Joyce Paynter remembers the day clearly. She was working at the Canadian Military headquarters in London, England when her Corporal came into the room shouting, "it’s over, it’s over!" It was May 8, 1945 and the 19-year-old had just learned that World War II had officially ended. The fighting and hardships that had consumed her life since she left school at the age of 14 to volunteer with the Red Cross had become a thing of the past.
May 8 became known as Victory in Europe Day (VE Day). It marks the Allies’ formal acceptance of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces.
Paynter, who now lives in Charlottetown, wears her uniform and medals proudly to honour those who served and those who died in the War. On May 8, 2015, Canadians across the country will join her in paying tribute to veterans for the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
"On behalf of City Council, we sincerely thank the veterans of all wars who made sacrifices so that we can live in safety and in peace," said Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. "We cannot begin to understand everything they did for this country and countries overseas, but it is our hope that together we will keep their memories alive, never forget what they went through or take for granted what was being celebrated with each Liberation and on VE Day."
For Paynter, VE Day is of the utmost importance. She has spent time in local schools talking to children about her experiences leading up to the end of the War, and she hopes that related history lessons will continue long after she’s gone.
"Of course, it means an awful lot to know we are not forgotten and that the anniversary of VE Day is being recognized, but it is not just something that needs to happen while there are living World War II veterans," said Paynter, during a recent visit to City Hall. "On this 70th anniversary and in the many years that follow, I want people to think about the price that some paid so we might live in peace. It is a history lesson we can’t afford to forget."
For a VE Day video gallery, visit: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/video-gallery/video/8238
To learn more, visit: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/
Photo cutline: World War II Veteran Joyce Paynter sits with Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee to share stories of her time at the Canadian Military headquarters in London, England. She reflects on the Victory of Europe Day – May 8, 1945 – and holds a photo from the celebrations at Buckingham Palace, where she stood at the gates to watch Winston Churchill, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth celebrate the end of WWII. Paynter shares her hope that the public will continue to remember the sacrifices of all veterans in the years to come – well beyond the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
City of Charlottetown