“TODAY will go down in history.”

These are not the words of Sir Winston Churchill or Field Marshal Montgomery.

These are the words of an ordinary – or extraordinary – man from Brighton called Frederick Higbee, though he preferred Gerry.

On May 8, 1945, Gerry was a telegraphist on a British submarine in the Far East. His daughter Sue Wheeler never knew exactly where because he never talked about it much.

When the news came in of Nazi Germany’s surrender, he did not cheer.

Instead, Gerry wrote a letter to his parents Fred and Emmeline.

The Argus: Gerry Higbee shows off his Royal Navy uniformGerry Higbee shows off his Royal Navy uniform

“We have heard about the crowds in London and the wild rejoicing,” he wrote.

“I was among a quite small handful of men gathered round a radio set, listening in silent approval to the news that most of them had fought for for five and a half years.

“There was no mad cheering or rejoicing.

“In fact, among these few men their feelings were those of mixed resentment and happiness.

“It seemed strange that whilst listening to these celebrations they should be engaged in an even harder struggle and these thoughts brought tears to their eyes.

“I tried to say something but the words choked in my throat before I could utter a sound.”

Gerry’s letter remained a secret between him and his parents until he died in 2006.

The Argus: Gerry with sweetheart Lilian after the warGerry with sweetheart Lilian after the war

Despite the outpouring of emotion on that day, Gerry kept his wartime experiences bottled up afterwards.

“His mother held on to these letters, then when she died he held on to them,” daughter Sue said.

“He didn’t talk much about the war, and when he did he was always emotional.”

Like most of those returning home he simply moved on, meeting his sweetheart Lilian Casson in the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness.

“Out of all the places he travelled he met her there,” Sue joked.

But VE Day also meant uncertainty.

Careers, love, and families were all put on hold by the war. Now everyone would have to get used to peace.

For many life was never the same after 1945. Here are some of their stories.

"If you went to tent B, you had no hope"

The Argus: William Earl will celebrate his 105th birthday on TuesdayWilliam Earl will celebrate his 105th birthday on Tuesday

William Earl celebrated VE Day in a camp outside Venice with a glass of Italian wine and some Italian girls.

Despite the tranquil end to the war, his wartime experience was harrowing. Many of the sights he saw as a combat medic have stayed with the 104-year-old, who has lived in Shoreham since the Fifties.

William met his soulmate Mary Standen in 1939 while he was working as a chemist for Boots in London and married her two years later while he was stationed in Kent with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

His first son, David, was born the following spring. William saw him only twice before he was shipped off.

“It was terrible to leave my family but one had a duty to do and one did it,” William said.

William first saw action in Enfidaville, Tunisia, in April 1942. It was a harsh initiation into war.

The Argus: William fought in the North African and Italian campaigns as a combat medicWilliam fought in the North African and Italian campaigns as a combat medic

“We had about three years of training on what to and what not to do,” William said.

“You can train all you like but when you’re in action you have to use your initiative.

“You’re prepared for it but it’s completely different when it actually happens.

“We were in an ambulance in Enfidaville and the shelling began.

“When shelling begins you’re supposed to dive on to the ground. But a man in front of us froze. He was killed.”

By May 1943 the Allies were victorious in North Africa. Attention soon turned to Italy, where William’s 214th Field Ambulance were to take part in the invasion.

He was there every step of the way, from the landings at Salerno Bay in September to the slow, bloody push through the Apennines mountains from August 1944.

On one fateful night William was part of a squad preparing to attack Monte Camino.

The Argus: William with author Liz Coward, who helped write his autobiography Blood and BandagesWilliam with author Liz Coward, who helped write his autobiography Blood and Bandages

“An hour before the raid I felt unwell and went to an officer,” William said.

“He examined me and said ‘You can’t go tonight’.

“I said: ‘I must, my friends are going’.

“But he said if I went and became unwell I would be a burden.

“Another soldier was picked to go in my place. They went out and they never came back.

“I never knew that soldier’s name.”

The Argus: William was featured in Gary Lineker's documentary My Grandad's War last yearWilliam was featured in Gary Lineker's documentary My Grandad's War last year

In the Apennines, William was forced to get even more familiar with death.

“We would set up two tents, tent A and tent B,” he said.

“The doctor would look at the wounded and shout ‘Tent A’ or ‘tent B’ and that’s all he had time for.

“If you were in tent A, he thought they could save you. If you went to tent B, you had no hope.

“I will always remember an Indian man who was wounded coming over. The doctor said ‘Tent B’.

“I looked at him and knew he was going to die.”

William finally returned to Britain in 1945.

He returned to work at Boots and had a second son, Michael, with Mary in 1952.

Four years later they moved to Shoreham. By 1993 Mary, David and Michael had all died of heart defects.

Three years ago William published his autobiography Blood And Bandages with author Liz Coward. He will celebrate his 105th birthday on Tuesday.

“Sometimes it feels unreal. It’s a strange thing,” he said.

“But the longer you live the more you experience life in all its aspects.

