Elder says celebrating VE Day made his time as a PoW worth it

A Kirk elder who celebrated VE Day in Trafalgar Square in London 75 years ago said the pure joy of the occasion made the “hard” months he spent in a Prisoner of War camp worth it.

Albert Gunn said the “scary times” he endured after he was shot down over Germany and captured meant people across the UK could have a different future.

Albert Gunn
Albert Gunn as a young airman and as an author at the age of 93.

The 95-year-old, a former RAF gunner from Burntisland in Fife, said Victory in Europe Day is an important anniversary to mark and he is glad that younger generations are “learning” about the horrors and sacrifices of the Second World war.

Scenes of joy and jubilation

Mr Gunn was 18 years old when his Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber suffered catastrophic engine failure during a raid on Berlin in December, 1943.

He and his crew were forced to bail out just seconds before it crashed and exploded.

The straps on his parachute were damaged so he had to clutch the pack to his chest to make the jump and he made it to the ground safely.

Mr Gunn was captured by German soldiers not long after he landed on the edge of a field and taken to Stalag IV-B where he was a Kriegsgefangener -a prisoner-of-war.

Albert Gunn
Albert Gunn and his daughter, Rev Gillian Paterson

The Kinghorn Parish Church member battled hunger and drew on his strong Christian faith to maintain hope and his sanity until the camp near Leipzig was liberated in April 1945.

“I was in Trafalgar Square on VE Day, stopping off on my way home after being released from the prison camp,” he recalled.

“There were thousands of people there, all laughing, excited and celebrating the end of the war.

“I knew then that the hard years in the prison camp had been worth it, that all the scary times had meant we would have a different future.”

Mr Gunn, a grandfather of one, said VE Day, which celebrates the formal acceptance of Nazi Germany's surrender, is an important anniversary to mark.

“I am glad that the younger generations are learning about the war and what my generation went through as there were a lot of difficult moments,” he added.

“People all over the country suffered from bombings,rationing and loss of loved ones.

“VE Day meant all the sacrifices were over and a new future opened up which is what we all fought for.”

Mr Gunn’s war time story is included in a chapter in a book published in 2017 called the “Last of the Kriegies”.

Despite his ordeal, he bears no malice towards his captors.

"The war happened, I wanted to do my bit and I have no regrets," said Mr Gunn.

“I don’t hold a grudge against anyone involved in what happened to me while I was a PoW in Germany.”

Mr Gunn's daughter, Rev Gillian Paterson, minister of Wellesley Parish Church in Methill, Fife, said the family were “very proud” of him and VE Day was always an emotional occasion.