Wendover Remembers, November 1918
At 5.15 am on Monday 11 November an Armistice was signed with Germany in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne near Paris. After four and a quarter years of fighting the combined forces of France, the British Empire, Italy and America had defeated the Central Powers led by Germany, Austria-Hungary and Turkey. At the Front most men received the news of the Armistice in a mood of subdued relief. Major Ewing of the Royal Scots Guards recorded that the Armistice “was welcomed by our troops in France in a spirit of sober gratitude”.
In London there was a different mood. Big Ben chimed for the first time since August 1914. Church bells rang out and London “gave itself up to wholehearted rejoicing”. Cheering crowds filled the streets. The outpourings of jubilation were no less evident outside London. On 16 November the Bucks Herald published a report of the scene in Wendover when news of the Armistice became known:
‘Our correspondent writes: It was a beautiful morning, and people were at work in their gardens or at their usual occupation, when about twenty minutes past eleven the hooter at the Aylesbury Rivet Works gave the first intimation to the Wendoverians generally that the Armistice had been signed. In quick succession it was followed by the whistles at the Mill and trains in the station yard. Immediately there was cheering in all directions, from individuals in public places and private dwellings, also men at work, who stopped to dwell on the great blessing that had come to the world. Soon flags were flying from the windows, and motors and vehicles were decorated, one of the first being our little Belgian friend, George Verachtert, riding his bicycle with a Union Jack and Belgian flag entwined. Alderman West was out with his motor flying the same Union Jack that took the first volunteers to the Recruiting Station at Aylesbury when war broke out. On the public works the men were given the rest of the day, and the town soon began to present an animated appearance. In the afternoon the soldiers from the camps nearby thronged the streets singing and cheering, and the Y.M.C.A. had a tremendously busy time. Thankfulness and joy prevailed everywhere. Although a drizzling rain came on in the afternoon, the crowd diminished but little, and the boys cheered as they marched about with flags. Nearly all the shops closed during the afternoon, and the church bells rang out merrily. On Tuesday evening a service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church “to thank God for the end of the war and for the triumph of the cause of Right and for the deliverance of the world from the great peril which beset it.” The bell of the town clock, which has remained silent so long resumed its familiar sounds on Tuesday”.
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