WW2 – A Cornish Story: Flora Day

Museum News

WW2 – A Cornish Story: Flora Day

This memory of Flora Day in 1945, which was also VE Day was deposited in the museum by Margaret Powell:

“My mother, Barbara Napier Hemy was born and brought up in Falmouth. When she married Adrian Gilbert Scott she lived in London. I am the third child of a family of 4 and holidays were spent in Cornwall sometimes St Ives and later in a farmhouse close to Dodman Point on the lizard.

My elder brother and sister could remember being taken to see the Flora Dance in the years between the wars. Although I cannot remember seeing it myself, it would have been discussed by the family.

We were all in London when The Blitz happened with bombing night after night. I looked my age and joined the WAAF, first as a plotter, later as a controller when I was stationed neat Exeter over D-Day. In early 1945, when fighting continued in Europe, we still maintained a watch system even though their were no enemy planes over England.

I was posted to the RADAR Station RAF Trevaylor, which controlled the Australian Fighter Squadron at Mullion. It was a cushy posting as we all lived in the Headland Hotel in Coverack and had little work to do. Then came the wonderful day when the war in Europe came to an end.

It was with this background that I happened to be in Helston in early May 1945 and saw a handwritten notice of The Flora Dance to be held on 8th May. I asked my CO if off-duty service people could have transport into Helston to take part in the dance. I passed the word around, after all we were celebrating VE Day and the end of blackouts. Helston had been in a restricted area for months along with the entire South Coast. Only children and the old were left following conscription, so an invasion of young RAF and WAAF in uniform would liven things up! So with buttons polished and shoes buffed we turned up and were made welcome!

The drum banged, there was not much more than an accordion for the tune, but we sang. Unlikely partners were found and in and out the houses we danced. On the tables as we danced were tiny helpings of treasured homemade wine and pathetic rations even made homemade cakes, biscuits, all welcomed by young hungry troops! We found it quite an exhausting dance. We were all checked into the lorry to take us back to Coverack. What a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the war in Europe.

We are looking for any memories of Helston and the Lizard during WW2, particularly of what life was like for those at home (going shopping, working as a post-person, going to school, memories of POW’s, rationing, etc). Do contact ww2project@museumofcornishlife.co.uk or call the museum

We’d love to know what you think about our Cornish Second World War stories. We’d be really grateful if you could take a couple of minutes to complete this short survey.

Museum of Cornish Life