VE Day Memories

Where were you on VE Day 1945 ?

Here are some Cromar memories....

Alastair McDonald

Alastair McDonald was born in 3 Culblean Cottages, Coull in 1939 and still lives in the home of his birth. He had just started Coull School in the April of 1945, following the Easter holidays. 

‘On VE Day I cycled with my mum and dad into Aboyne. My granny lived there next to the green. I remember seeing a huge bonfire set up on the green and there was an effigy of Adolf Hitler on the top. The bonfire was ready to be lit later in the day, but I have never forgotten seeing a boy climbing up the bonfire and he punched the effigy of Hitler and was led off by a policeman when he came down. I remember the event well. His blonde hair stays in my mind. When I went to Aboyne Secondary School, the same boy was in school with me, along with his brothers. He eventually emigrated to New Zealand. Clearly his misdemeanor on VE Day was not held against him in his emigration.’

Rob McCombie

Rob McCombie, now of Ruthven Brae, Dinnet, was born in 1936 at ‘The Slack’, Coull (now the house at the Queen’s View on the Aberdeen/Tarland Road). By 1945 his family had moved to farm at ‘The Slack, Tarland’ (now Slack Cottage). Rob has childhood memories of the Home Guard drills at the gun pill-box by the road near his home. 

‘VE Day was celebrated in Tarland with a huge bonfire set up by the workers on the Douneside estate on the Market Stance. The bonfire in Tarland was lit by Mrs Ewen, who had 15 of a family. She was chosen to light the bonfire because she had the most members of her family serving in the war effort.’

‘The Galls of Braeside, who lived across the road from us, also had a bonfire and squibs on VE night.’

Sandy Troup

Sandy Troup now of 1 Culblean Cottages, Coull, was living at The Milton, Tarland in 1945 and was 10 years old. 

‘There was a bonfire on Milnies Hill ( Tomnaverie) on VE Night, though I am not now so sure if it wasn’t VJ Day in the August of 1945.’ The view from The Milton on the Tarland/Aberdeen Road must have been a fabulous panorama of the Howe O’ Cromar and a grandstand spot for any bonfire at the stone circle of Tomnaverie.’

Sandy’s wife, Mary was still Mary Donald in 1945, and living at Ythanwells.

‘I remember VE Day because I had broken my leg jumping off a wardrobe when playing with my brothers.’

Rita Barnes

Rita Barnes, now living at Cromar Court, Tarland, was Rita Markham and 15 years old when VE Day came. Rita was living in her home town of Grimsby in Lincolnshire and following Commercial School had started working as a school secretary. 

‘I set off to work on the 8th Mary 1945, only to be sent home when I arrived at the school. When I got home my mother told me about their neighbour who was the wife of the chimney sweep, who had cause quite a stirr. My mother told me that morning she had run down the street shouting, “Mafeking’s been relieved!!! Mafeking’s been relieved!” My mother thought this was hilarious and said to Rita. “She’s got the wrong war. Mafeking was in the Boer War!” In her excitement at the news of victory in Europe, the sweep’s wife had got her victories muddled.’

Rita recalls the VE celebrations: ‘The next day we set up tables in the street with table clothes on them and pooled our rations for a tea party and dancing.’

Ann Irvine

Ann Irvine (formerly Ann Green) and now of Cromar Court, Tarland, was born in 1937. Her father was a well-known village joiner. Ann attended Tarland School before going to Aberdeen Girls’ High School.

Ann has no particular memories of VE day, apart from the village bonfire on the Market Stance. One interesting memory of 1945, however remains:

‘The Primary Three/Four Teacher at Tarland School was Mrs Fraser. Each day we began by writing the date in our jotter. Mrs Fraser one day wrote on the blackboard: 12.3.45 and said to the class: “now there’s is a date none of us will ever see again in our lifetimes.” She was pointing out the unique sequence of numbers in the date.’

‘That left a lasting impression me’, said Mrs Irvine. ‘It is my abiding memory of the year WW2 ended.’

Mrs Helen Craigie

Mrs Helen Craigie (formerly Helen Adam), now lives in Bonty Court, Aboyne. She was the daughter of “Souter Adam”, Shoemaker, Tarland and the family home was where Tarland Garage now stands.

Helen was 17 when WW2 ended. Like Sandy Troup, she recalls the bonfire at Tomnaverie to mark VE Day and also the one on the Market Stance.

‘The celebration of VE day in Tarland were fairly modest, given the hard times we had endured and were still living in. Rationing, remember, would go on until 1954. In 1945, I started my nursing training in Aberdeen. I remember my first night in the nurses’ home at the City Hospital was VJ day (August 1945). As preliminary juniors we were locked in at 10 pm, but the bonfire was blazing on the nearby Law Hill all night.’

Helen Adam went on to have a wide experience of nursing and to live for many years in Borneo through her husband’s work. They retired to Arbroath and after her husband’s death she returned to Deeside, where she then had two brothers and a sister still living.


'Bonfires were lit all over the United Kingdom on VE Day as this was the first time the 'Black-out' had been lifted. It is therefore not surprising that there were at least three bonfires remembered in the Howe O' Cromar and another in Aboyne. Effigies of Hitler were also common on VE Day bonfires.

In similar ways anti-aircraft searchlights were turned on on VE night to light up public buildings for the first time since the start of WW2.'

Many thanks to Andrew Wilson for collecting the memories from Cromar.