“Since the war ended we have had 75 years of peace and freedom. I feel like I can say I played a small part in that.”

Daring Dambuster at the age of 21

The Argus: Wing Commander John Bell had flown 50 missions by the time he was 21, including a D-Day operationWing Commander John Bell had flown 50 missions by the time he was 21, including a D-Day operation

John Bell knew he wanted to be in the RAF when he watched the Battle of Britain overhead in Surrey.

“I could tell then the war wasn’t going to go on for a few months, I knew it would be some years,” the 97-year-old Storrington resident said.

Training as a bomb aimer, he first enlisted in the 619 Squadron in Lincolnshire.

But in January 1944 he joined the 617 “Dambusters”, renowned for their precision.

On the night before D-Day John took flight in a Lancaster bomber dropping aluminium foil over the Channel in a bid to confuse German radar operators.

Two months later he had flown 50 operations at the young age of 21.

He was training other bomb aimers when news of Victory in Europe came through.

“I went to the control tower and found some rockets,” he said.

“I took them back to Surrey set them off there with my family.

“It was an exciting time to be alive.”

At the war’s end he retrained in accounting and worked at RAF Tangmere near Chichester.

“That was quite a change,” he joked.

But during the Cold War John moved into intelligence.

After 37 years in the RAF he retired at the rank of Wing Commander with an MBE to his name.

'I remember the headache'

The Argus: Ron Battell still lives in the Goring house his mother moved into after her Hackney home was destroyed by a V-1 rocketRon Battell still lives in the Goring house his mother moved into after her Hackney home was destroyed by a V-1 rocket

Sapper Ron Battell had lived in Hackney before he was called up to the Royal Engineers in 1944 aged 18.

But by the time he came home his family had moved to Goring. While he was away his previous home had been destroyed by a V-1 “Doodlebug” missile.

Ron said his time serving in Egypt, Palestine, and Kenya was comparatively quieter.

The Argus: Ron as a Royal Engineer in PalestineRon as a Royal Engineer in Palestine

“There were no heroics,” he said.

“By the end of the war I was stationed at the training camp in Alton Towers. I was building a gym for the officers.

“On VE Day we went to a pub in Cheadle and had a fair time of it.

“I remember the headache the morning after.”

Ron, now 94, still lives in the Barrington Road home his mother moved into during the war.

Sick of the sound of air raid sirens

The Argus: Eddie Sinclair joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service because she was fed up with air raids in LondonEddie Sinclair joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service because she was fed up with air raids in London

By the time she was 20, Eddie Sinclair was fed up with the Nazis bombing London.

“When you were just about to go to bed the air raid siren would go off and you’d have to go to the shelter,” the 97-year-old Worthing resident said.

“Eventually we didn’t bother going to bed and went straight to the shelter. The rain dripped on you when you were in bed.

"I’d walk past the Dollond and Aitchison factory every day. When it got bombed it sent the shrapnel our way. We were moved to a halfway house.”

After enjoying some respite working with Palmer and Harvey tobacconists in Northampton, against her mothers’ wishes Eddie enlisted in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Army’s female branch, in 1942.

The Argus: Eddie met future husband William after the warEddie met future husband William after the war

“I decided I would never go back to an air raid shelter. My mother was horrified but she couldn’t stop me,” she said.

“We used to finish accounting work and then go to Biggin Hill with the Americans for a dance.”

On VE Day Eddie danced the night away in Trafalgar Square like so many others.

She met her husband William the same year when he offered to help her with a bicycle puncture. He had fought for three and a half years in North Africa and Italy.

“He never talked about the war. He said to me ‘I’ve had my time in the desert and I never want to go abroad again’,” Eddie said.

William died at 58 but Eddie still lives in Worthing. “I’m probably the only living ATS veteran here,” she said.

'We danced round a big bonfire'

The Argus: Eric Nash has lived in Arundel his whole lifeEric Nash has lived in Arundel his whole life

Sergeant Eric Nash, now 92, had barely been conscripted when news of VE Day reached Arundel.

The town was fortified during the war, its bridges blockaded to prevent German tanks getting across.

And it became home to many Canadian and American soldiers.

Eric’s dad Albert patrolled the town’s pubs as a special constable to make sure they did not get too rowdy.

But that went out of the window on May 8.

The Argus: Eric in Padua, Italy, while serving in the Royal Army Service CorpsEric in Padua, Italy, while serving in the Royal Army Service Corps

“They were holding a big bonfire in the square and they were lugging out stuff from the Norfolk Hotel to burn,” Eric, then 18, said.

“It didn’t matter how nice anything was. There was a nice hat stand they threw straight into the fire. I was with my girlfriend and her sister dancing around with our arms over each other.”

An apprentice printer at the West Sussex Gazette, Eric joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1945.

He was transported to occupied Italy after VE Day and printed the forces’ Union Jack newspaper in Naples, Padua, and Venice.

“I was one of the last troops to leave Italy,” he said.

Eric still lives in Arundel, as he has done his whole life.