Armistice Day 1918 and Peace Day 1919
- Date start:
- 11 Nov 1918
- Date end:
- 19 Jul 1919
The First World War armistice came into effect at 11am on 11 November 1918, the 'eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month'. According to the Daily Mirror, London went 'wild with delight' when it heard the news:
'Bells burst forth into joyful chimes...bands paraded the streets followed by cheering crowds of soldiers and civilians and London generally gave itself up wholeheartedly to rejoicing .... There was a scene of wonderful loyalty at Buckingham Palace, dense crowds were shouting "We want the King!"'
Armistice marked the end of fighting on the Western Front, but formal negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference continued into 1919. The Allies' formal peace treaty with Germany, the Treaty of Versailles, was not officially signed until 28 June.
As negotiations continued, the British government planned a public celebration. The Peace Committee was established to decide how Britain would mark the end of the war.
The committee first met in London on 9 May 1919, chaired by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon. Its initial proposal of a four-day August celebration was scaled down and brought forward after the Paris signing. A single day of festivities was planned for 19 July.
The proposal did not receive universal approval. Some felt that the funds would be better spent on support for returning servicemen, many of whom struggled to cope with physical and mental injuries and high unemployment levels.
London became the focus of nationwide Peace Day celebrations on Saturday 19 July. A huge military camp sprang up in Kensington Gardens and thousands of people descended on the capital.
Hundreds spent Friday night in parks and streets to secure a good position along the parade route. By eight o'clock on Saturday morning it was almost impossible to cross Trafalgar Square.
Nearly 15,000 servicemen took part in the Victory parade, led by the Allied commanders. In Whitehall the parade saluted a temporary wood and plaster monument, the Cenotaph, dedicated to 'The Glorious Dead'.
Entertainments and performances continued throughout the day in London's central parks. At 9.45pm, Hyde Park hosted a lavish and spectacular firework display finale.
On Armistice Day 1920, the body of an Unknown Warrior was buried at Westminster Cathedral. At 11am, the King unveiled the new Cenotaph in Whitehall, now a permanent memorial in Portland stone. As the 11 chimes faded away, the crowd observed two minutes' silence.
Two minutes' silence are still observed on Armistice Day. Official commemorations are also held at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, the closest Sunday to 11 November, each year.
What are these?
Social Bookmarking allows users to save and categorise a personal collection of bookmarks and share them with others. This is different to using your own browser bookmarks which are available using the menus within your web browser. Use the links below to share this article on the social bookmarking site of your choice. Read more about social bookmarking at Wikipedia - Social Bookmarking.