Centenary of the Armistice

Today, Longhope commemorated the centenary of the end of World War 1. All around the village were signs that the village hasn’t forgotten. Richard Read (Transport) had one of its lorries specially painted for the occasion, and poppies adorned countless street signs and lampposts, as well as the wreath laying at the Rec and the Lion Monument.

The silent soldier

Wreaths at the Lion monument

Richard Read lorry

Memorial at the Rec

As October 1918 progressed the German effort was clearly coming to an end. Civil unrest, food shortages and Spanish flu were all taking their toll on German morale as much as the actual fighting. General Ludendorff was forced to resign, saying "In two weeks we shall have neither Emperor nor Empire’ which proved accurate. On 9th November it was announced that Kaiser Wilhelm II had resigned. The Allies demanded unconditional surrender, but the agreement was for an Armistice – a cease fire- which meant that the fighting would cease on 11am on 11th November.

On the Western Front the men were incredulous. Arthur Bullock of Longhope and 2/5thGlosters recalls "Rumours that the end might come quickly were circulating on 10th. November, and then, on the morning of 11th November, our platoon paraded in a lane outside our billet. It was bitterly cold and the road was covered in frozen snow and ice. The officer in charge said he had to read an order of the day, which he proceeded to do. It commenced "Hostilities will cease at 11.00 this morning". The reaction of his listeners astounded me. This was the announcement which they had all longed for years to hear. It was the best news they could possibly hope for. The announcement was received in dead silence and without any reaction at all."

Corporal Clifford Lane of the Hertfordshire Regiment said later "As far as the Armistice itself was concerned, it was a kind of anti-climax. We were too far gone, too exhausted really, to enjoy it. All we wanted to do was to go back to our billets, there was no cheering, no singing. That day we had no alcohol at all. We simply celebrated the Armistice in silence and thankfulness that it was all over. And I believe that happened quite a lot in France. It was such a sense of anti-climax. We were drained of all emotion. That's what it amounted to."

Sergeant–Major Richard Tobin, Royal Naval Division "We were stunned. I had been out since 1914. I should have been happy. I was sad. I thought of the slaughter, the hardships, the waste and the friends I had lost."

The War to End All Wars, the war from which the armies of 1914 would be home by Christmas, had ended. The guns on the Western Front at last fell silent, leaving both sides to mourn their dead. It would be some time before the men from Longhope walked along the village lanes again, and for many families the suffering continued for the rest of their lives.

Jo Phelps

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