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ARMISTICE ANNIVERSARY: How the Advertiser reported the end of the war 100 years ago

A ‘joyous, memorable and solemn function’ was how the Advertiser described a church ceremony marking the new municipal year at St Mary’s Church, in Maidenhead High Street, which took place during the armistice negotiations.

On that Sunday, November 10, 1918, ‘angels of peace’ were ‘hovering so close that one might almost hear the beating of their wings’, according to a report that appeared in the paper’s edition of Wednesday, November 13 .

“The bright November sun flooding the clear morning sky was emblematical of the bright news that was on every lip and of the joyous resurrection of spirit felt in every heart,” the uncredited journalist wrote.

The mayor, councillors, officials, justices and emergency services went to church ‘with this stranger-spirit, the thick veil of gloom and anxiety lifted to let in once more the brilliance of hope and peace and the cessation of wholesale slaughter, with cheerful music and all the processional panoply which Maidenhead could muster’.

Plenty had happened since the previous week’s edition of the Advertiser. Kaiser Wilhelm in Germany had abdicated on November 9 and Kaiser Charles I renounced his rule in Austria and Hungary.

In the early morning of Monday, November 11, Germany signed the Armistice of Compiegne, named after the forest in France where the three-day negotiations took place. By that time, the Austro-Hungarians and Ottomans had ceased fighting.

The Advertiser reported how the streets and marketplace rang out with singing of Rule Britannia, God Save the King and Auld Lang Syne.

The Union Jack was hoisted up the town hall flag pole, church bells rang out and people in the street congratulated each other.

According to the report: “Staid business men and sedate matrons vied with the workmen, the munition girls, the boys and girls freed from public and private school, in joyful flag-wagging.

“The babes in prams were not to be denied their little flags.”

Pubs were ‘besieged’ upon opening at noon, with al fresco dancing taking place outside the town hall.

A ‘horny-handed toiler’ proclaimed that ‘we’ve bloomin’ well bust his big sausage-skin’, referring to the Kaiser, and ‘joyful peals’ rang out in Bray, in earshot of the German prisoners of war in Holyport.

A ‘hastily organised’ progress of victory organised for Monday evening ‘resembled the aspects of a continental carnival’ and featured a parade.


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