'Where you there, in the Square ? - VE Day remembrances

Hamilton Square on VE Night 1945

Tomorrow, Friday 8 May 2015 is the anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day), marking 70 years since the end of the second world war in Europe.

We have a current exhibition which is a reminder that some didn’t make it to celebrate that night in Hamilton Square – war artist, Albert Richards was the youngest of the three British official war artists killed during the conflict.  On March 5th 1945 he drove his jeep into a minefield and was killed, aged only 25. This is a small selection of work by Richards, both from student days and during the Second World War.
His works will be on show till beginning of July and followed by another victim of WW2 Thomas Burke, opening 15th July the 70th anniversary of his death.

Thomas Burke was born in 1906 in Liverpool. During the 1920s and 30s he studied art at Liverpool College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 1941 he joined the Merchant Navy as 3rd Radio Officer on the ship the Dalesman. In May that year, the Dalesman was bombed and sunk by enemy aircraft off the coast of Crete. Burke, along with other Merchant Navy personnel, was transferred to Milag (Marine Internierten Lager, or Marine Internment Camp) at Westertimke, north west Germany. Whilst imprisoned, he produced many drawings and watercolours including images of camp life, portraits and set designs for theatrical productions. In 1945, Burke was repatriated to Britain. He died the same year on the 15th of July 1945 (70 years prior to the first day of the exhibition), probably of blackwater fever which he had contracted in the camps.


Elizabeth Davey. Elizabeth Davey, local historian and author of "Birkenhead: A History" told me when she used the picture "Hamilton Square on VE Night" in a talk, one of the audience, who was there at the time, told me that the old Birkenhead Corporation were castigated for wasting so much electricity on the celebrations. The response was that 'For every lamp burning in the Square a whole house in Wirral was in darkness'. 

Apparently people crossed the river from Liverpool to join in the celebrations as there was nothing as spectacular taking place on the other side.


  1. The name of the artist with the picture illustrated in our blog is Athol Ostell. Colin Simpson believes he was a commercial artist from Tranmere.


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