Church bells rang as war was fi­nally over

Warwickshire Telegraph - - WE WILL REMEMBER THEM - By DUN­CAN GIB­BONS

THE fight­ing fi­nally came to an end on a train in north­ern France.

At 11am on Novem­ber 11, 1918 fa­mously the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - a cease­fire came into ef­fect af­ter an armistice was signed in a rail­way car­riage in the for­est of Com­piegne, mark­ing a vic­tory for the Al­lies and a com­plete de­feat for Ger­many.

The ar­rival of Amer­ica into the war in 1917 af­ter 128 Amer­i­cans died when a Ger­man U-boat sank the pas­sen­ger liner Lusi­ta­nia, and a ma­jor short­age of food and sup­plies due to the on­go­ing block­ade of Ger­man ports, were two ma­jor fac­tors be­hind Ger­many’s de­feat.

To cel­e­brate, blow­ers were sounded at the British Thom­sonHous­ton works in Rugby, train driv­ers blew their whis­tles, church bells rang out across Coven­try and chil­dren were sent home from school.

In Lon­don, ac­cord­ing to the Daily Mir­ror, peo­ple went “wild with de­light” and “bells burst forth into joy­ous chimes.”

Nev­er­the­less a for­mal state of war per­sisted for an­other seven months, un­til the sign­ing of the Treaty of Ver­sailles on June 28, 1919, forc­ing Ger­many to give up sub­stan­tial ar­eas of land, re­strict its mil­i­tary and pay around £284 bil­lion in to­day’s money in repa­ra­tions.

To mark the for­mal end of war, Peace Day cel­e­bra­tions were held across the coun­try on Satur­day, July 19.

Around 10,000 peo­ple lis­tened to bands in Rugby, and Al­ces­ter held a sports day.

In Coven­try nearly 20,000 school chil­dren as­sem­bled at Pool Meadow be­fore parad­ing through the city streets.

In the af­ter­noon, 4,000 peo­ple packed St Michael’s Cathe­dral for a ser­vice of prayer with an­other 4,000 out­side.

Later, a meal was held at the Na­tional Kitchen in Ford Street for wid­ows and or­phans, and for those who had been dis­abled.

But the main event was the tra­di­tional Coven­try Go­diva pro­ces­sion, which left Bar­rack Square at 3pm for a tour of the city cen­tre.

Around 150 his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters were rep­re­sented, in­clud­ing Lady Go­diva, played by Gla­dys Mann.

Some peo­ple in the crowd com­plained that the pro­ces­sion was too short and passed so quickly that they had no time to work out who the his­toric fig­ures were.

But a far more se­ri­ous crit­i­cism was the omis­sion from the pro­ces­sion of sol­diers and fac­tory work­ers who had been so cru­cial to the war ef­fort

Tem­pers flared that night, spark­ing three days of ri­ot­ing in the city cen­tre.

Win­dows were smashed, shops were looted and more than 100 peo­ple were in­jured.

At the height of the trou­ble, 7,000 peo­ple were in­volved, with 100 ba­ton-armed po­lice­men try­ing to re­store or­der.

Some peo­ple blamed fac­tory work­ers who could no longer af­ford to pay their rent while oth­ers ac­cused ex-ser­vice­men, who were strug­gling to find work and who had been crit­i­cal of the money be­ing “wasted” on the fes­tiv­i­ties.

The af­ter­math of the war saw dras­tic po­lit­i­cal, cul­tural, and so­cial change across Eu­rope, Asia and Africa. Four em­pires col­lapsed, old coun­tries were abol­ished, new ones were formed, bound­aries were re­drawn, and in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions were es­tab­lished.

Near-uni­ver­sal vot­ing was in­tro­duced in Bri­tain and Ger­many, turn­ing them into mass elec­toral democ­ra­cies for the first time, but it all came at a very high price.

Ten mil­lion ser­vice­men were dead, 20 mil­lion were in­jured and 7.5 mil­lion were miss­ing.

Nearly 1,000 Coven­try-born men died in the con­flict, but there are nearly 2,600 names on the main war me­mo­rial, mark­ing those who also lived or worked in the city and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

It was meant to be “the war to end all wars” but the con­clud­ing peace treaty ac­tu­ally set the stage for World War Two 20 years later as Nazi Ger­many sought to take back what it had lost, and more.

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