9th May 1945 - VE Day Celebrations

Wednesday
Warm.  Showers at times.  

The great victory parades in the Park this morning.  Hymns being sung.  Saw they came back to the Bridge.  Big crowds on the pavements.  The Town Council came, some in a taxi and some walking, the police officers and the Mayor’s Beadle with the mace.  They all stood on the steps of the Clarkson Memorial and a man took photos.  The band stood alongside.  The sun shone just after a shower, and the band of the cadets came through the High St, with the young drum-major striding in front, and behind him a tiny boy with a huge mastiff, as the “regimental mascot”.  Then the Home Guard, aged, fat, thin, grey, shambling, plenty of officers.  The Civil Defence – Penny and his man in front, Jones and the heavy rescue men, ambulance men, nurses, sea-cadets, girl cadets, Women's Voluntary Service, even fireguards in uniform (never seen anything like this before) and curious grey uniformed girls of the Salvation Army looking like camp followers of the Civil War.  Boys and Girls Life Brigades and tiny children in various uniforms. 

As each platoon or group drew level with the Clarkson Memorial, an officer or leader would call “Eyes Right” in ranging tones of military volume and the Mayor solemnly lifted his cocked hat.  Incredible how many Home Guards and Civil Defence people there are in this small town.

Going through old market, met a man leading two thoroughbreds and wheeling a bicycle.  Helped him round to Hancroft Road where he turned them out.

To Museum, finished Townsend case, which now looks very well.  Letter from Miss Peckover in answer to mine of yesterday to say she will serve as President again.

Crowds outside all the fish shops, waiting for the usual Fenland dinner.

Went to Warby’s this evening.  Elm bells ringing, St George’s flag waving on tower, flags on most of cottages.  Glorious evening, clear washed skies, one or 2 Lancasters sailing over, I suppose full of released prisoners.  The cuckoos calling, distant cattle lowing.

Saw the German camp at Waldersey, the men playing football with a big crowd, and a cottage opposite covered with flags.  

Back to Oldfield at 8.30, cuckoos still calling.  Down Elm Rd, chestnuts full of gigantic candles, cuckoos, wood pigeons and rooks cawing ceaselessly.  Crowds coming out of the town from the “celebrations”.

*****

Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, this is the last diary entry for E.J. Rudsdale's wartime blog.  I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have followed the blog over nearly six years and particularly those who have contributed comments and insights, which have enhanced the blog and my knowledge of this period considerably.  Special thanks to regular contributors Mike, (who has given us such useful information on monetary values from the time), Jane and Robin.

The publication of the blog has enabled E.J. Rudsdale's journals to reach a worldwide audience and has allowed greater detail from his diaries to be published beyond that which it was possible to include in the book, 'E.J. Rudsdale's Journals of Wartime Colchester'.

The blog has made many connections for people researching their Essex family history in this period and it has been a joy to receive details of your stories and research in this regard.

I hope to publish E.J. Rudsdale's peacetime journals for Colchester from 1920 to 1939 and for Wisbech from 1945 to 1951 in the future and details will be published on this website at a future date.

Thank you again for your loyal support and kind encouragement.  I am taking a break at present so my apologies for being unable to respond to any messages for a short time but it has been a great pleasure to share E.J. Rudsdale's experiences of the Second World War with you.

With best wishes, 
Catherine Pearson
9th May 2015


Afterword: E.J. Rudsdale after the Second World War

E.J. Rudsdale continued to serve as Curator and Librarian at Wisbech Museum up to the late 1940s.  His father, John Rudsdale, died in 1946.  Rudsdale, himself, never married.  In 1949, Rudsdale was appointed Consultant Archaeologist at Scarborough Museum for nine months but was hampered by poor health and subsequently resumed his post at Wisbech.  Throughout the rest of his life, Rudsdale continued to maintain his journal on a regular basis.  He also kept in close contact with events in Colchester through friends such as Hervey Benham and Harold Poulter.  (Poulter continued to live at Hollytrees Museum until his death in 1962).  Rudsdale published articles on the history of Colchester in the Essex Review in the post-war years and became a founder member of the Friends of Colchester Museums in 1949.  In November 1951, he underwent an emergency operation for appendicitis but died of kidney failure on 14 November 1951, at the early age of 41.  His journals were later bequeathed to Essex Record Office.  The inscription on his tombstone in Wisbech Cemetery states: ‘He studied and preserved antiquities’. 

Shocked by the news of his death, his friends in Colchester raised sufficient funds for a museum display case to be purchased in his memory and his name is commemorated in the naming of a road, Rudsdale Way, in the Prettygate district of the town.  Rudsdale, himself, however, had more modest ideas of a memorial.  Lying ill with bronchitis in 1949, he re-wrote his will and, with thoughts of Colchester Castle, stated that after his debts had been settled:

'Any residue to Colchester Corporation with the request that they shall place a small tablet in the Castle Tower, as follows:

In Memory
Of
E.J. Rudsdale, 1910-19??
Who loved Colchester
Here he liked to stand on a
Summer afternoon'

It is hoped that his wishes for such a memorial may one day be realised.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catherine

Thank you for your mention of myself (and others)in your farewell, your work to bring ER's journal to public notice is much appreciated.

It's hard to believe that's it!

When ER moved away from Colchester it only took a few entries to find myself caught up in his new life, and intrigued as always by the insight of how things were during WWII in comparison with what I was brought up to understand (10/- for a flag on a stick! £19.79 in today's values!)

Once again thank you for all your effort and hard work in this project, and the pleasure of being able to see you in person at your talks about the journal and discuss some of the more curious points!

Mike

Anonymous said...

Dear Catherine, et al.:

As reader since 2009. I must say I'm dissapointied to find that my daily visits with EJ shall be suspended; one hopes for only a short time. I've been very much hoping to hear if, upon the wider knowledge gained of German atrocities with the end of the war, EJ ever changed his mind on rightness of the British cause?

Perhaps more importantly, married or no, did he ever find his one true love? Contentment even?

He's always seemed a bit unsettled.

In any case, many thanks for the many hours of enjoyment and education I've gained from you and EJ these past many years, and best wishes from Texas.

Paul said...

Thanks for your work - really enjoyed following these over the last couple of years

Jane said...

Thank you Cathy. I have enjoyed reading Eric's Wartime diary entries every day and I have learnt a great deal more about the impact of the War on Colchester and its people and elsewhere in the Country. I shall miss reading this! However I very much look forward to the subsequent diaries you will bring out for publication. Best wishes, Jane

E J Rudsdale said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thank you so much for all your hard work in producing this blog. It was always my first port of call after switching on the computer and I am already feeling a bit bereft that there will be no more postings for the time being and I will miss news of my friend Rudsdale. His diaries chime with me,having lived through those years and being old enough at the time to experience some of the same fears and deprivations.
Once again...thanks, and very best wishes for your future happiness in this new stage in your life.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the huge amount of work you have put into this diary blog (it was always my first port of call after switching on the laptop} and for the enjoyment it provided. I feel bereft and look forward to the next instalments.
Best wishes for the future.

Anne