Colonel Petr Uruba: Unforgettable VE-Day celebrations in London

Colonel Petr Uruba is a distinguished Czechoslovak air force veteran who fled to England in 1939 and joined the RAF. His plane was blown off course during a bombing mission over France, and he was forced to land in occupied Normandy. Captured by the Germans, he was court-martialled: as a subject of the Reich fighting for the Allies he was guilty of treason. He managed to escape the death sentence, and was sent to a series of POW camps, ending up in the infamous Colditz. Now 86, he recalls returning to London in 1945 and witnessing the scenes of jubilation on VE-Day.

"Well, we were liberated at Colditz in April. I had the chance to be taken back to the United Kingdom, and I was very emaciated; I had jaundice and my state of health was rather poor. So I was sent to a military hospital, where I had to stay and be well fed and be brought back to health. On the 8th of May, we learnt that the war was over, and my friend and I said 'there's no place for us here!' So we more or less fled the place. Once we got into London and saw what we saw on the 8th of May, that's something I naturally didn't expect, because everyone - everyone - was so happy. If there was something wooden to be burnt, it was - there were bonfires all over the place. From Piccadilly Circus down Pall Mall to Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family welcomed each new wave of happy Londoners. They appeared on the balcony - the King, the Queen, the princesses and also Mr Churchill, waving and shouting. Well, it was something not to be forgotten."