Leeds veteran, 96, shares VE Day memories but said thoughts will be with lost "heroes"
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The now 96-year-old was aged just 21 on May 8 1945 and stationed in Antwerp, Belgium, as a private with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps - the body charged with supplying weapons, ammunition and equipment to the British Army.
He had taken part in the D-Day landings a year earlier, as a driver and despatch rider with the 12th Ordnance Beach Detachment, part of the No 6 Beach Group - behind the wheel of a jeep carrying ammunition and mortars.
Later in the year, the Beach Group was broken up and Jack drove a "three-tonner" all the way to Brussels and then to an equipment store in Antwerp, where he found himself on VE Day.
Jack, who is originally from Morley but now lives in north Leeds with wife Flo, 95, told the Yorkshire Evening Post his recollections of the moment he found out that the war was over are hazy but he can still remember the party they held.
He said: "The celebrations were a little different to what they were in England. It was a still a bit of a war zone - lots of V1s and V2s [German missiles].
"I can't remember how we found out. We didn't hear Churchill's speech at all. But one day we were at war and the next it's peace. It's a great difference.
"It's difficult to remember but I imagine we were all excited and glad and wondering what was going to happen next."
He said: "We had a party - not a great big party but we had a party with my comrades who we were in barracks with. Well, it wasn't barracks, it was a nice big house with a nice garden.
"We had one or two Belgian civilians working with us and they came to the party too."
He said he remembers the party going on through the house and in the gardens.
"It was in both. One of my mates was a very very good pianist and we had a piano that was from somewhere so we had a good sing-song.
"We sang all the old songs - Bing Crosby, a lot of the old songs of the 1940s, Vera Lynn and so forth.
"The pianist was called Freddie Gardiner, he was from Tottenham and I think he married a girl from Lancashire. He was great on the piano. He had a band in Tottenham. He was a brilliant pianist - he made the party more or less."
But while they all enjoyed the party atmosphere on May 8, 1945, Jack said it was business as usual the next day - with the job of keeping the British Army well stocked with supplies still important even after victory was declared.
He said: "The next day we just carried on as we were, doing our normal work. VE was a nice party day but the day after, everything was quiet because war was over but we still had a lot to do - there were still a lot of Army movements."
Later that year, he was transferred to the Hook of Holland, to a store there, until he was demobbed, as a corporal by then, in 1948, He later became general manager of a clothing company in Halifax making women's blouses.
He told the Yorkshire Evening Post, on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, as a D-Day veteran, he will be thinking of those lost in the Battle of Normandy.
He said: "My thoughts will simply be back in Normandy - at the graves of all those who went in that. I'm grateful to be alive, grateful to have survived and just so sorry that so many had to die. Those are the heroes. I will be thinking of them and where they lie in Normandy."
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