W

Sunderland Echo - - Armistice 100 -

hen the guns fell silent on Novem­ber 11, 1918, mil­lions of Bri­tish Em­pire sol­diers hoped they would soon be back home.

But the task of de­mo­bil­is­ing so many troops was huge. The govern­ment’s ef­forts to quickly in­te­grate re­turn­ing sol­diers back into so­ci­ety had mixed re­sults. There was also much de­bate about how best to mark the Al­lied vic­tory and com­mem­o­rate the fallen. of civil­ians flocked to the cap­i­tal for the fes­tiv­i­ties. Nearly 15,000 Bri­tish Em ire ser­vice­men Dou­glas Haig and Mar­shal Fer­di­nand Foch. hon­our the dead - for the march­ing troops to salute as they passed along White­hall. His sim­ple and non­de­nom­i­na­tional mon­u­ment was rep­re­sented on the day of the Vict a tem­po­rary struc­ture of wood and plas­ter. The per­ma­nent stone memo­rial was un­veiled on Ar­mistice Day 1920. It is now the scene of the an­nual Na­tional Ser­vice of Re­mem­brance. The pa­rade made a great pres­sion on the thounds who wit­nessed it. ‘The orn­ing Post’ re­ported that: ear the memo­rial there re mo­ments of si­lence en the dead seemed very ar, when one al­most heard e pas­sage of count­less ngs - were not the fallen ther­ing in their hosts to ceive their com­rades’ sate and take their share in e tri­umph they had died win?’

le­bra­tions and memol ser­vices took place all er the coun­try. But there s some crit­i­cism that this s too ex­trav­a­gant when many ex-ser­vice­men re now un­em­ployed. In an­ch­ester, de­mo­bilised ldiers marched with gans like ‘Hon­our the ad - re­mem­ber the liv­ing’, d to de­mand ‘work not ar­ity’. Some ar­gued that e money would be bet­ter ent sup­port­ing re­turn­ing rvice­men who had sufred phys­i­cal and men­tal uries. Af­ter the Ar­mistice, steps were taken to de­mo­bilise mil­lions of sol­diers and repa­tri­ate prison­ers of war. The Sec­re­tary of State for War, Lord Derby, orig­i­nally pro­posed that the first men to be re­leased should be those who held es­sen­tial jobs in in­dus­try. How­ever, as th­ese men were in­vari­ably those who had been called up in the lat­ter part of the war, this meant that men with the long­est ser­vice were the last to be de­mo­bilised.

At a time when revo­lu­tion­ary ideas were sweep­ing across Europe, Lord Derby’s scheme was very un­pop­u­lar. On De­cem­ber 9, 1918, men of the Royal Ar­tillery sta­tioned at Le Havre burnt down sev­eral de­pots in a riot. On Jan­uary 3, 1919, frus­trated sol­diers mu­tinied at Folke­stone when they heard they were be­ing sent back to France. Later that month, a mutiny at Calais in­volv­ing around 20,000 men wit­nessed the tem­po­rary for­ma­tion of sol­diers’ coun­cils.

In re­sponse, the new Sec­re­tary of State for War, Win­ston Churchill, in­tro­duced a new scheme in Jan­uary 1919. Based on age, length of

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.