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‘The dictators gone,’ was how The Oban Times and West Highland Times reported Victory in Europe 75 years ago this week.
Proudly declaring its status as the ‘County Paper of Argyll,’ it had reported extensively on the Second World War by carrying a weekly diary detailing day-by-day news of the six-year-long conflict.
Its eight-page edition of the week ending Saturday May 5, 1945 carried a historic leader column marking the moment Allied forces had been victorious.
‘German and Italian military power has been shattered,’ the paper said.
‘German Government in any shape or form, no longer exists. Mussolini has been shot by his own countrymen.
‘The death of Hitler is announced. Spasmodic resistance by pockets of Nazi troops is the only semblance of the gigantic German war machine which once dominated the continent of Europe.’
Of VE Day arrangements, the paper, priced two pence, recorded: ‘VE Day, and the day following will be public holidays. At nine o’clock in the evening of VE Day His Majesty the King will speak to his peoples throughout the world.
‘It is expected that churches of all denominations will be open for services and for private prayer on VE Day. It is hoped that churches will arrange for church bells to be rung throughout the country. It is the wish of the King that the Sunday following VE Day as a day of thanksgiving and prayer.’
Edition after edition of the newspaper had featured sobering columns on its front page reporting of ‘deaths in active service’ and the names and regiments of those ‘missing, presumed killed’.
Indeed, long after VE had been proclaimed, some poor families were still finding out the heartbreaking news that their sons would not be among those returning home.
The Oban Times frequently ran articles featuring the homecoming of freed prisoners of war, servicemen and women home on leave, and poignant memoriams from those who had lost sons, brothers and fathers, during the many years of battle.
In addition, the paper regularly devoted column inches to praise those winning recognition for their ‘distinguished service’ in land, at sea, or by air.
It also told of the efforts of the local community, which had prided its role as the ‘Home Front’.
Stories told of cash being donated to pay for a ‘welcome home fund,’ for servicemen while events were held in village halls to roll out the red carpet for ‘overcome’ prisoners of war – some held captive for as long as five years – returning home to packed train stations or on buses.
Homecomings were often marked by great ovations, bunting and pipers as returning soldiers were safely restored to their communities.
The paper noted that all had a shared wish, that they spend the remainder of their lives living in peace.