Resident in Turvey retirement village reflects on Second World War memories
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As Remembrance Day approaches, one Elderswell Retirement Village resident has been reflecting on stories and memories from a time that shaped the course of history – the Second World War.
94-year-old resident, Eileen Moules, has shared a moving snapshot of post-war life, highlighting the triumph of resilience and sheer determination over adversity. Her heartwarming reflections offer a unique historical perspective of when unity, camaraderie, and joy prevailed after Britain’s darkest hour.
Eileen witnessed one of Britain’s most historic and victorious days when she joined the crowds at Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) on May 8, 1945. At the time, Eileen was a draughtswoman working in the Government’s Drawing Office. She trained one day a week at the end of the war when the firm was allowed to permit girls to attend technical college.
She reflects: “Aged 16, I was at work that day. When we knocked off, I went home on my bike and met my sister Beryl, who was also returning home from work. We quickly got ourselves some flasks of tea and sandwiches, left a note for our parents, then went to Cheshunt railway station, north London, met with the others from our youth club and got a packed train up to London. The boys travelled in the luggage racks.
“We arrived at Liverpool Street Station and started walking to Buckingham Palace. People were climbing Eros in Piccadilly Square and celebrating in Trafalgar Square. There were thousands of people heading in the same direction as us, including lots of young men from the forces. As we made our way up to the Mall to get to Buckingham Palace, we trampled over the geraniums to get to the railings while trying to eat our sandwiches and drink our tea.”
Eileen was about to witness a history book moment, an image that most Britons recognise from black and white photographs that have become cultural artefacts. She recalls: “We ended up right opposite the balcony and waited for Churchill and the King and Queen to come out. The princesses also came out and waved. There was lots of cheering and singing going on.”
“When the balcony emptied, it wasn’t long before we saw something happen on the forecourt. It was the princesses with their escorts. They came out through the gates into the crowds. It was a joyous occasion which went on until the early hours of the morning. We eventually arrived home and got a good ticking off from our mother for making the trip.”
“Every Remembrance Day, I recall my memories of World War II and the parades we used to join in with to our local recreation ground for a service with the troops, Home Guard, boys army cadets and anyone who wore a uniform in their line of service. These were much more sombre occasions on the Sunday afternoons nearest the 11th of November.”
During the war, Eileen’s mother drove ambulances while her father joined the Home Guard. Eileen was briefly evacuated to Kings Lynn as a child, which inspired an independent outlook on life - an outlook that eventually led Eileen to embrace a fresh new chapter at Elderswell Retirement Village in the scenic Bedfordshire countryside.
In August 2023, she moved into a cosy, fully furnished two-bed apartment in Elderswell, along with her daughter, Jan. Eileen comments: “It’s essential to adapt and make a new life for yourself. Finding joy in life and staying positive is key."
Elderswell has not only provided Eileen with a fulfilling living arrangement but also the reassurance of unwavering care, community, and warmth. Praising the village’s support network and accessible variety of on-site facilities and entertainment, she notes that “the staff here go above and beyond to help us."
Managed by Inspired Villages, Elderswell Village offers state-of-the-art facilities open to both residents and the local community. Established in 2017, Inspired Villages is dedicated to developing later-living communities across the UK that prioritise the physical, social, and mental health of its residents.