We celebrate the heroes and heroines of the Second World War on VE Day

As we lead up to the 75th Anniversary of VE day, we wanted to find a way to commemorate the brave and wonderful heroes and heroines who so valiantly fought to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

We are all facing our own challenges at the moment, and they are not to be dismissed in comparison to the challenges faced by our ancestors 75 years ago. But should serve as a reminder that we have experienced tough times in our past, and have risen to the challenges faced, to build ourselves back up and be great once again.

For one of the Amdas team, VE day means so very much. Mark Edwards’ Uncle, Victor Rapley, lost his life in the final stages of the war. Victor had spent five years in the Royal Artillery. On January 17th 1945, he was part of an Anti-Tank Regiment that was tasked with defending a small re-captured Dutch village, Sint Annaland near Rotterdam. An hour after leaving base at 10pm to go on patrol, a German sniper killed Victor along with two other soldiers. Victor’s family, including sister Audrey (Mark’s mother), were informed of the devastating news via telegram and Victor’s body was laid to rest in the local cemetery of Sint Annaland.

Audrey, who today is 91 years old, has recounted the story recently in SeNine Magazine (page 13). The family regularly make the pilgrimage to Sint Annaland to visit Victor’s grave which has become a symbol of freedom for the 3000 inhabitants. Unfortunately, this year, Audrey and the family have been unable to make the journey to the Netherlands to celebrate VE day and remember how Victor and over one million other British soldiers lost their lives, fighting for our freedom.

In a recent interview that has appeared on Facebook, Audrey tells us how the tragic death of her brother affected their family but how out of tragedy, they have formed special bonds with the residents of Sint Annaland, not least, Arie Weijler whose aunt had had tea with the soldiers and waved cheerio to them as they went on patrol the night they were killed.

We wanted to share this story with you today to both honour and remember all of the brave men and women who had to endure so much during the Second World War.

Whilst we wage our own 21st-century war against an invisible enemy, and, like Audrey and her family, we will lose loved ones, we need to remember that out of bad, there always comes good. Whether it is the lessons we learn to make time for our loved ones, cherish our family or enjoy the simple things in life, our VE day will come and by being united, we will rise to the challenges and be great once again.

Stay safe everyone.