World War Two veterans have shared their experiences with school children to mark 100 days until the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. Three veterans visited year six students at Sandhurst Primary School in East London, which was bombed in 1943, killing 38 children and six members of staff. The veterans gave a short speech to the children before answering some of their questions.
Neil Flanigan joined the Royal Air Force as an engineer, specialising in instrument repair for the crews of Bomber Command. “I just happened to be one of the lucky ones – to be a survivor,” Mr Flanigan said. “Most of the things I learned in the war have stood me in good stead because I was highly skilled and after the war I was in demand and to this day I’m still in demand,” he added.
“Talk about it, speak about it. Let history shine on the past.” Hearing directly from veterans who fought in the war made a deep impression on the pupils. “I felt quite sad they went through everything but it was quite amazing hearing what they went through in the Second World War,” Lena said. “It’s been really exciting,” added Sullivan.
“All I know from the poem didn’t give us much detail and nice hearing about people who actually fought in the war’s lives.” The event also included a session from the National Army Museum, as well as a Q&A with personnel from the Kings Troop Royal Horse Artillery and a live performance from Britain’s Got Talent finalists, the D-Day Darlings.
The visit is part of a drive by the Ministry of Defence and The Royal British Legion to encourage members of the Second World War generation to attend special VE Day and Victory over Japan (VJ) Day commemorations later this year. VE Day 75 commemorations will take place in London from 8 until 10 May. Later in the year, VJ Day 75 events will be held at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire from 14-16 August.