Flying the Flag! Wartime flag displayed above Walsoken on VE Day in 1945 will return to the Fens

PUBLISHED: 12:43 04 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:36 05 May 2020

John Wing with the Union Flag that was hung above Walsoken Methodist Chapel on VE Day on May 8, 1945. He is the grandson of Frank Albins (Top Right) who climbed the lightning conductor above the chapel with his son Cedric (Bottom Right) to fly the flag.

John Wing with the Union Flag that was hung above Walsoken Methodist Chapel on VE Day on May 8, 1945. He is the grandson of Frank Albins (Top Right) who climbed the lightning conductor above the chapel with his son Cedric (Bottom Right) to fly the flag.

Wisbech and Fenland Museum

Both keen to commemorate VE Day in 1945, a father and son risked their own safety to make sure this flag of the Union Jack was proudly displayed high above Walsoken.

Cedric Albins, and his father Frank, borrowed a very long ladder used in the family orchard to make sure the Union Jack was displayed above Walsoken on VE Day, 1945. Cedric was a RAF pilot during World War II and is pictured in his wartime flying uniform.Cedric Albins, and his father Frank, borrowed a very long ladder used in the family orchard to make sure the Union Jack was displayed above Walsoken on VE Day, 1945. Cedric was a RAF pilot during World War II and is pictured in his wartime flying uniform.

Wisbech and Fenland Museum had arranged for the flag to return to the Fens and be part of a display to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day - but plans had to change because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet it has decided to still share the story about how Frank Albins and his son Cedric scaled Walsoken Methodist Chapel for a public gesture to commemorate one of the final milestones of the Second World War.

Frank, a local engineer, and Cedric, a wartime RAF pilot, borrowed a very long ladder used to reach fruit from the tallest trees in the family orchard to get to the top of the chapel.

They then tied the flag to metalwork on the gable.

Frank Albins was an engineer and a member of Wisbech Auxiliary Fire Service during the war. Here, Frank is pictured in his Auxiliary Fire Service uniform.Frank Albins was an engineer and a member of Wisbech Auxiliary Fire Service during the war. Here, Frank is pictured in his Auxiliary Fire Service uniform.

Frank’s grandson, John Wing, who now owns the flag and lives in Ware, Hertfordshire, said: “My grandmother Carrie Albins was much disturbed, apparently, when she realised how the flag got up there!

“I remember being shown how to erect the long ladder as a child in the late 1950s in my grandfather’s small orchard on the corner of Lerowe Road and Norwich Road.”

John’s family lived in Kirkgate Street, Walsoken, next door to the Methodist Chapel which has since been demolished.

Cedric, John’s uncle, had volunteered to join the RAF in 1942 when he was 18. After training in the USA, he was involved in navigator training in the later stages of the war.

Walsoken Methodist Chapel in the 1960s. Photographed by Geoff Hasting/Courtesy of Andy KetleyWalsoken Methodist Chapel in the 1960s. Photographed by Geoff Hasting/Courtesy of Andy Ketley

Frank was a member of the Wisbech Auxiliary Fire Service.

John added: “I wanted to celebrate VE Day’s 75th anniversary by giving the flag back to Wisbech, where it belongs.”

The flag will still go on display at the museum when the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.

Museum curator Robert Bell said: “The flag was offered and we were delighted to accept, but as Covid-19 intervened we’ve decided to post online on Twitter and Facebook the photographs of the flag itself and John’s family members which he kindly emailed to us, along with the story.

“We hope that one day not too far off we’ll be able to take in the real thing and that John will be able to visit and see it on display.”


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