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Share your family's stories to mark VE Day in Maidstone

Did your grandfather serve in the trenches in the Second World War, or your great-aunt tend to soldiers’ wounds in a medical tent?

One Maidstone, which manages the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), wants to hear about the role your ancestors played in the war, for a project to mark VE Day.

Victory parties for children were held in many Maidstone Streets, including Victoria Street, to celebrate VE day in May 1945
Victory parties for children were held in many Maidstone Streets, including Victoria Street, to celebrate VE day in May 1945

At the start of April, the group will place 10 banner flags and 65 posters in the town centre, which will bear the name and photo of a Maidstone local, and detail their contributions to the war effort.

They will be displayed in the run-up to VE Day, Friday, May 8, to mark Germany’s surrender to the Allied Forces in 1945, and up until the end of May.

One Maidstone wants to hear about as many lives as possible, so whether your relatives fought on front line, or toiled on the land, all submissions are welcome for the project, named One Maidstone, 75 stories.

Ilsa Butler, BID manager, said: “It’s really interesting to think about what everyday life was like. Hopefully seeing the posters in shops can encourage people to look at their own family history."

Celebrations in Grecian Street, Maidstone, after peace was announced in 1945
Celebrations in Grecian Street, Maidstone, after peace was announced in 1945

Ahead of the project, the group reflected on their own relatives’ roles in the two world wars. Granville Powell, grandad to Sarah-Jane Adams, BID marketing manager, served as an army cook in the Second World War.

A butcher from Wales, he travelled to Egypt and across Europe, cooking for the troops.

ID manager Ilsa Butler’s grandfather, Horace Ludlam, fought in trenches during the First World War, and set up The Shelbourne Cafe in Maidstone, on a site now occupied by Kent County Council.

After trench warfare in the First World War, Horace Ludlam (right) set up the Shelbourne Cafe in Maidstone
After trench warfare in the First World War, Horace Ludlam (right) set up the Shelbourne Cafe in Maidstone

The group hopes the town’s garrison connections will ensure One Maidstone, 75 Stories, receives a warm reception.

Street parties broke out across Maidstone when peace was declared, with celebrations taking place in Victoria Street and Grecian Street, amongst other locations.

If you would like your relative to considered for the campaign, please send their name, a high quality image taken around wartime and what they did during the conflict. The relative must have a connection to Maidstone and all submissions should be sent by Saturday, March 1 to sarah-jane.adams@onemaidstone.com.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone


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