Meet the man who sent VE Day ‘end of the war in Europe’ message

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Hastings resident Gail Cohen has told the remarkable story of how her father became the wireless operator who took down the ‘End of the war in Europe’ message.

Norman Wilfred Cohen, 96, who now lives in Jerusalem, was drafted into the British Army in July 1942 and was trained as a wireless operator.

He had been due to go off shift when the message began to come through, 75 years ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gail said: “The replacement operator was not experienced in either Morse Code or the German language, so my dad remained at his post near Lunaberg Heath, Germany, and took down the message on his notepad.

Norman Cohen tells of his vital role in the end of the war in EuropeNorman Cohen tells of his vital role in the end of the war in Europe
Norman Cohen tells of his vital role in the end of the war in Europe

“He has kept a copy of the message and donated the original to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.”

Norman was proficient in Morse Code and was the one who transmitted the historic surrender message from the German High Command that ended the war in Europe in 1945. He later received a commendation from General Dempsey.

Norman lived most of his life in Leamington and ran Lancaster House for Carpets in Spencer Street for years. His wife, Lola, was a teacher at Arnold Lodge School.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The D-Day veteran reflected on his years during the war with the Jerusalem Post.

Norman and Lola CohenNorman and Lola Cohen
Norman and Lola Cohen | other

Talking about the war in what the paper describes as his ‘cool and nonchalant nature’, he said: “I was a very good soldier. I was sitting outside the wireless truck, drinking a cup of tea.

“The German planes overhead start firing at us, but I wasn’t nervous. I looked up, and saw the British guns firing at German planes.

“They hit one, and the plane started descending.

“I glanced at my mug, and I felt something. A lump of shrapnel had landed in my mug.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Norman Cohen with his familyNorman Cohen with his family
Norman Cohen with his family | other

“I said, ‘You spoiled me tea!’ I got myself some more and the firing stopped, and the plane had gone down.”

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.