODS

These are all named on the War Memorial together with civilians

Ada BARKER | Allan BARNES | William DOIG | Leslie FULLER | William GALE | Laban HARDING | Richard JENNINGS | Queenie KERRY | Viola LAMBERT | James LITTLE | Nina PECK | Louisa WATERS | William WHELAN

Then there were other Newmarket men who for unknown reasons, never got their name onto the Newmarket Memorial

Stanley BRETT | Colin CAMPBELL | Reg CHALLICE | Anthony DARLIN | Douglas GARDENER | Eric HALLOWS | Wallace MEACHAM | Gerald ROE | Claude WATTS

and one man whom we know nothing, except that he is named on our Newmarket WW2 memorial tablets


There were of course others who died after 8th May and also in the Far East.