Cel­e­bra­tions greet end of four long years

Accrington Observer - - GREAT WAR CENTENARY SPECIAL -

HERE we re­pro­duce a 1918 Ob­server re­port on how the news of peace reached the bor­ough and the cel­e­bra­tions (and re­flec­tion) which en­sued:


The end of hos­til­i­ties Terms of the armistice a com­plete sur­ren­der Ger­man Army to re­tire be­hind the Rhine THE war is ended.

In the dawn of yes­ter­day, Ger­many signed armistice which makes im­pos­si­ble the re­newal of hos­til­i­ties.

The terms amount to com­plete sur­ren­der.

At 10-20 yes­ter­day morn­ing, the Prime Min­is­ter made the fol­low­ing an­nounce­ment through the Press Bureau:

The armistice was signed at 5 o’clock this morn­ing, and hos­til­i­ties are to cease on all fronts at 11am to­day.

Fol­low­ing swiftly on the fore­go­ing a state­ment was is­sued by Mar­shal Foch and an­other by the Ger­man High Com­mand, these be­ing as fol­lows: From Foch Hos­til­i­ties will cease on the whole front as from Novem­ber 11, at 11 o’clock (French time). The Al­lied troops will not, un­til a fur­ther or­der, go be­yond a line reached on that date and at that hour. (Signed) Foch. Ger­man plenipo­ten­tiaries to the Ger­man High Com­mand:

To be com­mu­ni­cated to all the au­thor­i­ties in­ter­ested.

Armistice was signed five o’clock in the morn­ing, French time.

It comes in force at eleven o’clock in the morn­ing, French time.

De­lay for evac­u­a­tion pro­longed by 24 hours for the left bank of the Rhine be­sides the five days, there­fore 31 days in all.

Mod­i­fi­ca­tions of the text com­pared with that brought by Hell­dorf will be trans­mit­ted by ra­dio.

In an as­ton­ish­ingly short time af­ter the re­ceipt of the news, Ac­cring­ton and district had, with com­mon con­sent, put down work for the day and given it­self up to re­joic­ing.

All over the town mill and work­shop buzzers sig­nalled the “cease fire” and soon men, women, and girls were troop­ing jaun­tily through the streets.

Flags and bunting ap­peared as if by wave of a ma­gi­cian’s wand, the chil­dren, let loose from school, waved tiny flags and shouted their ‘Hur­rahs.’

Once more, the wel­come sound of the Old Church bells were heard ring­ing a merry peal. The Joy Bells at last!

From some­where, af­ter be­ing for­bid­den for many a long day, fire­works sud­denly made their ap­pear­ance and all day long the booms of ex­plod­ing ‘can­non’ fol­lowed close upon each other.

Young Ac­cring­ton, at least was ‘let­ting it­self go; and who shall blame it?

By early af­ter­noon, the main streets of Ac­cring­ton pre­sented a joy­ous spec­ta­cle such as they have not pro­vided since the day the King and Queen came among us.

Even the weather clerk was smil­ing, the day was beau­ti­fully fine and com­par­a­tively mild, and peo­ple turned out in their thou­sands ready and ea­ger to make the best of it.

They thronged Black­burn Road, a sea of happy faces, talk­ing ea­gerly and gladly of the end of the war.

All else save the glo­ri­ous news of the day was for­got­ten; the prob­lems of to­mor­row were left to take care of them­selves.

They were shak­ing off some of the dull and dead­en­ing ef­fects of the weari­ness and were ab­sorb­ing some of the news and ex­hil­a­rat­ing at­mos­phere that has come with Vic­tory and the end of the war.

By and by, a band ap­peared, led through the streets by a berib­boned sol­dier, and the drums of the Boy Scouts lent their mar­tial throb to the con­stant drone of the talk of the crowd.

It was a great day, and one that will long be re­mem­bered.

Yes­ter­day’s hol­i­day in­fec­tion spread in at least one di­rec­tion that had prob­a­bly never been con­tem­plated.

By the mid­dle of the af­ter­noon, the tram­cars had ceased run­ning.

The tramway em­ploy­ees felt, like ev­ery­body else, that they were en­ti­tled to a hol­i­day, and while I can­not find in my heart to blame them too much, the re­sult was cer­tainly un­for­tu­nate from the point of view of the pub­lic con­ve­nience.

