Freda who is 87 and lives in Whitechapel, is also a member of the Jewish Care community centre in Stepney. She remembers, “During the war my mum worked in the cigarette factory and I looked after the kids. We’d go to the shelter in Whitechapel and you knew everyone. My dad was in the army serving in France and Belgium, he was wounded and taken to St Thomas’hospital for soldiers in London. I remember taking a steamboat across the Thames to go and visit him.
“It was my mum’s birthday on May 8, VE Day and I’ll never forget it. Shoes were flying off people’s feet, the gas lanterns were on all night and people tore down the blackout blinds. It was lunchtime and there were loudspeakers in the street and everyone was shouting war is over!
“The celebrations carried on all weekend with parties in the streets, halls, churches and shuls. The women brought food and put tables out and decorated the streets. Most of the men were still at war. Mum had been a cook for weddings before the war and she’d always say “When the War is over, I’ll make you a great big party for your birthday”. My birthday is on 28 May and as the War had ended my Mum did make me a big birthday party and somehow managed to find everything to bake a lovely cake so we could celebrate with all our friends and family and my younger sister and brother and all the people who had been evacuated came home.
“I thank G-d I’m here today, though it’s hard not to go out. I love it at the Jewish Care community centre. I have family to look after me and I keep in touch with my friends there but it’s not the same. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again.”