Like the rest of the nation, Liverpool was a place of celebration 75 years ago in August 1945.h
Six gruelling years of conflict in World War II had finally ended with the surrender of Japan on August 15th.
Merseyside could begin to get back to normal and, very slowly, start rebuilding.
Moments of everyday life from that time have been captured in a series of striking photos from the Liverpool Echo archive.
They range from the pure joy of hearing the war was over to the weary faces of prisoners of war returning from Japanese labour camps.
They show German captives laying roads in Croxteth, the battered hospital ship Letitia moored at Prince’s Pier and golfers negotiating a new hazard on their course – a disused gun emplacement!
News of Japan’s fall on Wednesday August 15th sparked celebrations and parties around Liverpool over the next few days.
Victory in Japan (VJ Day) was marked across Europe as allied soldiers formed a conga line in London’s Regent Street and American and French troops paraded down the Champs Elysees.
The official surrender document was signed on September 2nd aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
One of the most moving pictures from the archive captures the moment a wife whose husband was serving in China hears the news of Japan’s collapse.
Mrs Lotus Lee-Chang, or Lulu to her friends, is surrounded by cheering service men and women Liverpool’s streets – all of them beaming with happiness.
It was an echo of the relief shown by nurses in Liverpool when victory in Europe was announced in May. Our photo shows them precariously hanging on to an ambulance trundling along the cobblestones!
Hundreds gathered at Prince’s Pier in October 1945 to welcome back members of the Sherwood Foresters’ Regiment who were returning from the living hell of Japanese PoW camps.
The smiles are clear to see on the faces of mothers, wives and children waiting for the men to come ashore.
The expressions of the soldiers, as they carry their kit bags down the gangplank, are more sombre and muted – yet no less heartfelt.
As celebrations took place for VJ Day, German PoWs were still working in Liverpool on reconstruction projects after the war in Europe had ceased.
Our photo shows them fenced off from the public in Gillmoss Lane, Toxteth, spreading clinker ash for roadways on a housing site. A solitary British soldier stands guard.
The extent of the damage caused by German bombing on Merseyside can clearly be seen in the photo of Paradise Street from March 1945. The ground is being leveled for rebuilding as the war nears its end.
Little is left standing in the view toward the Queen Victoria Monument and the National Bank.
The battle-scarred SS Letitia, pictured at Prince’s Pier in February 1945, started life as an ocean liner with the Anchor-Donaldson Line in 1924.
In September 1939, she was requisitioned by the British Admiralty and converted into an armed merchant cruiser before becoming a troop ship in 1941.
HMS Letitia, as she was then called, was badly damaged in 1943 and then used as a hospital ship in Canada before being returned to civilian service in 1946.
After a period under charter to the Government of New Zealand, when she was renamed the Captain Cook, the ship was sold for scrap in 1960.
As well as troops and ships coming home, a sure sign that things were starting to return to normal after the war was golfers back on the course.
Instead of playing out of the rough or a bunker, our photo shows a golfer taking a shot from the side of a gun site, trying to avoid the barrel as he aims for the green!
*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.
Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 50377