Sup­pose all those who carry on the pub­lic ser­vices - the rail­way­men, the postal work­ers, the gas stok­ers, the elec­tric­ity works staff - had done the same, where should we have been?

It was a mis­take, the re­sult of the ex­u­ber­ance of the mo­ment.

I saw some amus­ing things the day wore on.

In one quar­ter of the town, some in­ge­nious youths had rigged up quite a pass­able ef­figy of the un­crowned Kaiser, hel­met, up­turned mous­tache and all, and that un­happy arch-felon was be­ing un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously hauled about on a clothes line to be fi­nally “burned at the stake” when the time came for the bon­fire light­ing.

The un­happy Kaiser died many deaths yes­ter­day at the hands of youth­ful ad­min­is­tra­tors of condign jus­tice.

Amid all this re­joic­ing, our thoughts turned of­ten to the ab­sent ones, our sons and broth­ers and hus­bands and friends out yon­der at the front.

One hoped that they too were cel­e­brat­ing the vic­tory they so gal­lantly won.

What a sight that would be if we could have them all come march­ing home again, their hon­ours and their tri­umphs thick upon them! But that can­not be.

Many a long day must elapse be­fore some of us are re­united with those we sent forth to fight our bat­tles.

But we may be sure that they are re­joic­ing with a zest that only those who have shared the vic­tory may prop­erly dis­play.

I wish I could send ev­ery one of them a pho­to­graph of Ac­cring­ton as it was yes­ter­day af­ter­noon when we were do­ing hon­our to them by cel­e­brat­ing the great achieve­ments made pos­si­ble by their sac­ri­fice and their hero­ism.

And much as we long to see our boys again, the one con­sol­ing thought is that it will no longer be the de­tes­ta­tion of war but the re­or­gan­i­sa­tion of peace that will ab­sorb their en­er­gies.

I asked a friend of mine yes­ter­day af­ter­noon how he pro­posed to cel­e­brate the end of the war.

“I’ll light the gas tonight,” said he, “and I won’t pull the blind down.

“There’ll be about as much sat­is­fac­tion in that as any­thing I can think of, af­ter four years of com­pul­sory blind­draw­ing on the edge of dark­ness.”

I was glad to see that the day was marked mu­nic­i­pally as well as in other ways.

Hav­ing, in his first year of of­fice, been “War Mayor,” it was par­tic­u­larly fit­ting that Ald. De­whurst should at the very com­mence­ment of his sec­ond year of of­fice, be able to an­nounce in his of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity the sign­ing of the armistice and the ces­sa­tion of hos­til­i­ties and pro­claim him­self “Peace Mayor.”

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon a hastily-ar­ranged meet­ing was held on the Mar­ket ground, in the pres­ence of thou­sands of peo­ple, at which the Mayor was able to ex­press his pride and sat­is­fac­tion that the day of vic­tory had ar­rived and the war was at an end, adding to that the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of the armistice.

A pleas­ing fea­ture of this unique gather­ing was the pre­sen­ta­tion by the Mayor of the D.C.M. and the Medaille Mil­i­taire to Lieut. Har­ri­son of Ac­cring­ton, who has ren­dered gal­lant ser­vice in the war, both in Gal­lipoli and in France.

It was a plea­sure to see Capt. Har­wood tak­ing part in yes­ter­day af­ter­noon’s cel­e­bra­tion and to hear him de­clare, like the good pa­triot he is, “I’m proud to be a Bri­tisher.”

It was good to hear from him that the “Pals” Bat­tal­ion, which has played its part so worthily in the war-alas! at so heavy a cost - has again been dis­tin­guish­ing it­self, and to hear, too, his ap­pre­cia­tive ref­er­ence to the How­itzer Brigade, and to all oth­ers who have hero­ically borne their part in the great strug­gle.

Ac­cring­ton is proud of ev­ery one of its sol­dier sons.

One won­dered where on earth all the fire­works that were “let off” yes­ter­day could have come from.

From noon till late night it was “bang! bang! bang!” and the aroma of burn­ing gun­pow­der per­vaded the air. It was a pleas­ant and a strik­ing change to see the main streets fully lighted as the first de­par­ture from war-time re­stric­tions, and while Black­burn Road was last night de­cid­edly ‘lively,’ it can, I think, be said that in the main the youth of the town kept it­self pretty well within bounds.

Need­less to say, the houses of en­ter­tain­ment did par­tic­u­larly good busi­ness and ‘house full’ was ev­ery­where the rule.

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