Partying 1940s Style: Part 4 – What party music mix should I have?

7th May 2020 / Museum, Museum blog

For our final VE Day party blog we consider that tricky party question… What party music mix should I have?

Putting together that ultimate party play list can be very tricky. Trying to satisfy everyone’s taste in music is almost impossible these days. This is perhaps the one time that it might have been easier in the 1940s!

During World War II music provided a distraction, it allowed people to escape for a few minutes from the realities of war. At a time when emotions were running high, music brought laughter, tears but above all optimism and the will to carry on.

Songs covered patriotism, love, parting, comedy and the new realities of war such as rationing and blackout, along with countless songs of good cheer. For every emotion of wartime there was at least one special song which rallied the listener. You can listen to clips from some of these songs on the BBC website 

This sheet music from the museum’s collection are just some of the many songs written during the war that pressed home the message of optimism.

We’ve got our troubles and we’ve got our cares,
But as long as we keep smiling through,
There’ll come a day when the clouds roll away,
And the sun will be shining anew.

Patiently we’re waiting down Rainbow Lane
To greet our dear ones back home again.
Shine on victory moon, shine on
And guide our loved ones home.

Many of these wartime songs have become iconic (go on admit it, you can sing at least the chorus of Run, Rabbit, Run!) as have some of their performers. It could be said that Dame Vera Lynn’s rendition of, We’ll Meet Again, has become the anthem of World War II.

Morale boosting music was everywhere in the 1940s, not just on the radio at home but in the dance halls and factories. During World War II, Westinghouse Brake & Signal Company, increased their production to support the war effort. To maintain morale and ultimately production music was played in the factory and during special concerts by the work’s own orchestra, some of which were broadcast by the BBC.

As well as home grown talent, Chippenham was introduced to music from further afield. A camp for Spanish refugees was established in Greenway Lane early in 1940s and when America entered the war in 1941, camps were soon set up in and around Chippenham. This brought the locals into contact with many different musical influences.

One Chippenham resident remembers…

“The Americans did put on some good dances. They put on dances in the Co-op Hall and in the Neeld Hall. Of course totally different dancers, the Spanish were much more polished dancers. We did Ballroom dancing especially tangos and rumbas the Americans just the opposite with their jive! Which took a bit of getting used to.”

So it seems that there was no shortage of entertainment in Chippenham, as we can see in these pictures from the Museum collection.

So when considering that party mix follow the lead of the 1940s and choose music that makes you feel… whatever that feeling may be!

So now you have your home decorated, the food ready and your party clothes on. Just download your play list and party like its 1945.

We believe that it’s never been more fitting to mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. So let’s celebrate the nation’s resilience and spirit, then and indeed now.

Stay safe, stay in and party on!


In the words of Jack Buchanan, “No matter what the score, when the clock strikes four, Everything stops for tea”, so grab a cuppa and settle down at 4pm tomorrow as Chippenham Town Council marks VE Day virtually by releasing a video made by local community groups. Look out for it on the Town Council’s Facebook page and social media platforms.

Please share your virtual get-togethers and sing-alongs using the hashtag #VEDayChippenham, we would love to see them.