Peace and aftermath

In memoriam

The war left many people grieving and traumatised. While most celebrated, many knew that their loved ones would never return. Only once the tension of war ended did this hit home. Many in the city today still grieve the loss of relatives and friends during the war.

In 1951, ten years after the May Blitz, the city unveiled a memorial at Anfield Cemetery. It marks the communal grave of 554 victims, of whom 373 were unidentified. An inscription was added to the cenotaph memorial for the First World War. A specific memorial was unveiled in St Nicholas's Churchyard in 2000. St Luke's Church the 'bombed out church' on Renshaw Street, was not rebuilt and remains today a memorial to the Liverpool Blitz.

"Mum would say "We've done that, we don't want to go back there." But I used to cry, I really used to cry. All I wanted was somebody to just sit and listen to me." Doreen Yarwood, survivor of the Durning Road tragedy

A new beginning

Liverpool was left with large areas of docks and homes devastated. The rebuilding was to take years. Some famous buildings were never rebuilt, such as the Customs House which occupied the site of Chavasse Park. As early as 1941, the City Council investigated how to re-develop the city centre. The first schemes appeared that year, including the plan for an inner ring road.

The Labour Government set about creating a new society. People were determined never to return to pre-war unemployment. The war had prepared people for more state control and the government nationalized many industries. New laws for education, social services and housing created the welfare state. In 1946, Parliament set up the National Health Service. For the first time people had a right to free medical care.

How did people react to the return of peace? Did they build a better world? Life could never be the same again. Employers laid off workers once existing contracts had been completed. Liverpool was still a thriving port but the city and the country as a whole were crippled by the cost of the war.

"Our people are living in flea-ridden, bug-ridden, rat-ridden, lousy hellholes." Bessie Braddock MP, maiden speech to Parliament, 1945

Celebrations

Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, when the Allied forces closed in on Germany from the east and west. The government declared VE day for Victory in Europe. People organised street parties for the children and pooled rations to make cakes and jellies. They decorated the streets with flags and bunting.

In July, there was a general election. Churchill was defeated and Labour won by a landslide.

Japan surrendered on 2 September after the Allies dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities. VJ Day marked the end of the war. After years of anxiety, hardship and sacrifice people knew that they were finally safe. Service men and women began to come home.

"At the end of the war my mum put the flags out, a great big Union Jack and a great big American flag." Marie Hain